Disability Debate at City Hall

Jul 13, 2012

Disability claims in Lexington’s police and fire divisions are under review at city hall.  A Council committee this week discussed the high rate of retirements due to disabilities.  Council member Kevin Stinnett says tougher requirements may be needed.  “Look at keeping them in their same job now, but have them perform a physical fitness test.  If they can pass that, then they can stay on, even though a doctor may say they could be disabled.  I mean we have guys working now that haven’t filed for disability, that probably could get it.  That’s my point.  So they’re already doing the jobs anyway.  So, let’s see that standard as well,” said Stinnett.

Over the last decade, Public Safety Commission Clay Mason says some 390 disability claims were made by police officers and firefighters.  He says it amounts to about 19 retirements per year, per department.  Some council members are concerned about the criteria for disability in police and fire.   Some disabled workers could be re-assigned but, Mason says the city doesn’t have enough desk jobs.

“And at some point, do you draw a line on how many of those folks do  you allow to maintain a light duty status because you can’t have a department full of light duty personnel,” added Mason.

Since 1990, Mason says his department has seen 252 retirements due to disability.  He told council members 87 of those retirees had 20 years or more service in public safety.