Gaming the public pension system for inflated retirement funds is bad enough; scamming the public pension system by pretending to have permanent disabilities is much more disgusting. As the NYT reports:
The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said, ‘Employees [of the Long Island Railroad], in many cases, after claiming to be too disabled to stand, sit, walk or climb steps, retired to lives of regular golf, tennis, biking and aerobics’…A sampling of hundreds of cases approved by two doctors showed that $121 million had been paid to workers whose disabilities were either fabricated or exaggerated, according to court papers, though the total was quite likely more. It was unclear if officials would try to stop the payouts, or could even legally do so, before the disbursements hit $1 billion.
The government should come down hard on this. It is a tragedy that money intended to go to disabled LIRR retirees and their families was scooped by liars and cheats before being burned on golf and tennis. The two doctors involved in this scam need to be made examples of; let’s hope they go to jail for a long time and lose every dime they own. Other doctors similarly tempted should realize that they will ruin their lives and impoverish their families if they go down this road.There is an epidemic of financial crime in this country; from Wall Street to the LIRR people are stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. Ultimately this is a moral and social problem, but we clearly need to toughen up the laws and do a better job of enforcing them. Jail needs to be part of the solution, and the financial penalties for fraud should be increased to the point where people convicted of these crimes are picked clean. We have not done enough to deter these destructive crimes, and that needs to change.A particularly troubling branch of fraud involves the medical profession. Fake Medicare claims, fraudulent testimony in civil lawsuits, and false disability certification cost huge amounts every year: that needs to change and fast. A lot of bad doctors need to go to jail, and the sooner the better.Note to politicians: pushing for tough anti-fraud laws with stiff penalties is good policy and good politics. This is one way to turn the public anger about Wall Street abuses and other financial crimes into a serious force for constructive reform.