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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2008


Sweetheart Deals May Have Allowed Able-Bodied LIRR Employees to Receive Unjustified Federal Disability Benefits at Retirement- Cost Millions of Federal Tax Dollars

Little-Known Federal Railroad Retirement Board Approved the Benefits With Seemingly Little or No Review

Senator Makes Direct Appeal to Inspector General and Independent GAO to Conduct Immediate, Inter

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer demanded a comprehensive internal investigation of the federal Railroad Retirement Board, a little known independent federal agency, and how the board approved millions of dollars in what appears to be unjustified federal disability benefits for retired Long Island Railroad workers. Schumer said that the exposure that nearly 100 percent of workers who retire from the LIRR, able-bodied or not, we granted federal disability benefits, a far greater percentage than any other railroad in the country, including MetroNorth, also operated by the MTA.


 “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark,” Schumer said. “The bottom line is this archaic agency needs to get its house in order and must figure out who approved these benefits, how, and why. With the federal treasury already stretched to the limit, we cannot allow the benefits to be given out willy nilly. If heads at the Railroad retirement board have to roll, then so be it.”


Schumer wrote personal letters to both the head of the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General of the Railroad Retirement Boar d asking them to conduct an immediate joint investigation in to the Railroad Retirement Board and how these benefits were approved.  The primary function of the RRB is the determination and payment of benefits under the retirement-survivor and unemployment-sickness programs. To this end, the RRB employs field representatives to assist railroad personnel and their families in filing claims for benefits, examiners to adjudicate the claims, and information technology staff, equipment and programs to maintain earnings records, calculate benefits and process payments. As an independent agency in the executive branch of the Federal Government, the RRB reports to the President on its operations and to Congress.


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