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June 04, 2013

Benefits available to certain dependents of a volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty

Benefits available to certain dependents of a volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty
Dickinson v Cape Vincent Volunteer Fire Dept., 2013 NY Slip Op 03723, Appellate Division, Third Department

The Lt. Michael E. Neuner/Timothy Goff Memorial Death Benefit Program [see Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law §7(46)], provides, among other benefits available to dependents of volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty, for payments “for the support of each parent or grandparent of the deceased if dependent upon the deceased at the time of the injury.” *

Marsha Dickinson, the mother of a volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty,* applied for benefits for herself and the volunteer firefighter's younger brother, contending that they were "dependent upon the deceased at the time of his death."

The Workers' Compensation Board ultimately agreed, whereupon the employer and its workers' compensation carrier appealed the Board’s determination.

The Appellate Division, noting that "The issue of dependency is a factual one for the Board to resolve and, if supported by substantial evidence, its decision will not be disturbed", affirmed the Board’s decision.

Noting that the record indicated that the volunteer firefighter lived with his mother, his stepfather and his younger brother and that the parents worked very little due to their physical limitations, and his brother, a high school student, worked part time at a grocery store and that the volunteer firefighter “was the primary breadwinner for the family,” the Appellate Division concluded that “Given these facts, the Board properly found ‘that the loss of . . . decedent's financial contribution had an adverse or detrimental effect on the claimant’ and decedent's brother thereby warranting an award of benefits.”

* $532 per week is payable during such dependency is payable pursuant to §7(46), but in no case may the aggregate amount payable under §7(46) exceed $887 per week.

** The volunteer firefighter was shot and killed by a patient in the course of his work as a volunteer firefighter/emergency medical technician.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_03723.htm

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