June 3, 2014

An applicant for an accidental or line of duty disability retirement allowance has the burden of establishing that he or she is entitled to such a retirement allowance


An applicant for an accidental or line of duty disability retirement allowance has the burden of establishing that he or she is entitled to such a retirement allowance

The State Comptroller denied a police officer’s application for accidental disability retirement benefits on the ground that he was not permanently incapacitated from the performance of his duties. The Appellate Division sustained the Comptroller’s decision explaining that an applicant for accidental disability retirement benefits bares the burden of establishing that he or she was permanently incapacitated from performing his or her duties as a police officer and in the event there are conflicts in the medical evidence, the Comptroller may credit the opinion of one expert over another, and that determination will not be disturbed when supported by substantial evidence. [Appellate Division, Third Department, 2014 NY Slip Op 02998]

In another case challenging the Comptroller's disapproval of an application for accidental disability retirement benefits submitted by a court officer on the ground that the underlying incident did not constitute an accident within the meaning of the Retirement and Social Security Law, the Appellate Division sustained the Comptroller decision, explaining that substantial evidence supports the determination. In order to qualify for accidental disability retirement benefits, the court officer was obligated to show that his injuries resulted from an accident, i.e., an event that is "a sudden, fortuitous mischance, unexpected, out of the ordinary, and injurious in impact.  To constitute an accident, the event must arise from risks that are not inherent to court officer's regular employment duties. [Appellate Division, Third Department, 2014 NY Slip Op 03003, 2014]

In a third case the Appellate Division sustained the Comptroller’s rejection of a correction officer application for performance of duty disability retirement benefits based upon work-related injuries she suffered in 2010. The Hearing Officer found that the correction officer had not established that the injuries she suffered were the result of an act of an inmate. The court said that the correction officer bore the burden of demonstrating that the incident in which she sustained her injuries was "the natural or proximate result of any act of an inmate," explaining that “based upon [the correction officer’s] testimony and the incident report completed at the time of the incident, there is a rational basis for the conclusion that the incident was not caused by any direct interaction with an inmate.” [Appellate Division, Third Department, 2014 NY Slip Op 03004]
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