Are disability payments going to those with no disability?

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Is the state continuing to send disability payments to people that are back to work? State Auditors say the state may be wasting millions of dollars by paying disability to retirees that do not qualify for it.

The state’s two state auditors, one a Republican and one a Democrat, have come to the same conclusion: there has been a “potential breakdown in the safekeeping of the State Employees Retirement System.”

“Employees that go out on disability, whether or not they’re still disabled, should be reviewed every 24 months, and that’s simply not happening,” said Bob Ward, the Republican State Auditor. “As a result, people who may no longer be disabled are still receiving disability benefits and it’s not their fault, no one’s done the review.”

“We’re concerned that the Comptroller’s Retirement Services Division is not processing and reviewing disability retirees in a timely fashion,” said John Geragosian, the Democratic State Auditor.

The State Comptroller, Kevin Lembo, says he agrees, but that his hands are tied because state labor unions and management can’t agree on a definition of what constitutes a disability. 

“The definition is vague, and without clarification from the parties, I can’t act and I’ve been chasing clarification for two years,” he said.

The Governor says he too has been pushing to get a definition on this. It has come to light because of a whistle-blower’s complaint about a former state employee that is making huge amounts of earned income and still receiving disability payments from the state.

“Somebody shouldn’t be making $600,000 a year, for instance, and still get a disability payment,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

The topic is expected to be on the agenda of the State Retirement Commission when it meets at the State Treasurer’s office on Thursday morning.

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