Speier Introduces Legislation To Strengthen Investigations of CalPERS Disability Claims
Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) on Thursday introduced the first of three bills that would "help rein in fraudulent disability claims" under CalPERS, the Sacramento Bee reports. Speier's bill would permit the pension fund to require employees who are past retirement age to submit to medical exams to determine if they are still disabled (Korber, Sacramento Bee, 1/21).
The other parts of the legislation package -- which is sponsored by CalPERS -- would clarify the definition of fraud for medical pensions and establish civil and criminal penalties and allow CalPERS investigators to review state employment records to determine whether former workers collecting medical pensions are working in jobs that would be difficult to perform with their injuries (California Healthline, 12/15). Those bills are expected to be introduced later this term.
The legislation comes following a series of Bee articles that investigated a trend in the California Highway Patrol known as "Chief's Disease," where top officials end their careers by claiming workplace injuries and then sometimes find rigorous employment elsewhere.
Speier said that industrial disability retirement, which shields half of a claimant's pension from taxes, will cost taxpayers in fiscal year 2005-2006 about $17 million. "Abuses of IDRs are a slap in the face to every public safety employee who puts his or her life on the line," Speier said, adding, "The abuses must stop. And they must be stopped in a way that doesn't prevent providing legitimate benefits to those who protect the public."
Rob Feckner, acting president of CalPERS, said, "This legislation will give CalPERS one of the necessary tools to protect the integrity of the pension fund" (Sacramento Bee, 1/21).