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Auditors raise issues with Connecticut disability payments

Connecticut's auditors say "significant amounts" of money may have been paid in disability retirement benefits to state retirees no longer eligible to receive them.  Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan called the findings in the auditors' report shameful, and says it adds insult to injury of the current budget crisis.

 

He also called it a colossal failure to safeguard Connecticut taxpayer dollars.

 

According to the report, 500 retirees have received disability retirement benefits for more than two years, but have not had the required review.  That figure includes 164 state retirees who have been receiving benefits for more than four years without a review and two retirees who've been receiving them for more than eight years without a review.

 

A whistleblower complaint prompted the investigation. 

 

McLachlan called the auditors' report released Wednesday "Exhibit A' of why the state is going broke.  he says it's painfully obvious that the system needs top-to-bottom reforms.

 

McLachlan says the probe also revealed that there was no follow through by the State Comptroller's Retirement Services Division to scrutinize the disability status of retirees who didn't respond to an annual survey.  He says taxpayers’ money is flying out the door with no oversight. 

 

The auditors recommend a series of changes to state law to tighten the benefits system.  McLachlan plans to put the suggested changes forward in the form of legislation next session.  In the meantime, he says an explanation is needed as to why this has happened, how it continued on for so long, and who will be held accountable.  One recommendation is to allow the retirement commission to refer suspected instances of fraud to the Chief States Attorney.  There is currently no process for that.

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Jill Schlesinger

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