City disability program may pay uninjured workers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City disability program may pay uninjured workers

Memphis taxpayers paid former city employees $13.5 million last year for permanent line-of-duty disability. But it appears the disability was not so permanent for some people, yet they're still cashing disability checks. Memphis taxpayers paid former city employees $13.5 million last year for permanent line-of-duty disability. But it appears the disability was not so permanent for some people, yet they're still cashing disability checks.

(WMC-TV) - Memphis taxpayers paid former city employees $13.5 million last year for permanent line-of-duty disability. But it appears the disability was not so permanent for some people, yet they're still cashing disability checks.

Starting Thursday, the mayor will audit everyone to make sure no one's bucking the system.

Memphis Councilwoman Wanda Halbert is up in arms, after repeated complaints that the city's line-of-duty disability benefit is being abused.

"They go to other places and work, claiming disability," she said.

Halbert said a broad inquiry uncovered specific names of former city employees who appear to be cashing in on the tax-free money.

"I personally sent a letter to the mayor and human resources director wanting to know how these people were claiming disability from the city," she said.

Tennessee Rep. Curry Todd is the most high profile name on the list and it's raising red flags.

Since 1988, Todd has received nearly $30,000 per year in disability, after a series of on-the-job back injuries as a Memphis police officer.

That's a total of nearly $670,000.

Since then, Todd has refereed basketball games, worked as a corrections administrator and served as a state lawmaker.

The city's retirement system summary says "if you engage in gainful employment, your disability benefits will be reduced."

Meanwhile, the municipal code says, if one recovers "his or her disability benefits shall be cancelled."

So the council wants reform.

"To make sure that we strengthen the rules and regulations to ensure sure no one is violating the intent of the law," said Halbert.

And Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said the program needs to be reviewed.

Wharton will change the process Thursday as the city heads into 2013 with a $31 million deficit.

"It just makes good business sense," Wharton said.

Previously, the city only required a review if they got a tip.

Now, line-of-duty disability recipients will have to submit an annual statement of earnings and physical condition, among other documents.

"Individuals who are truly disabled have absolutely nothing to be concerned about," Wharton said.

The city will also consider reassigning disability employees to other jobs, if possible.

Rep. Todd was unavailable for comment.

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