City to Begin Annual Disability Audits
Starting March 1st, the City of Memphis will begin annual audits of all line of duty disability and ordinary disability pension benefits awarded by its Pension Board.
Currently, there are approximately 460 retirees receiving line of duty pension benefits and 130 receiving ordinary disability pension benefits. In 2011, the city spent $13,505,448.76 for line of duty disability pensions and $2,872,574.31 for ordinary disability pensions.
“For those city employees who were injured on the job or injured such that they could no longer do their job, we have made a promise to take care of them. That is a promise we intend to keep,” said Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “From time to time, we do hear about retirees who might be abusing or taking advantage of our disability pension benefits and we currently investigate those on a case-by-case basis. With these new guidelines, we will have a systematic way to ensure that all those receiving benefits should be.”
Under the new policy, ordinary disability and line of duty disability retirees will be required to submit a statement of earnings, a physical/mental condition form, a notarized response form, and a form authorizing the release of information each year. The documentation would be requested on the anniversary of the pensioner’s retirement.
Once the information is received from the pensioner, additional information may be needed to make a more definitive decision whether to continue or deny the benefit. In that case, a determination would be made on the medical evidence of two qualified physicians who would be paid for at the expense of the Pension Board.
By instituting this new policy, the City’s Human Resources Division hopes to certify that all those receiving disability pension benefits from the City continue to suffer from the disability and continue to meet income guidelines as stipulated in Pension Ordinance No. 3907 Section 25-82 and Section 25-182.
“As we begin this process, we will be working with the Association of City Retired Employees (ACRE) and the unions to communicate the information and to make sure that everyone on a line of duty disability or ordinary disability will know to send us the required documentation,” said Human Resources Division Director Quintin Robinson. “We certainly don’t want to end anyone’s benefits unnecessarily; we simply want to make sure that the City is not being defrauded.”
The changes will be required for those who go on either disability pension plan in the future, as well as those already enrolled.
During the State of the City address in January, Mayor Wharton outlined four priorities for the current term: Creating safe and vibrant neighborhoods, growing prosperity and opportunity for all, investing in our young people, and advancing a culture of excellence in government.