Newark saw fire disability retirement rates double over 20 years

After getting pension info from Alameda County cities last month, I asked them for a lot more info recently.

Newark, bless their hearts, responded quickly and thoroughly.

The most interesting item from Yowzah town involves firefighters retiring on disability:

Between 1990 and 2000, only 16.67 percent of Newark firefighters retired on a disability pension

Between 2005 and 2010, that number jumped to 38.46 percent.  Newark no longer has a fire department.

For cops, the frequency of disability retirements rose from 37.5 percent in the 90s to 53.85 percent over the past six years.

Why the big jump?

Newark has some theories. Click where it says to click to read them.

      The job is no more dangerous for Firefighters then it was 20 years ago.  In fact, safety equipment is much better and procedures have been refined to make the job safer.  For police officers, the job is probably more dangerous given the proliferation of weapons, the larger number of parolees, and the willingness for the “bad guys” to use weapons.  Respect for police officers’ authority has also declined.

Documentation of injuries during firefighters and police officers careers is much more comprehensive.  There has been a change in employee mindset to document every injury regardless of severity where in the past some would not have been reported

State legislation has been adopted that makes many types of illnesses “presumptive”.  This means that if a police officer or firefighter contracts certain diseases/illnesses they are “presumed” to be job related.  Such things as heart disease, certain types of cancers, etc… 

When someone retires on a disability retirement, a significant percentage of the retirement pay is tax free. I believe this was an unintended result of some legislative action taken years ago.

 It is much easier to get a disability retirement now then it was 20 years ago.

Matt Artz