September 3, 2012—Orange County, CA—Labor Day is a time when many people relax and enjoy a long weekend, but many people in our current economy may not have jobs to return to on Tuesday. This makes the suggestion that anyone is taking advantage of government- or insurance-assisted benefits such as disability even more disappointing, but apparently a new look at the Orange County police by the Orange County Register shows that this may be the case. Employment disability filings are extremely high for some departments.
Public safety workers are given special retirement benefits because of the dangerous nature of their jobs. However, recent examinations of numbers in several Orange County cities show that many police or firefighters who have been unsuited for the job for reasons other than physical disability have been pensioned off early with the help of funds earmarked for disability payments.
The Other Side Of the Argument: Police and Firefighters in High-Stress Jobs
However, many spokespeople for the police and firefighters claim that the jobs are so stressful and hazardous that these employees deserve every possible consideration and benefit. The tax breaks afforded by disability pensions help to compensate these brave men and women for their sacrifices in the line of duty, according to advocates.
City-by-City Look at Disability Numbers
The Orange County Register examined the numbers of employees who have claimed disability pensions from each city and found:
The Register analyzed disability retirements for police officers and firefighters across the county and found:
• Irvine has the highest disability retirement rate for a large city, with 60 of 99 retiring officers claiming disability.
• Anaheim, with a crime rate much higher than Irvine’s, had only 15 percent of its officers retiring with disability pensions. Anaheim has the lowest disability rating in the county with only 2 percent of officers receiving disability pensions.
• Buena Park officers retired with disability at a rate of 62 percent.
• In La Habra, nine of 19 officers, or 47 percent, sought disability payments.
• The Orange County Sheriff’s Department had a nine percent disability retirement rate.
• Fire departments had a smaller ratio of disabled workers than most police departments.
What Does This Mean For Me If I Am Injured or Disabled On the Job?
The closer scrutiny to which police and fire departments are being subjected will likely carry over into the private sector, as well. If you suffer a
job-related injury that may require you to file for disability, it would be wise for you to consult a professional employment attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive compensation for your injuries.