Calling the current situation “fiscally unsustainable,” Minnesota cities will seek help from the state in covering costs of the skyrocketing number of police officers retiring due to post-traumatic stress and seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
The League of Minnesota Cities plans to push again in the next legislative session for a bill that would fully reimburse cities for the cost of insurance for police officers and firefighters on disability pensions, according to Anne Finn, a lobbyist for the group.
The number of cops and firefighters applying for disability pensions from the state retirement fund has exploded since the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020 that touched off widespread protests, riots and arson.
Since August 2020, about 80% of disability pension applicants say they can’t do their jobs due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Insurance firms have been siphoning off money from New Jersey’s pension funds for the past 15 years thanks to a policy decision that shifted financial obligations for employee injuries to pension funds, according to an investigation by acting state Comptroller Kevin Walsh.
A report on the investigation said that a 2006 policy adopted by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) encourages injured employees to accept continuing medical monitoring and coverage instead of cash settlements. The report said the approach, which puts the financial burden on pension funds to pay workers rather than on insurance firms, has provided “a windfall to insurers and financially harms the pension funds.”
At least 114 public employees received both an accidental disability pension and a medical monitoring settlement between 2016 and 2019, according to the report. However, it said the exact cost to the pension funds was unknown because there are no records or data on what insurers would have paid in the absence of medical monitoring settlements.