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Friday, November 30, 2018

Westfield Police Detective's Widow Seeks Lifetime Health Benefits

     Westfield Police Detective Eric Lieberman’s untimely death on May 22, 2018, left a wife and two teenage children, ages 14 and 19, without their main source of income and health benefits.

Petition

     Westfield social media forums have been debating the issue since widow Tammy Lieberman began posting in online Facebook groups, with a petition started on Change.org titled “Approve Health Coverage for Detective Lieberman’s Family."  So far, the petition has garnered 1,136 signatures with a goal of 1500.  Some signatures from as far away as California and Florida.
    
     There is also a separate Facebook group established and titled "Tammy Lieberman's Community."  Tammy Lieberman has stated she is currently battling stage 4 breast cancer.
     
     Tammy Lieberman and her children moved to Florida after selling her family home in Roselle Park back in August for a reported $330,000 according to Zillow.
     
     According to the Asbury Park Press Data Universe, a database that lists all public employee salaries in the state of New Jersey, Eric Lieberman’s last reported salary was $123,706.  This amount may or may not include a longevity bump of 9%.
Facebook Group
     Based on the Westfield PBA 90 contract and NJ Police and Fireman’s Retirement System, Eric Liberman’s surviving spouse is entitled to 3.5 times his reported salary.
     
     Using the $123,706 reported salary, Tammy Lieberman should have received a check totaling at least $432,971 as a lump sum life insurance payout.
    
     Additionally, the surviving beneficiary is entitled to the pension earned by Eric Lieberman during his career.  During his career, Eric Lieberman contributed between 8% and 10% of his annual income to the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System.  Based on Eric Lieberman’s contributions over a 27 year career, the yearly pension Tammy Lieberman will collect is equal to 50% of her estranged husband’s last yearly salary or 50% of $123,796. ($62,000 per year.)
    
     As per the PBA contract with the Town, Eric Lieberman's surviving spouse and children are not entitled to the Town's healthcare benefits that Eric Lieberman was paying for, which was approximately 30% of the yearly cost.  The contract stipulates that an employee that has completed XX amount of years of service with the Town of Westfield and 25 years service in the Police and Fireman's Retirement System is eligible to collect healthcare coverage for the employee and his spouse, including dependent children, upon retirement and until the age of 65.

     Eric Lieberman had not retired from the Westfield Police Department at the time of his off-duty death and therefore the town is not required to fund health insurance for his beneficiaries.
    
     Tammy Lieberman has been offered the opportunity to purchase insurance coverage under federal COBRA laws which would cost approximately $25,000 per year.
Det. Eric Lieberman
     
     The current status of Eric Lieberman’s marriage has been the topic of debate with Tammy Lieberman stating they were working to reconcile a marriage that had them living separately for years.  Sources have confirmed that Eric Lieberman remained married to allow his wife to continue receiving the health benefits provided by the Town of Westfield as per the PBA’s contract but both maintained a dating relationship with others.
     
     Another source has stated that Tammy Lieberman currently collects social security disability benefits and that she is entitled to Medicare.  Lieberman’s youngest son (14) is eligible for social security benefits until he turns 18 years old.
     
     Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle provided an update to the media which includes a statement from Town Administrator Jim Gildea and PBA President Paul Ferry, on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.  Mayor Brindle stated, “I fully support the ongoing partnership between the town and the PBA as they work together to address this issue, and I hope that their joint statement below provide some helpful clarity.”

Statement from Gildea & Ferry:

     “The town and the Westfield PBA continue to mourn the loss of detective Eric Lieberman, and he is sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family.
     Although we remain strictly prohibited from discussing the details of personnel matters, it is important that this obligation not be misconstrued as a lack of assistance or compassion for Detective Lieberman’s family.
    We have, in fact, been privately working toward a solution to address their healthcare coverage concerns, and continue to do so.
     We find it unfortunate that, in this process, their personal situation has been made public, with many comments being made in the absence of complete facts.
We remain firmly committed to keeping the personal details of these discussions between the town and the Lieberman family private.
     More broadly, there are state and federal laws in place that guide us in these matters, and, the town has gladly exceeded it’s legal obligations on several fronts in an effort to assist Detective Lieberman‘s family during this trying time.
     That being said, Detective Lieberman‘s passing has identified unintentional health coverage gaps in our collective bargaining agreement in the face of an untimely tragedy. In the absence of a contractual provision to address continuing health care coverage in this case, our policy is to defer to the federal COBRA laws, with the knowledge that a substantial life insurance payout and pension benefit traditionally assist in easing any financial burden.
Both the town and the PBA consider this an opportunity to work together to discuss improved protections moving forward.
We are committed to finding a mutually agreeable resolution that is legally, contractually, and fiscally viable in a timely manner to bring peace and security to the Lieberman family. With the current contract expiring this month, we look forward to addressing the continuation of health coverage in our negotiations. Thank you to the Westfield community for the care and compassion demonstrated to one of our own.” 

The fact of the matter is that the mayor and town administrator can't award someone benefits they are not contractually entitled to, without opening the door to other claims made by past, current, and future employee's family members is a similar situation.

While awarding Tammy Lieberman lifetime health benefits might be the right thing to do emotionally and morally, the mayor and town administrator can't legally or contractually do it.  As harsh as it might sound, she is only entitled to that which the PBA contract stipulates.  Anything different has to be negotiated during contract negotiations.





38 comments:

  1. I may be wrong but she may also be collecting 50% of his last years salary as a pension even though Eric had not retired. On top of the life insurance policy at 3.5 times that salary.

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    1. I believe she collected the lump sum payout of his pension contributions. I don’t believe there is monthly pension payment since he did not retire.

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    2. https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/documents/factsheets/fact10.pdf
      Read Page 1 "Active Members" She could be getting the $432000 plus $61800 per year.

      Most members of a New Jersey State-administered retirement system are covered by group life insur- ance. If the deceased was an actively employed member of the retirement system at the time of death, and depending on the pension fund and the circumstances of the member’s death, the beneficia- ry will receive the life insurance and either a return of the contributions made to the retirement system (Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS)* and Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF)), or a survivor’s pension payable to a surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner (Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS), State Police Retirement System (SPRS), and Judicial Retirement System (JRS)). Before any benefit can be calculated, the employer must submit a form called the Certification of Service and Final Salary — Death Claim. This form indicates recent salary and employment status.

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    3. That depends on the pension system and circumstances surrounding the death.
      He was a member of the PFRS and died before he retired therefore the death benefit is three and a half times his salary and a refund of his pension contributions.
      if He had retired and died, she would get 50% of his retirement monthly check and a much smaller life insurance payout plus lifetime benefits.

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    4. If you check APP.com, data universe, under retiree's you will see that Chief Kelly, FF Maglione, FF Lanza, FF Pfeiffer spouses all get a monthly pension. It states Member died in active service and they get monthly allowance. Pension rules changed years ago to allow a widows pension if they died during active time

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    5. If you check APP.com, data universe, under retiree's you will see that Chief Kelly, FF Maglione, FF Lanza, FF Pfeiffer spouses all get a monthly pension. It states Member died in active service and they get monthly allowance. Pension rules changed years ago to allow a widows pension if they died during active time

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  2. She’s posting outdated pictures of the two of them because she has nothing current. They were not together. He had a girlfriend and she was apparently engaged and her boyfriend was living in the house with her that Eric was paying the mortgage on.
    She drove him to his grave. Turned his younger son against him. This is all a charade to bilk the town out of something she isn’t entitled to. Plain and simple.

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  3. This is a very unfortunate situation, and I feel terrible for her and her children. That being said, she is not entitled to lifetime benefits. You are 100% correct -this will present claims for past, current and future situations-I can’t even believe that she feels she is entitled to lifetime benefits- She is playing the grieving widow and anyone who knew them knows that this is the furthest thing from the truth. Too bad that “Tammy Lieberman” was not listed on the death certificate as the direct cause of death. Even now, she won’t let Eric Rest In Peace.

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    1. Omg give people a chance to be anonymous and that's how they talk. Are you a coward? Your last part about the death certificate is so fucking vile. What's your name or are you a little bitch

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    2. “OMG give people a chance to be anonymous and that’s how they talk” Said the “anonymous” person.

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  4. If the Contract with the pba does not provide for
    benefits in this scenario where an officer has 25 years but does not retire then this is not a loophole as she alleges. To say the town used a loophole to avoid paying her is completely wrong. It’s just the way the contract was negotiated and the terms need to apply to all regardless of their personal issues. The officers and their dependents should be aware of the provisions of the contract and if
    they are not then that is not the fault of the town, the mayor or the PBA. I assume Eric knew what his benefits were and maybe Tammy did too but now is not happy that she can’t shame the town into giving her that which she is not entitled to.

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  5. His wife drove him into the grave. Wanted 1/2 his pension, alimony, child support, the house, and had a live in boyfriend. There was no love in that marriage that she is now claiming. Ask her about how she tainted her younger son against Eric. This is such a charade ah is pulling. If Eric was alive, he’d tell you he was miserable and she was the root of it.

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  6. The wife never lived in Westfield and was engaged to someone else around the time of her separated husband's death but now wants Westfield residents to pay for her medical care. I guess she thinks Westfield is a deep pocket.

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  7. Look at the Facebook page she started to support her. Not one recent picture of her and Eric. Why? Because she hated him. They weren’t together! She is gaming the system.

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  8. I hear she is contacting the network news agencies and they are giving her airtime next week. I hope they do their due diligence and look into her relationship with a boyfriend and how she tormented Eric up until his death.
    Karma will catch up to her.

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    1. Channel 7 news at 5pm on Monday.

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  9. I just want money!!! Give me more money!

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  10. I feel this is very wrong she is trying to work the system. They haven't been together in years he was living in scotch plains with his dog and she was living in roselle park with her boyfriend. I almost feel it should be illegal what he was doing for her while he was alive keeping her on his insurance. Sounds like he was a stand up guy and she is very questionable........

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    1. Eric was a stand up guy. He is rolling over in his grave with this charade she is pulling. She caused his death -she should be ashamed of what she is doing. I am sure Phil is pissed

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  11. Is the Westfield PBA backing her? If not, that says a lot.

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  12. Leo Lugo is happy because the spotlight is off of him for now, until this dies down.

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  13. Copied from NJ Pension Fact Sheet # 10 regarding Health Benefits of an active Member death and the surviving defendants:
    HEALTH BENEFITS Active Members
    If the member was employed at the time of death and was covering dependents under the employer’s health plan, the eligible dependents can continue to participate in the group coverage for up to 36 months, provided they have no coverage of their own. This continuation of coverage is offered under
    the provisions of federal COBRA legislation and is obtained through the deceased’s employer. Dependents should contact the employer’s benefits administrator for more information.
    If the member was in the PFRS, SPRS, JRS, or the Workers’ Compensation Judges Part of the PERS and enrolled in the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) as an active employee, surviving depen- dents who receive a monthly pension allowance will be entitled to continue coverage under the Retired Group of the SHBP.
    If the member was in the PFRS or SPRS, surviving dependents who receive a monthly accidental death pension allowance will be entitled to coverage under the Retired Group of the SHBP, or the employer’s health plan.
    I worked with Eric and am not a fan of Tammy, however he was still legally married at the time of his death and Tammy SHOULD only receive what anyone else in the same situation received. The PD has not had an active Member die in recent years, however the FD has, what did the FF's surviving dependents received. If they had to pay for medical then Tammy has to pay. Also due to pension and benefits changes made in 2011, had Eric retired he would have been paying for his benefits in retirement. That would have cost him around $1000 to $1200 per month. Tammy, shame on you for driving Eric to his early grave. It would be great if we all could see ALL of the text messages that you sent to Eric for the last two months of Eric's life, better yet I'd like your boys to see them. We all know the truth.

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    1. What a Cee You Next Tuesday!

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  14. What happened to her fiancé?

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    1. Good question. I guess her charade of yearning for her late husband wouldn’t carry as much weight if she were shacking up with a fiancé thus diminishing her claim for health benefits that Eric worked to provide for her and the boys.

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  15. John Ricerca is in a similar situation without the health component. Hope he learns from this.

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  16. He died in the line of duty because he called into work. She received more because of that She needs to pay for her cobra and enjoy her life This is not a legacy I would want to leave my children. Leave them with happy memories.

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    1. Line of duty? Are you on crack? He had a scheduled side job. He was at his apartment. Had not left for work.

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    2. If he died in the line of duty, why isn’t she getting lifetime health benefits?
      The fact that she can get benefits under COBRA is an indication that he did not die in the line of duty.

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  17. Eric deserves to Rest In Peace ......during his physical life he dealt w horrrible manipulating events and was never able to REST and be STRESS FREE and now in his death he still can not rest In Peace ......he was a wonderful man and went above and beyond for EVERYONE regardless of the situation...... he will always be in my thoughts and prayers ....

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    1. THat woman is a horrible person she broke him in ways no one should experience she turned their youngerat son against him ...proof is out there .... she deserves nothing

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  18. Will you be able to post the news segment for us

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  19. Tammy, please post a current picture of you and Eric with the boys or just you and Eric.
    The pictures you’re posting and providing the news agencies are all outdated. Why is that? Because your were not together and made his life a living hell. Stop the charade Tammy.

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  20. Mayor Brindle posted that while they are working on this unfortunate situation, there is no $25,000 payment for COBRA benefits due on January 1
    Another example of Tammy manipulating the situation.

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  21. Where is the fake news on the media?

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    1. "Where is the fake news on the media?" That's an incoherent statement but that doesn't surprise anyone. "Fake News" is a phrase used by ignorant people who can't deal with facts or reality. You are a useless waste of air.

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