Retired State Police chief gets tax-f...

Retired State Police chief gets tax-free disability pension

Posted in the Fitchburg Forum

AP Leominster

Fitchburg, MA

#1 Jul 27, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012

Retired State Police chief gets tax-free disability pension


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Marian J. McGovern, the recently retired commander of the state police, has been approved for a tax-free disability pension because she suffers from a heart condition, a state police spokesman said, a designation that will boost her retirement pay by tens of thousands of dollars.

McGovern, 58, of Marshfield, made no mention of her medical condition when announcing her retirement in June. On Wednesday, a state police spokesman revealed that McGovern was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2009, before her appointment later that year as commander of the 2,200 officers and 400 civilian employees of the state police.

McGovern is the second state police superintendent in eight years to receive a disability pension because of a heart condition. McGovern's disability is based on a “diagnosis of a serious condition and its continued prognosis into the future,” spokesman David Procopio said.“The pension designation is completely merited by Colonel McGovern's medical situation.”

McGovern, who retired after 33 years, earned $209,000 as superintendent, and her annual pension will be about $163,000 a year.

Normally, public pensions in Massachusetts are exempt from state income tax, but ordinarily subject to federal income tax. However, when the retiree also has a disability, the pension is also exempt from federal income taxes.

Based on calculations reviewed by several public pension specialists, McGovern may save about $25,000 a year in lower federal tax bills by receiving a disability pension, compared with a pension without disability, depending on her tax bracket.

McGovern's disability pension was approved by a special three-member board, which reviews only state police disability applications. All other disability applications across the state are handled by a panel of three independent doctors, but state law requires that state police disabilities be reviewed by the state commissioner of public health, state surgeon, and state police superintendent, or their designees.

In McGovern's case, the state police superintendent's designee abstained from voting, Procopio said. The pension was approved by a 2-0 vote.

Procopio said McGovern's condition will “require lifelong medication and management.”

He said he did not know whether diagnosis of McGovern's heart condition limited or impacted in any way the performance of her duties after 2009. Asked whether state police in general may continue to work with such a medical condition, he said decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

McGovern, a Worcester native, was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick. She was the first woman to achieve that rank. The new commander is Timothy P. Alben, a 30-year veteran.

McGovern's disability retirement is not without precedent. In 2004, Thomas J. Foley, also a Worcester native, retired at age 50 as state police superintendent with a disability pension because of a heart condition.

Fitchburg, MA

#2 Jul 27, 2012
Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images A heart murmur is usually nothing more than a noise. An extra "whooshing" noise while your heart is beating is a clear sign of a heart murmur. Usually this is caused by extra turbulence of blood in or around the heart valves. Most heart murmurs are harmless and you will go through your life with them. In other cases, your heart murmur may be a sign of another heart condition that may be more serious.

Women are more likely than men to have a heart murmur, according to a study published by the University of California in 2006. Researchers reviewed 7,684 echocardiograms flagged for a murmur. Of those, 61 percent were women. The good news is though, women are less likely to have a problematic heart murmur. Most women have harmless heart murmurs. Only 45 percent were indicated to have an underlying cause, while 50 percent of the men with murmurs were considered problems.

Read more:
More Murmurs

Fitchburg, MA

#3 Jul 27, 2012
In children, abnormal murmurs are usually caused by congenital heart disease. In adults, abnormal murmurs are most often due to acquired heart valve problems.

Innocent heart murmurs
An innocent murmur can occur when blood flows more rapidly through the heart. Conditions that may cause rapid blood flow through your heart, resulting in an innocent heart murmur, are:
Physical activity or exercise
Changes in your heart's structure, such as changes from heart surgery
Not having enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body tissues (anemia)
An excessive amount of thyroid hormone in your body (hyperthyroidism)

Changes to the heart due to aging or heart surgery may also cause an innocent heart murmur. Innocent heart murmurs may disappear over time, or they may last your entire life without ever causing further health problems.
Some Causes

Fitchburg, MA

#4 Jul 27, 2012
Other causes of abnormal heart murmurs include infections and conditions that damage the structures of the heart and are more common in older children or adults. For example:
Rheumatic fever. Although rare in the United States, rheumatic fever is a serious condition that can occur when you don't receive prompt or complete treatment for a strep throat infection. Untreated rheumatic fever can permanently affect the heart valves and interfere with normal blood flow through your heart.
Endocarditis. This is an infection and inflammation of the inner lining of your heart and valves. Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and lodge in your heart. Left untreated, endocarditis can damage or destroy your heart valves. This condition usually occurs in people who already have heart abnormalities.
Valve calcification. This hardening or thickening of valves, called mitral or aortic valve stenosis, can occur as you age. These valves may become narrowed (stenotic), making it harder for blood to flow through your heart, resulting in murmurs.
Mitral valve prolapse. In this condition, the valve between your heart's left upper chamber (left atrium) and the left lower chamber (left ventricle) doesn't close properly. When the left ventricle contracts, the valve's leaflets bulge (prolapse) upward or back into the atrium, which may cause a murmur.

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