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Ironman Athlete Collecting Worker's Compensation

A recent report out of Mesa, Arizona demonstrates the inevitable negative consequences of supposed problem-solving government programs. Audrey Glemba, a 49-year-old triathlon runner, became a medically-retired police officer collecting worker's compensation for an injury she claimed prevented her from working. Taxpayers in her city are now paying her $508 a month, in addition to medical retirement benefits.

In the years between Glemba's back and knee injury in 1995 and her retirement in 2008, she ran 29 races, including 10 triathlons. At the time she was applying for medial retirement, she and her squad were under investigation for hanging up photographs of themselves, the homeless, and the disabled, alongside demeaning comments. While she was appealing her termination, the local pension board approved her retirement. In the meantime, she participated in an Ironman race just months prior to the approval, and has since completed another one.

Glemba is part of a worrying national trend that has seen the number of people receiving disability benefits rise from 1.5 million in 1970 to 8.8 million in 2012, plus an additional 2.1 million dependent spouses and children. The program's fund is projected to be depleted by 2016 as payments continue to outweigh revenues.

While a difficult job market and an aging population are likely contributing to the increase in program participants, the nature of the rise and reported disabilities suggest that far more concerning factors are also at play.

The government is encouraging people to sign up by creating ways to game the system, and an increasing number of Americans are taking advantage. Relaxation of medical eligibility criteria under the Reagan administration made it easier to qualify for benefits. Unlike the medical impairments more commonly reported in the past, such as strokes and heart attacks, the majority of issues today are difficult to verify, inviting fraud. According to a recent NPR report, just 17.9% of recipients in 1961 were claiming mental illness, back pain, and other musculoskeletal problems as their disabilities. Today, this group makes up over 50%.

In addition, the economic value of disability payments has increased, and recipients qualify for Medicare after two years, regardless of their age. Furthermore, there is a concern that states encourage people to apply in order to transfer the economic burden of the unemployed to the federal government.

Still, government programs do not deserve all the blame. In recent years, our culture has strongly emphasized a distorted view of justice and equality that runs counter to the principle of individual freedom. Rather than admiring responsibility, hard work, and charity, people are resentful and have an inflated sense of entitlement. You cannot watch television today without being bombarded by ads with lawyers promising to fight for you and win the benefits that you deserve.

With government bureaucracy encouraging fraud, and society constantly reminding us that life is unfair, it is no wonder that programs designed to be a last resort are now looked upon not only as another option, but a more just one. These factors contribute to the distrubing trend exemplified by Audrey Glemba, resulting in an increasingly significant proportion of the population reliant on the government and taxpayers. As long as the public continues to allow more and more people to choose disability over work, the numbers will only get worse as the program expands and further spreads dependency and waste.

Carl Richey's picture
Carl Richey

I was appalled when I first read about this from #@chicksontheright. But they received a rebuttal that reminded me about my history in law enforcement with injuries and disability. Here is the text of an email I sent in reply to the chicks to try and help people understand the officers hands were tied. She didn't want medical retirement she wanted to keep her job and she was forced out.

 Dear chicks on the right, as I have been employed for the last 13 years in either corrections security or law enforcement, I have a unique understanding of what she is talking about. There have been many times that the doctor has wanted to put me on restricted duty for some condition or injury I sustained. Knowing full well that what I did on a daily basis would never affect me or cause me any problems with normal day-to-day operations. I was still never allowed to be at work if I was supposed to be on restricted duty. What most people don't understand about this is, at any given time you never know when you might have to be called respond in a certain manner. When a life threatening emergency situation arises and you have to take extra measures you have to be able to respond accordingly. If you are not able to perform 100 percent of your duties in a life or death situation, you become a liability not only to the department or the city, but to yourself and those you're trying to protect and save as well. The first time this happened to me, I tried to argue with my chief about my capabilities. He then provide me a training scenario in which I would Not be able to respond to my injury. This is when I came to realize the importance of training, conditioning, and mental preparedness for our military corrections security fire and law enforcement. People are medically retired from the military on a regular basis for things that dont stop them from being able to run triathlons, or competing other athletic events. Yet if they're not able to give a hundred percent we can't very well ask a hundred percent of them. In a career field like law enforcement you can't ever give anything less than a hundred percent in a life or death situation. And the people that you're there to protect want nothing less than the best. Thin Blue Line Stay Frosty my brothers in blue

D Williams

The bigger problem is the Law firms that have figured all this out and are scamming the system to their benefit, meanwhile, a lot are getting on and living off everyone else which will soon end as it goes broke along with the rest of the country.