Good News: GAO Audit Gives Railroad Occupational
Disability Program a Clean Bill of Health
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) just issued its second
review of the Railroad Retirement Board Occupational Disability Program, and
once again has found no problems.
“This was a major accomplishment for rail labor,” says TCU President
Bob Scardelletti. “Occupational Disability is a vitally important program for members who need it. It’s the best
in the country, and this Report will help keep it that way.”
The increased government attention on Occupational
Disability began when New York politicians and newspapers began a full scale campaign targeting Long Island Rail Road workers’
alleged abuse of the program. After extensive scandalous press reports, public hearings, wild allegations, and a congressionally
requested GAO investigation, no improprieties were found.
The Railroad Retirement Board did institute some oversight
measures specific to Long Island Rail Road to make sure that no abuses were occurring, reflecting the fact that the rate of
applications for occupational disability were higher than on any other railroad. But these oversight procedures wound up finding
that all Long Island applications that were approved were properly reviewed, legitimate and in accordance with existing law
and regulations. And that fact was endorsed by the first GAO audit of Long Island Rail Road claims in a report released in
Not satisfied with the GAO’s findings, two Republican Congressman – John Mica of Florida
and Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania – on March 18, 2009 formally requested the GAO to “conduct a systematic review
of RRB’s occupational disability program”, not just limited to Long Island Rail Road.
request prompted yet another GAO review of the occupational disability program. In their just-issued response to the two Congressmen,
the GAO reported they found no improprieties and made no recommendations.
“Once again efforts to find fault
with the occupational disability have come up empty,” says President Scardelletti. “That’s because the program
is functioning as it was intended – to be a last resort for rail workers who because of illness or injury can no longer
perform their jobs. It is a necessary benefit and it is not abused by those who unfortunately must apply for it. We
will continue to do everything in our power to preserve it as is.”
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