__________________________________

Nominations sought for the Empire Star Public Service Award

This award recognizes exemplary employees of New York State serving in the Executive Branch.

Nominations must be submitted no later than December 15, 2017 and may be completed online.

For more information about the Empire Star Public Service Award, visit www.ny.gov/EmpireStarPublicService.

______________________________


To search this database type in a word or phrase in the box in the upper left and any material containing the word or phrase will be displayed for your review.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The test applied to determine if an individual is eligible for accidental disability retirement is whether he or she is permanently unable to perform the full duties of the position


The test applied to determine if an individual is eligible for accidental disability retirement is whether he or she is permanently unable to perform the full duties of the position
Cook v New York State Comptroller, 2016 NY Slip Op 00236, Appellate Division, Third Department

Brent J. Cook Jr., a police lieutenant employed by the Nassau County Police Department as an administrative supervisor, was injured in a motor vehicle accident while on duty. When Cook returned to work on or about March 30, 2010, he was placed on restricted-duty status, i.e., he "was no longer allowed to perform patrol function[s]" and instead was limited to working in a clerical capacity.

In February 2011, Cook applied for accidental disability retirement benefits alleging that he was permanently incapacitated from the performance of his duties due to certain neck and back injuries sustained in the accident.

The NYS Employees’ Retirement System rejected Cook’s application and he requested a hearing and redetermination. The Hearing Officer found that Cook failed to establish that he was permanently incapacitated from the performance of his duties and upheld the denial of his application for benefits. The State Comptroller, in turn, adopted the Hearing Officer's findings and recommendation and Cook sued challenging the Comptroller’s decision.

Citing 2 NYCRR 364.3[a], the Appellate Division noted that “Where, as here, the applicant ‘has been assigned to light, limited or restricted duties for less than two years prior to the date [upon which the] application for disability retirement benefits was filed with [respondent,] . . . the issue of permanent incapacity [shall be determined] on the basis of the duties and job requirements of such previous full duty assignment.’”

Cook had testified, without contradiction, that he never returned to full-duty status as a lieutenant during the less than one year that elapsed between the date of his return to work and the date upon which he applied for accidental disability retirement benefits. The Department’s Chief of Patrol for the Department confirmed that the full duties of the position entailed performing patrol functions, which included, among other things, entering and exiting a patrol vehicle, responding to an emergency, making an arrest and engaging in heavy lifting.

Significantly, said the court, “Although numerous individuals offered various estimates as to what percentage of [Cook’s] actual duties were administrative versus patrol in nature, the fact remains that petitioner's full duties entailed performing patrol functions — tasks that he was not allowed to resume after he returned to work on restricted-duty status.”

Although it is true that the State Comptroller “is vested with the exclusive authority to weigh [conflicting medical] evidence and credit the opinion of one medical expert over another" here the Appellate Division ruled that Comptroller’s expert opinion upon which he relied, “misses the mark.”

The court explained that “The dispositive inquiry for purposes of determining disability is not whether [Cook] is capable of indefinitely performing the clerical tasks assigned to him while on restricted duty but, rather, whether he is capable of performing the full duties of a police lieutenant.” The court then said that “the record as a whole clearly establishes that [Cook] is incapable of returning to full-duty status,” and concluded that the Comptroller’s determination “cannot be said to be supported by substantial evidence.”

The Appellate Division annulled the Comptroller’s determination and remanded the matter “for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court's decision.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

The Disability Benefits E-book: - This 810 page e-book focuses on disability benefits available to officers and employees in public service pursuant to Civil Service Law §§71, 72 and 73, General Municipal Law §207-a and §207-c, the Retirement and Social Security Law, the Workers’ Compensation Law, and similar provisions of law. For more information click on: http://section207.blogspot.com/
_______________

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/

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/

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader should seek such advice from a competent professional.

Items published in NYPPL may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission to copy and distribute such material. Send your request via e-mail to publications@nycap.rr.com

Copyright© 1987 - 2017 by the Public Employment Law Press.



___________________



N.B. From time to time a political ad or endorsement may appear in the sidebar of this Blog. NYPPL does not have any control over such posting.

_____________________

.