October 08, 2020

Determining a retirement system member's eligibility for accidental disability retirement

On May 9, 2018 the Board of Trustees of the New York City Police Pension Fund [Board] denied a New York City police officer's [Officer] application for accident disability retirement [ADR]. Officer challenged the Board's decision and Supreme Court granting his CPLR Article 78 petition seeking to vacate the Board's determination and awarded Officer ADR benefits retroactive to December 1, 2010. 

The Board appealed and the Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court's ruling "on the law," and dismissed Petitioner's Article 78 action. 

The Appellate Division opined that the Board's denial of Officer's application for ADR benefits was not arbitrary and capricious noting that the relevant date for purposes of disability is at or prior to the applicant's retirement from service, citing Matter of Gullo v Kelly, 50 AD3d 449, leave to appeal denied 11 NY3d 702.

The court noted that the Medical Board's consideration of evidence and reports after Officer's retirement, and its conclusion that Officer was disabled several years after his retirement, "does not change the relevant date for entitlement to ADR" benefits.

Further, said the Appellate Division, the Medical Board was entitled to rely on its own examinations and testing of Officer as well as its review of Officer's medical records. These provided some credible evidence to support the Medical Board's finding that Officer was not disabled at the time of his retirement.

Referring to Matter of Khurana v Kelly, 73 AD3d 497, leave to appeal denied 15 NY3d 715, the court held that the Medical Board "was not bound by the contrary opinions of [Officer's] treating physicians."

The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_05282.htm

 

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