Railroad Board Reportedly Embraces Disability Reforms

October 22, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Faced with allegations of federal disability benefit abuses among retirees at the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (URRB) has reportedly adopted reforms proposed by federal lawmakers.

A Newsday news report quoted a URRB memo outlining the five sets of reforms including measures which the newspaper said could potentially cut off some LIRR retirees currently receiving disability benefits. Newsday said the memo was sent to members of the Empire State’s congressional delegation on Tuesday.

The retirement board has come under fire following reports that it approves, nationally, 98% of railroad disability claims; more than nine in 10 LIRR retirees currently get disability benefits, Newsday said.

According to the news report, a new unit in the Chicago-based federal agency will handle all LIRR disability claims. Members of the unit will conduct independent medical reviews of present and future disability claims by those not totally and permanently disabled, developing a program to “re-evaluate dubious disability claims,” and mandating greater oversight of the Long Island regional office, Newsday reported.

LIRR president Helena Williams told Newsday that the reforms “unfairly single out LIRR retirees and do not go far enough to address what is a nationwide issue.”