Workers allegedly claimed disability to boost pensions
* Disabled workers seen golfing, biking, prosecutors say
Oct 27 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged 11 people in connection with an alleged $1 billion fraud involving hundreds of railroad workers filing false disability claims.
In some cases workers claimed they were unable to work even while they played golf, shoveled snow or rode bikes, the complaint says.
Former Long Island Railroad workers, doctors and a federal railroad agency employee are accused of participating in the scheme in which employees filed disability claims shortly before they retired. The move allowed them to get disability pay on top of their retirement pension, prosecutors said.
In filing the claims, the railway workers allegedly paid between $800 and $1,200 to hire one of several disability doctors.
Those doctors would then conduct unnecessary tests and concoct a medical issue that would allow the workers to go on disability, prosecutors said.
Two have been charged and a third doctor has died.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said the scheme cost the Railroad Retirement Board more than $1 billion. The investigation developed after a series of reports by The New York Times starting in 2008.
The Times said that almost every longtime LIRR employee was receiving disability payments, resulting in a disability rate sharply higher than other railroads.