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Stop, Look & Listen: Railroad Retirement Benefits Q&A

Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman

Occupational Disability Annuity May Be Based on Fraudulent Medical Evidence

(Posted September 7, 2013)

Question 1055: My husband retired 12 years ago with 32 years of service, with an occupational disability. His doctor, whom he had been seeing as a patient for 16 years prior to his filing for his disability, was just convicted of disability fraud. When my husband was a patient, we considered him to be an excellent doctor and a very nice man. Now my husband is afraid the RRB will arbitrarily cut his benefits because he used this doctor. If that happens, would he still be eligible for age and service since he is over 60 years old, or will he have to re-apply? If that happens, will they want him to repay this money back? At the time he filed for the occupational disability he also was deemed disabled by a doctor the railroad sent him to. Would this make any difference? We are very worried. We are not wealthy and could never afford to fight this. In case you are wondering, my husband did not work, or go to the gym, or ride bicycles, etc. and it is an occupational disability not a permanent disability. Working as a railroad engineer for 32 years, mostly at nights and weekends, wears a body out.

Answer: Several years ago reports in the New York media stated that former employees of the Long Island Railroad were receiving Disability Annuities from the Railroad Retirement Board based on evidence submitted by certain doctors. After an extensive investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and the Railroad Retirement Board, at least fourteen individuals were charged including a former manager of the local Railroad Retirement Board office and a medical doctor, Peter Ajemian.

Dr. Ajemian pleaded guilty and was convicted of submitting false medical evidence to support Occupational Disability claims of several former Long Island employees.

On June 27, 2013, the three-member Railroad Retirement Board approved a Board Order that terminated annuities if the medical evidence was submitted by Dr. Ajemian. Letters notifying the affected annuitants were released. The rail workers were advised to file a new application and submit current medical evidence if they were still disabled.

If you husband has not received a termination letter, he should call the RRB on their toll-free number: (877) 772-5772 and confirm he is still entitled to an annuity.

Important notice:

Answers are provided as general guidance on the subjects covered in the question and are not provided as legal advice to the questioner or to readers. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the law to the particular facts of this and similar situations.

The law in this area changes frequently. Answers are believed to be correct as of the posting dates shown. The completeness or accuracy of a particular answer may be affected by changes in the law (statutes, regulations, rulings, court decisions, etc.) that occur after the date on which a particular Q&A is posted.

Copyright 1997-2017 Robert S. Kaufman
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