Today's Boston Globe reports that 45 cities and towns have sent letters to the Department of Unemployment Assistance detailing what they see as abuses in the system:

■After taking mandatory retirement at age 65, some former police officers and firefighters collect unemployment benefits along with their pensions.

■Teachers who have been informed that their contracts may not be renewed for the following academic year receive a notification letter in the spring, and many receive a lump-sum payment in June to cover their salary through August. Despite being under contract, receiving pay and medical benefits, some file for and receive unemployment compensation benefits in July and August, then resume teaching when the school year begins.

■Teachers in an area of “critical need’’ are allowed to return to teach at full pay after they retire, without any income limitations or pension offsets. Once the school district fills the position, however, the retiree is allowed to collect unemployment benefits in addition to his/her pension.

■When they are paid by the municipality (and not the school district), some school bus drivers are eligible for unemployment benefits for school vacations, holidays, and other days off. (It was not mentioned in the letter, but municipal officials said that school crossing guards and substitute teachers also have filed for and received unemployment benefits because school was not in session or they were not called in to work.)

■One municipality hired a reserve police officer full time, and sent him to the state’s police academy. The recruit did not receive a passing grade at the academy and was returned to the reserve ranks, where he or she applied for and was granted unemployment benefits.

"Lynnfield Town Administrator Bill Gustus authored the letter that detailed holes in the state’s unemployment compensation system as it relates to municipal employees, including scenarios that were termed “questionable’’ or, in one case, defying “the laws of sanity.’’


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