Filing an employer application for disability retirement pursuant GML 207-c
City of Schenectady v McCall, AD 3rd Dept., 245 A.D.2d 708
The City of Schenectady filed an application for accidental disability benefits for one of its police officers, Kevin J. Coker, with the New York State and Local Policemens' and Firemens' Retirement System [PFRS]. It claimed that Coker had sustained at least four neck and back injuries while on duty. Although Coker had returned to duty after each episode, in 1992 he ceased working claiming that the back pain resulting from these accidents permanently incapacitated him.
Section 207-c.2 of the General Municipal Law authorizes the filing of an application for accidental disability retirement on behalf of a disabled police officer if the officer does not elect to do so.
PFRS' medical expert, Neurologist Neil Lava, testified that Coker was not "permanently incapacitated" and that there was no medical explanation for Coker's complaints of pain and a limited range of motion. The City's medical expert, Police Surgeon Dominic Belmonte, an occupational physician, testified that Coker was disabled from an orthopedic point of view and permanently disabled from resuming employment as a police officer. The application was rejected by PFRS and the City appealed.
The Appellate Division, with Judge Mikoll dissenting, sustained the System's disapproval of the City's application to have Coker retired for work-related disability. The Court said that the System's determination "is supported by substantial evidence, even though there is other evidence that would support a contrary result."
However, the PFRS' determination may have triggered another provision of the General Municipal Law, Section 207-c.3. Section 207-c.3 provides that if a police officer is not eligible for or not granted an accidental disability retirement allowance, he or she may be required to perform "light duty ... consistent with his [or her] status as a policeman" if found medically qualified to perform such duties. If the police officer refuses to perform such light or modified duty, Section 207-c payments "shall be discontinued." As PFRS has found Coker is not "permanently disabled," the City could have Coker evaluated by its medical experts to determine whether he is able to perform "light police duties."
Another alternative: the City could, if Coker agrees, transfer him to a position with another City agency or department [see Section 207-c.4, General Municipal Law] if he meets the civil service qualifications for the position to which the transfer is to be made.
If you are interested in learning more about General Municipal Law §207-a or §207-c disability benefits and procedures please click here:http://section207.blogspot.com/2010/03/v-behaviorurldefaultvml-o.html
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