November 13, 2020

A decision denying an employee's application for disability retirement benefits that is supported by credible medical evidence is not arbitrary and capricious

The petitioner [Plaintiff] in this CPLR Article 78 proceeding applied for disability retirement benefits pursuant to §507-c of the Retirement and Social Security Law contending that he was injured while working as a correction officer with the New York City Department of Correction.

The Board of Trustees [Trustees] of the New York City Employees' Retirement System [NYCERS] denied Plaintiff's application for disability retirement benefits in consideration of the recommendation of NYCERS' Medical Board [Board]. Plaintiff challenged the Trustees determination but Supreme Court rejected Plaintiff's Article 78 petition and dismissed the proceeding. Plaintiff appealed the Supreme Court's ruling.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's decision, with costs.

The Appellate Division explained that the Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding based on its finding that the Trustees had adopted the recommendation of the Board, which recommendation was supported by credible medical evidence and thus was not arbitrary and capricious.

Citing Matter of Drummond v New York City Employees' Retirement Sys., 98 AD3d 1116, the court noted that the Board's determination "is conclusive if it is supported by some credible evidence and is not arbitrary or capricious." Here, said the Appellate Division, "the record demonstrates that the [Board] performed physical and psychological examinations of the [Plaintiff] and considered his medical evidence."

Although the medical conclusions of some of the Plaintiff's treating physicians differed from those of the Board, "the resolution of such conflicts is the sole province of the Medical Board." As the determination of the Board was supported by credible evidence, the Appellate Division opined that the Trustees' adoption of the Board's recommendation and denying the Plaintiff's application for disability retirement benefits was not irrational, arbitrary, or capricious.

Accordingly, the Appellate Division said it agreed with the Supreme Court's decision  rejecting Plaintiff''s Article 78 petition and dismissing Plaintiff's appeal.

The decision is posted on the Internet at