January 27, 2011

Ability to perform “light duty” defeats accidental disability retirement claim

Ability to perform “light duty” defeats accidental disability retirement claim
Matter of Roache v Hevesi, 38 AD3d 1036

Jerome J. Roache, a police officer, suffered a fracture of his left knee in an accident. He later returned to work in various restricted-duty positions, the most recent of which was as a property clerk.

Claiming that he could not fully perform the duties of a police officer, he filed an application for accidental disability retirement benefits with the New York State Employees’ Retirement System.

Finding that Roache was not permanently incapacitated because he was able to perform “his restricted duty assignment” satisfactorily for more than three years prior to his applying for accidental disability retirement, the Retirement System rejected his application for benefits.

The Appellate Division sustained the System’s determination, holding that there was substantial evidence in the record to support the System’s finding that Roach could perform his restricted duty work satisfactorily and thus he was not permanently disabled.

The court dismissed Roache’s appeal, noting that the medical records that Roache had submitted in support of his application contained an opinion from an orthopedic surgeon that he was "able to do light duty."

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