The Limping Conductor and the LIRR Disability Scam

I was on the 6:33 heading toward Hummerville last night. Our ticket-taker had the typical Metro-North conductor’s Irish-by-way-of-Brooklyn mug. He also had a pronounced limp–the sort of lurching gait associated with some sort of fairly serious ailment. I don’t know exactly what the ailment is–polio, perhaps?–but you see someone walking in this manner–one knee pointing dramatically toward the other–in the city just about every day.

Anyway, I don’t mean to single this guy out for his handicap. But amidst all the stories about LIRR employees cashing in on lucrative, and often completely bogus, disability claims (not that “middle-class moronism” isn’t a legit ailment), here’s a guy whose clearly not functioning at 100%, but is working nonetheless–on his feet the whole shift, lugging those pain-in-the-ass doors open.

I don’t want to beat up on the LIRR either. I don’t doubt the vast majority of its employees show up to work when they’re supposed to, fight through aches and pains, and certainly work on the major holidays–something I’ve thankfully never had to do. Surely many LIRR employees are collecting disability for completely legitimate injuries.

I’ve gotten a fair amount of comments on the LIRR scandal since it broke in September, I’m guessing the majority of them from LIRR employees. It’s worth noting that most of them continue to defend the widespread practice of filing bogus disability claims, even after everyone from the governor to the attorney general to LIRR president Helena Williams said the practice was essentially indefensible, and one DC railroad expert compared the LIRR’s reported disability rate to that of a gulag’s.

In fact, many commenters felt TJ was simply jealous that his employer didn’t offer substantial payouts–and free golf at state-owned courses–for fake injuries.

Wrote Jon Parissi, who presumably likes the CAPS:


Wrote Harvey:

I guess you make less than Mr. Koerber did [Ed. Note: Edward J. Koerber is a retired engineer pulling in $170,000 a year. Yes, we do make less than Mr. Koerber]. Instead of knocking his work rules, why not get a better job, or put in a resume?


Wrote Jeff Rosenburg:

As the RRB IG (Railroad Board Inspector General) said, “It’s the law.” Applying for what is yours is not fraud, plain and simple.

Maybe you should try to get job there.

Wrote CathyAnne:

All who are complaining are just jealous that THEY don’t have those work rules, or the pay the LIRR workers do.

You get the picture. Unless I’m missing something, it sounds like, say, a bank ATM that was known to give out an extra twenty every time you visited, until the bank got wise and fixed it. After that, the people who used to get the free twentys were furious at the bank for fixing the ATM, and at the citizen who told the bank the ATM was busted.

Maybe I’m missing something.

Either way, I salute the Metro-North guy limping his way along on the 6:33 yesterday.

[photo is wealthy retiree Edward J. Koerber from NY Times]

This entry was posted in Edward Koerber, Helena Williams, Hummerville, LIRR Scandal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Limping Conductor and the LIRR Disability Scam

  1. L. Hernandez says:

    Thank you for your kind words about decent hard-working Metro-North employees. While my husband is not a conductor, he too works for the railroad while dealing with an handicap.

    By virtue of spending so much time walking around on a moving train rather than a stable bit of ground, conductors are prone to a lot of orthopedic problems. Misjudge a bit of water on a sidewalk and you slide and recover. Misjudge on a moving train, and your knees and ankles are stressed that much more. Like cops on a beat, they are constantly on the move, so the cartilage gets stressed as well.

    It is of course shameful that people are gaming the RR disability system. However when my husband went in for surgery and rehab, frankly it was a huge blessing that the money came with little paperwork attached to it. There certainly was enough paperwork dealing with the medical insurance; getting pre-approval for the surgery, getting thoroughly confused about EOBs stamped “this is not a bill” but then getting notices that we were overdue on a lot of bills; trying to keep receipts for taxis for income tax deductions; getting copies of patient files for the MNRR medical dept, etc. etc etc. For all the worries we had about his condition, we were spared the troubles of many Americans who have to file for bankruptcy in order to “survive” a medical calamity.

    He is back at work, thankfully, although he will need further surgery in a few years, and I really hope that the LIRR scandal will not make it impossible for him to receive disability at that time, temporarily or permanently, as circumstances dictate.

  2. William Hays says:

    Hurry!!! MTA / LIRR is having a contest to name two retired GE 150-hp shop switchers. Go to their web-site! The contest closes very soon! I voted to name them “Joseph Rutigliano” and “Edward Koerber”, for the two humps that got their picture in the NYT regarding the Railroad Retirement Board scandal. Years ago, LIRR employees got their pictures in the paper, posthumously, in a “Wreck-of-the-Week” article. Joe and Ed have gone “beyond-the-call-of-duty” and will be remembered forever by their names on the little museum locomotives.

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