There’s a lot of ways to make a million dollars, and a lot of ways to steal it. For those inclined to steal, you have a number of options in New Jersey; for example, you could hold up a bank and risk many years in prison, or, instead, you could pretend you were blind, get two doctors to sign off on a disability claim, and voila – you’re set for life! Even if you’re caught, the state may choose not to prosecute you. Seriously.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger takes to task the state’s disability pension system in today’s fraud of the day, because the police and firefighter’s pension board appears to have been overrun by scams. One such alleged scam included a Newark cop who claimed he was blind, but was later caught on videotape – “driving on the Garden State Parkway.” The article notes that “the state refused to charge the ‘blind’ cop with fraud.”
Disability pensions for public employees have been a controversial topic in recent budget battles, but there’s nothing controversial about having a few checks on the system, the article argues. Charge a state agency with investigating disability pension fraud – there isn’t one currently (which is just a little too convenient); limit the number and kinds of doctors who can rule on a disability (unregulated today); and review the claim periodically to assess whether the disability still exists. The article notes that “after five years, a police or fire disability pension is locked for life, even if the person makes a full recovery.” Otherwise, the state will continue to pay out $50,000 a year to 40-year olds who are “driving blind.”"When the Blind Can See",