How Jesse Jackson Jr. collects $138,400 a year from the federal government

RealClear Contributor

            

Former U.S Rep, Jesse Jackson Jr. is apparently making more money collecting benefit checks from the federal government than he made as a freshman congressman in 1995 and the reason why is ridiculous.

According to recent reports from Jackson's divorce case, the former Democrat politician and son of Reverend Jesse Jackson receives about $138,400 from the federal government and about $100,000 of it is workers' compensation and tax-free, according to Chicago attorney Barry Schatz, who is representing Jackson in his divorce proceeding.

The rest of Jackson's benefits are Social Security Disability Insurance payments, some of which may be taxable, Schatz said.

The figures emerged after District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Okun ordered Jackson to pay child support for the children he had with Sandi Stevens: Jessica, 16, and Tre, 13.

He told the court that his monthly expenses are $1,608 per month.

Sandi Jackson says her monthly expenses are $11,030, she has no income and is in $35,000 debt.

Jackson was ordered by the court to pay $1,529 a month in temporary child support as of March and revealed his annual benefits payments of $138,400.

One court exhibit is Jackson's workers' compensation benefit statement from the Labor Department. The statement covers a 28-day period ending last Dec. 10. It shows Jackson's gross compensation was $7,699 for the period.

Now, the question plaguing everyone's mind is how Jesse Jackson Jr. has been able to collect hefty benefit checks from the federal government after serving time in prison for looting hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign fund.

Well, because of his struggles with bipolar disorder and depression he was made eligible for social security disability insurance payments. It was his mental health issues that led to an extended leave from Congress in 2012 — and those conditions have been exacerbated by a "very difficult, contentious divorce" from former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, Schatz said.

According to the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, workers can be given disability compensation "due to personal injury or disease sustained while in the performance of duty."

"Whatever benefits Jesse Jackson Jr. has, he earned them, and as a matter of law, he's entitled to them," the attorney said. "If the government thought he wasn't entitled to them, they wouldn't be paying them."

Jackson's workers' compensation benefits are for a temporary, total disability, the attorney said. His health is checked once a year or more, and should it improve, the benefits might change, the attorney said.

"He's not a slacker," said Schatz, who disclosed that the ex-congressman is on medication and "not currently able to work."

The president of a taxpayer watchdog group said the payments show "the system is still finding a way to take care of ex-lawmakers convicted of crimes and often in better fashion ... than many Americans with lesser financial means could expect.

"Once again, the average taxpaying citizen is left to wonder if justice was done for them," said Pete Sepp, who heads the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union in Washington.

Schatz was quick to defend his client saying: "I can't give you an explanation as to how and why' Jackson developed bipolar disorder as a result of his work," he said. "I can tell you that medical experts have diagnosed him, and as a result of the diagnosis, he is entitled to disability payments. If someone had a choice whether they wanted to be bipolar or not, I don't know of anybody that would want to choose to be bipolar, no matter what they were paid."

Jackson was being paid $174,000 when he resigned his position, and started off on $133,600 in 1995 as a junior Congressman.

Jackson took a leave of absence due to mental illness before his resignation from office and subsequent imprisonment.

Before quitting, Jackson had taken a leave for treatment for bipolar disorder and depression. Jackson's workers' compensation benefit statement gives June 1, 2012, as his "date of injury." Yet he cast 72 separate roll-call votes in the House of Representatives from June 1 to 8, 2012, not missing a single vote, House records show. Later that month, his office said he was on a leave of absence and being treated for what at first was called "exhaustion."

Do you think Jesse Jackson Jr. deserves to receive all this money from the federal government? Let me know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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