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Emanuel wants to revamp police disability rules

Updated: September 18, 2012 6:25AM

City Hall wants to reduce the number of police officers getting disability pay by placing as many of them as possible in “limited-duty” jobs — a move designed to save Chicago’s cash-strapped police pension fund millions of dollars.

That’s the goal of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s two top financial advisers, who are proposing major changes to city police-disability rules after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation revealed that several officers are collecting hefty disability checks while working other jobs — including working as a lawyer, a car salesman and a construction laborer.

City Hall Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott and Comptroller Amer Ahmed are among the eight board members of the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, which decides if officers get disability pay.

“We take our role with the disability program very seriously and these policy changes will go a long way toward rooting out fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars,” Scott and Ahmed said in a statement. “We look forward to discussing these proposed reforms with the other members of the police pension board and are hopeful we will gain their support.”

A majority of the eight board members would need to approve the proposed reforms, which include the following:

■ Officers would not be able to apply for disability pay until they are examined by a police department doctor who would determine if the officers are capable of holding limited-duty jobs, including administrative posts.

■ The 347 officers on disability leave would be subject to new medical examinations by police department doctors to determine if they could return to work. Those officers — whose annual disability payments total $18 million a year — are now examined by doctors for the pension fund, not the police department.

■ All officers on disability leave would be required to annually disclose the money they earn from other jobs, allowing the pension board to determine if they should continue receiving disability benefits or be re-examined to return to work.

— Tim Novak and Chris Fusco

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