Why Is Public Employee Disability Claim Data Being Kept Secret?

TransparencyIn the preamble to California’s Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s 1953 law governing the public’s access to government meetings, the Legislature noted, “The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.” Likewise, the people “do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.” The public insists “on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

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The same noble sentiment forms the foundation of California’s public-records laws, which govern the release of government documents. Yet a new lawsuit alleges that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which operates the largest state pension fund in the country, has been withholding some information that’s necessary to help the public to oversee the system and protect it from waste, fraud and abuse. It deals with disability benefits paid to pensioners.

Specifically, the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which cofounded with California Policy Center Transparent California (the website that publicizes the pay and benefit packages received by California employees), argues that CalPERS has denied its “request for records which would document the type (service, disability or industrial disability) of benefit received,” despite many requests. This information is so important because of the many news reports about the questionable workers’ compensation claims, the lawsuit argues. CalPERS itself recognizes the problem—”it has established a disability fraud tip hotline where it encourages the public to call in and report cases of suspected disability fraud.”

If CalPERS expects the public to help root out bogus disability claims by public employees, then why shouldn’t it provide the public with information that helps it do so? The research institute is merely seeking a one-word designation of the type of pensions that California retirees are receiving. Such information has not been specifically exempted from the California Public Records Act. Anything not exempted is, according to the lawsuit, fair game for public disclosure.

“CalPERS’ claimed sensitivity of information pertaining to the benefit ‘type’ (disability or service) is untenable because hearings related to appeals of denial of disability pensions are public hearings and recorded for broadcast,” according to NPRI’s court filings. Furthermore, the lawsuit argues that CalPERS “has consistently indicated” that it would not release that information. The lawsuit includes correspondence between NPRI and CalPERS backing that claim. CalPERS has yet to respond to the lawsuit and has declined comment to the media, but it has indicated that it believes such information to be an invasion of the recipient’s privacy. …

Click here to read the full article from Reason.com


  1. Ca. Does not want the public to know what it is costing them. As always, spend and keep secret. Cy

  2. More Demoncrapic Democracy where they tell us what to think , what they think we should know, what and how much we should eat and drink . Then when we vote and they disagree they simply get a liberal judge to dismiss the will of the people and site that THEY think it is Politically incorrect and have our vote nullified , strange Democratic process to say the least. Somehow the Demoncrapic party has become the direct opposite of what they claim to represent.

  3. If a state employee decides to break a law on decisions that the people have a right to know said employee merely says sue me.The only problem with that is that the state employee is paying his lawyers with taxpayer money. If you do sue the state you are responsible for your lawyer’s fee. In the event you lose the lawsuit you are responsible for the state’s cost of defending itself. If you should win the lawsuit and win an cash award, you will be paid with taxpayer money. If the state employee were responsible for paying the award and your cost of suing the state it would indeed present a different picture. In order for this to actually happen would require a law to be changed. All together now!! What are the chances of that actually happening? As it now stands the taxpayer is the one on the losing end of this proposition.

  4. “The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.”
    That Ralph Brown – what a comedian.
    The voters of CA have been yielding their sovereignty to Sacramento wholesale for decades. They haven’t stood up for themselves since the passage of Prop-13 in 1978, and are mostly incapable of doing so now.

  5. We sacrificed control of bureaucrats when we allowed politicians to create public service unions. Unions now control the politicians and us. Imagine the stupidity in giving the power to set pay and benefits to the same people who petition for pay and benefits.

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