Begins process to collect disability over payments
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo today announced that the State Retirement Board authorized the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island's (ERSRI) to begin contract negotiations with Insight Service Group (ISG). ISG will be ERSRI's first external and independent disability pension investigator. ISG will work with ERSRI staff to ensure compliance with Rhode Island General Laws for members receiving a disability pension.
Raimondo also announced that ERSRI and Sullivan & Company, an independent audit firm, identified $558,833.99 (as of December 31, 2011) in past overpayment to six retirees receiving disability pensions. Overpayments date back as far as 2001. These six retirees have had their disability pensions suspended and ERSRI is working with law enforcement to further investigate to determine whether criminal or civil claims are appropriate. ERSRI is also working to determine whether further monies may be owed to the pension system.
"Even one instance of fraud weakens the entire system for our public employees and retirees," Raimondo said. "Finding ways to strengthen the accountability and integrity of the disability program and to rein in instances of fraud and abuse will continue to be a top priority."
The auditors reviewed 833 total pension files and made 20 recommendations, 19 of which have been completed to date. Some of the improvements to-date include:
• Formalizing the procedure for securing information from members receiving a disability pension and the collection of overpayments owed to ERSRI.
• Creating a hotline where individuals can safely and conveniently provide information regarding possible disability abuse (401) 462-TIPS (8477) any day or time.
• Establishing partnerships with local law enforcement to assist in collection of overpayments of pension benefits.
The request for proposals for investigative services was issued in January in response to an audit conducted by Sullivan & Company of ERSRI's annual disability re-examination procedures relating to members receiving a disability pension. The audit was prompted after an initial review by Raimondo revealed a pattern of missing documentation required by ERSRI to assure compliance with the law by members receiving a disability pension.
Founded in 1992, Massachusetts-based ISG's contract is anticipated to be for 1 year with a 2 year extension at the option of ERSRI. ISG field investigators are trained and familiar with local law enforcement departments, and possess the appropriate licensing requirement to complete necessary investigation without restrictions or added costs in all other jurisdictions throughout the country.