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Friday, October 07, 2011

Injury on the job may not qualify for accidental disability retirement benefits


Injury on the job may not qualify for accidental disability retirement benefits
Silver-Smith v McCall, 298 AD2d 696

Fred Silver-Smith, a court officer, applied for accidental disability retirement benefits as a result of an injury that he sustained in the course of physically restraining and removing an unruly prisoner from the courtroom where he was working. His application was rejected by the Employees' Retirement System because "the incident involved a risk inherent in [Silver-Smith's] employment and did not constitute a qualifying accident as that term is used in Retirement and Social Security Law Section 605-a."

Quoting from McCambridge v McGuire, 67 NY2d 563, the Appellate Division said that for the purposes of establishing a valid claim for an accidental disability retirement benefit, the individual must demonstrate that he or she was the victim of "a precipitating accidental event ... which was not a risk of the work performed."
Since Silver-Smith's injury was conceded to have occurred as the result of his having restrained a person who was threatening the peace and security of a court proceeding, and this activity was a regular, though infrequent, part of his duties, the court ruled that his injury "resulted from a recognized risk inherent in [Silver-Smith's] normal duties and thus was not an accident within the ambit of the statute."

Although the specific outburst which required Silver-Smith's intervention in this instance was abrupt and unexpected, the court said that the "maintenance of order by restraining unruly persons in the courtroom was a recognized part of his normal duties." Accordingly, the Appellate Division ruled that there is substantial evidence supporting the Comptroller's determination that Silver-Smith did not qualify for accidental disability retirement benefits.

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

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances 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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