The editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal called on lawmakers Tuesday to deal with the “outrageous abuses” it says are plaguing the state’s disability pension system.
From the Review-Journal:
We know the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada provides retirement benefits to people who aren’t retired. But did you know the taxpayer-funded pension plan also provides disability benefits to former government workers who aren’t disabled?
The Review-Journal exposed the PERS disability giveaways last year in an investigation of the termination of Las Vegas police officer Jesus Arevalo. On Oct. 15, 2013, Mr. Arevalo became the first Metropolitan Police Department officer to be fired over an improper use of deadly force. In 2011, he killed Stanley Gibson, an unarmed, mentally ill Gulf War veteran who became lost while driving around an apartment complex parking lot. That tragedy, which followed a Review-Journal investigative series on police use of deadly force, led to major changes in department training, policies and oversight — and a $1.5 million settlement for Mr. Gibson’s widow.
Mr. Arevalo was on paid suspension for almost two years while termination proceedings played out. But weeks before his firing was finalized, Mr. Arevalo submitted disability retirement paperwork — for stress related to his firing and the shooting that prompted his firing. The “retirement” was approved by his immediate supervisor, a personal physician, the PERS board and the pension agency’s doctor.
Mr. Arevalo, who was 36 at the time of his firing, will collect about $2,500 per month for the rest of his life, plus cost of living increases. Over 35 years, he could collect more than $1 million.
Anyone who receives federal disability benefits or long-term disability benefits through a private insurer isn’t supposed to work. But Mr. Arevalo’s disability claim applies only to police work. He can collect his PERS disability benefits and work in another field.
Read the entire editorial here.
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