The number of retiring Long Island Rail Road employees applying for disability benefits dropped nearly 50 percent last year from 2011 -- the year that federal prosecutors started going after former LIRR workers on fraud charges, federal statistics show. According to U.S. Railroad Retirement Board figures, 90 LIRR retirees sought federal disability benefits in 2012 -- a 46 percent decline from 2011, when 167 people applied."Guys are terrified," said one LIRR union leader who declined to be identified. "When they started seeing guys go to prison, they said, Its not worth it. "While the numbers fell sharply in 2012, the majority of the 133 who retired still filed for disability annuities that could pay $30,000 or more annually.Special InvestigationsWorkers' Compensation
"There were real problems in this system, and these new numbers give a strong indication that people who do not deserve disability benefits wont get them, and those that do will get the help they deserve," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who led the call in Washington for railroad disability reform.