To Serve
and Collect

The Series


About the series

What's an injury worth?

Pension chart

The Times special investigation, "To Serve & Collect" was published simultaneously in the St. Petersburg Times from March 31 through April 2, 1996.

Day One

Scores of Tampa Bay police officers and firefighters have retired on generous -- and tempting -- disability pensions.

Day Two

Tampa's $636-million police and fire pension fund is a cash cow for both pensioners and pension fund insiders.

Day Three

Having problems with the boss? For some police and firefighters, a disability pension can be the way out of a sour situation.

The Times investigation found:

  • In some of Tampa Bay's biggest cities, 1 in every 3 police officers and firefirghters retires on a disability pension.
  • Police and firefighters who go out on disability are rarely called back to work --even if they recover 100 percent.
  • Disability pensions for police and firefighters often are more lucrative than regular pensions -- and the money is totally tax-free.
  • Hepatitis, heart attacks, lung cancer -- the list of diseases presumed to be job-related is growing all the time.

About this series

What's an injury worth?

This illustration shows how much a specific injury is worth on average in workers' compensation inthe Tampa Bay area.

Comparison Chart of disability retirement plans

The Continuing Story

State considers making disability benefits better

Local officals are upset by a bill in the Legislature that would enhance public safety officers' already-lucrative disability pensions.
(published April 8, 1996)

Pension-fraud inquiries sought

(published April 11, 1996)

Readers respond to Times series on questionable
pension practices

(published April 13, 1996)

Pension system slow to change

(published May 20, 1996)

©Copyright 1996, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.