BAD NEWS ~ GOOD NEWS • by P.O. Michael K. Lappe, Trustee
Greetings from yours truly. I can only assume and hope that all is well out there in retirement land. SORRY, forgot for a second how all our retiree’s got the big screw (driver-R.E.) stuck to you with the insurance debacle that the city outrageously without any concerns for anyone’s well being after serving in any one of a number of city departments as a dedicated employee.
I need to get this message out to you as well. All members need to remember that this is a pension fund. Here at 221 N. LaSalle #1626, we are not a health and welfare fund or an insurance office, nor do we administer any financial planning on your behalf. It’s your pension office. Our phone has been ringing nonstopped for weeks now. The staff here has been professionally sifting through the Blue Cross (BC) screwup that turned the insurance program on its head. We are very limited as to helping you. The BC call takers continually give bad inaccurate information to you the member. When we tell you to call BC, we are not blowing you off. Here at the Fund, we are NOT in the loop with the BMO or BC office over on State Street. We cannot provide BC your personal details for what works for you and your family. The fact is the BC call takers are clueless, rude and in a few cases, just hang up on you.
On a brighter note I’m including this next paragraph that I submitted to the FOP news letter for your information; the legislature, on November 29, 2016, enacted Public Act 099-0905, which in part provides for post-retirement cost of living increases to many retired members with birth dates between January 1, 1955, and prior to January 1, 1966. The Pension Fund is working very diligently to apply the legislation to its retirees and ensure that all impacted members receive the appropriate cost of living increases. An estimated 1,400 retired members are impacted by this new legislation. In an effort to provide an immediate increase to affected members, 3% cost of living increases were provided on January 31, 2017, to retired members that had attained the age of 55 AND had a complete year of retirement beyond the age of 55. Many of the retirees that were born on or after January 1, 1955, will be receiving additional increases. However, each calculation will require a detailed review of a retiree’s birth date and retirement date, as each retiree has different circumstances. A magic button does not exist to calculate these amounts, and thus, they will be calculated individually by the Fund’s staff. All retired members that are impacted by the legislation will receive his or her increases in due time.
Moving on, let’s look at a few disability cases that were terminated at recently past hearing proceedings. These next few really caught my attention and I’m confident it will get your attention also.
Officer Z assigned to a unit that delivers supplies to districts and units. While unloading a truck, the officer feels his arm go numb and soreness in his back. It was determined by Doctor Who that surgery was warranted to correct a vertebrae that needed to be fused. Officer Z completed 22 years of service, 4 of which were on ordinary disability. The Board at Z’s hearing for a duty disability claim was denied. Officer Z was granted an ordinary benefit at 50%. This benefit by state statue allows for 1 year for every 4 years of service with a five year maximum benefit. Officer Z and his attorney file for administrative review and subsequently were denied a duty disability. Not happy with this ruling, a motion was filed in the Appellate Court for a duty disability claim. Again, the Officer Z’s motion was denied by the Appellate Court. After rolling the dice and losing, Officer Z by his own choice, receives a reduced retirement percentage of his maximum allowed pension and hopefully is enjoying retirement. Now you may be thinking; why didn’t this guy get a duty disability after what had happened? Here’s why: per the Illinois State Pension Code, Article 5-113. Which reads: “Act of Duty”: Any act of police inherently involving special risk, not ordinarily assumed by a citizen in the ordinary walks of life, imposed on a policeman by the statutes of this State or by the ordinances or police regulations of the city in which this Article is in effect or by a special assignment; or any act of heroism performed in the city having for its direct purpose the saving of the life or property of a person other than a policeman. To further a better understanding, the United States Supreme Court years ago ruled that just because a “first responder” shows up for work, it does not give you “Cart Blanch” for collecting a duty disability. Take for example the fireman who is given a direct order to mop up their firehouse kitchen floor after the rest of the crew spills food and who knows what else they make for breakfast on the floor. The grunt with the mop slips and breaks a leg in the mess. The court basically said, in cases such as this, these individuals should be more careful. Accidents happen. This was not an act of heroism or an act of duty.
Speaking of more heroism…On January 26th, 2017 a Board meeting was held at the Fund’s Board room. One status review case in particular took center stage. On August 25th, 2003 a female recruit was hired and began her training at the Education and Training Division. On or about four weeks into physical tactics training, the recruit incurred a fracture to her right lower tibia and trauma to her right ankle. The recruit was offered corrective surgery to repair three ligaments in her ankle. Keep in mind she ambulates without assistance as she walked into the Board room just fine.
Back before I was elected to this Board, she was granted a duty disability 16½ years ago! Now all you retiree’s out there who showed up for work each and every day have paid this recruits freight to the tune of; $526,173.87 tax free and not to mention the free insurance that accompanies this benefit. So now, figure it’s close to a million dollars return for four weeks of work. Great work when you can get it.
Currently, this Fund has been working diligently to have the Chicago Police Department’s Human Resources change their policy which will allow those in cases such as the one I just mentioned to return in a light or limited duty capacity as a glorified overpaid civilian.
I’ll keep you all posted in the next article, about this case and others. (Note: that may be my last article as I have to retire in July when I reach my goal of 63 years old). I would be remised for not mentioning how the lawyers fight, twist the facts and truth to keep these people on disability in some fashion. Personally, I find it disgusting and shameful.
But never forget, for all those who actually appear before the Board who have suffered through a traumatic and heroic event that somehow turned out causing severe injuries, this Board has the utmost respect and praise for you and will accommodate you as best we can. Thank you for your unselfish service. Until then, stay safe and God bless you (all 9,623 retiree’s) for discharging your noble duties as former Chicago Police Officers
P.O. Michael Lappe
Michael K. Lappe, Elected Trustee [BACK]