Year of Publication
Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
Master of Public Administration
Injuries are taking Lexington police officers off of the streets and placing them on the disability pension rolls in rising numbers. Police officers in Lexington must have a total and permanent disability according to American Medical Association guidelines of impairment ratings to receive a disability pension. There is no minimum percentage of impairment an officer must have to receive a disability pension. This poses a problem because the Lexington police department gives at least 60 percent of their final pay to disabled officers regardless of the percentage of their impairment. Some Lexington police officers who are receiving disability pension payments later move on to different jobs where they are performing tasks similar to those they had been deemed too disabled to perform at the police department. The trend of more Lexington police officers receiving disability pensions means that taxpayers will be paying more in taxes to help fund the police and fire retirement fund.
The purpose of the study is to answer three questions: are the eligibility criteria for the Lexington police department’s disability pension plan different than those of comparison cities; if there are differences in eligibility criteria, what impact do the differences have on the number of police officers who begin to receive disability pensions; if there are differences in eligibility criteria, what are the financial implications to the city of Lexington?
Data was collected from police departments and pension funds in the cities of Lexington, Kentucky; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Toledo, Ohio regarding the number of police officers who were added to the service retirement and disability rolls each year from 1996 to 2005.
Eligibility criteria for the Lexington police department’s disability pension plan are similar to the eligibility criteria for St. Paul’s disability pension plan. However, eligibility criteria for the Lexington police department’s disability pension plan are different from the eligibility criteria for Toledo’s disability pension plan. The three cities had different percentages of total pension recipients who were awarded disability pensions. The percentages were as follows: Lexington (46 %), St. Paul (39.3 %), and Toledo (20.1 %). If Lexington had the same eligibility criteria as Toledo, Ohio; Lexington would have spent approximately $1.58 million less on disability pensions from 1996 to 2005.
Lexington should consider implementing a disability pension system similar to Toledo where officers are awarded a partial disability benefit if the physicians believe that the officer will be able to supplement their disability benefit with income from some kind of employment, and they should implement some aspects of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability pension system. VA has incorporated a system that gives disabled veterans a different monthly stipend depending on the degree of the disability. The veterans are rated in percentage increments of 10 depending on the severity of their disability. Lexington should also provide very specific details about what jobs an officer who is receiving a disability benefit cannot be employed in or their benefits will be terminated.
Miller, Eric A., "A Comparative Analysis of the Lexington Police Department’s Disability Pension Plan" (2006). MPA/MPP Capstone Projects. 78.