Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Conflicting medical opinions


Conflicting medical opinions
Buczynski v NYSERS, 291 AD2d 630

Daniel Buczynski, a marketing specialist for the State's Lottery Division, filed an application for disability retirement benefits in January 1997. The basis for his application: anxiety and depression.

Buczynski had stopped working in May 1996 for what was ultimately diagnosed as panic attacks and depression. Buczynski claimed that his condition was the result of increased work and he developed Bell's palsy.

His psychologist said that Buczynski:

1. "continued to exhibit significant cognitive deficits despite several years of therapy and medication" and

2. "was permanently disabled from performing his duties."

The Retirement System's psychiatrist who examined Buczynski in July 1997 "opined that [Buczynski] had suffered a major depression in 1996 that left him unable to perform his duties but that [Buczynski's] condition had improved, that he had no cognitive deficiency and that, with further treatment, he should be able to return to the type of work he had been doing."

In other words, the System's psychiatrist concluded that Buczynski was not permanently disabled from the performance of his duties. Based upon the psychiatrist's opinion, the System denied Buczynski's application for disability retirement.

In response to Buczynski's appeal, the Appellate Division held that there was no merit to Buczynski's claim that the psychiatrist's opinion was insufficient to provide the necessary substantial evidence to support the Comptroller's determination.

The court said that "[w]here, as here, the Retirement System's expert provides an articulated, rational and fact-based opinion, founded upon a physical examination and review of relevant medical reports and records, the expert's opinion generally will not be considered so lacking in foundation or rationality as to preclude the Comptroller from exercising the authority to evaluate conflicting medical opinions...."

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

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Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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