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Department of Corrections

Monday, July 13, 2015

Understanding the Basics of New York Civil Service Disability Benefits

Am I eligible for disability retirement benefits as an employee of the Department of Corrections?

Fortunately, the financial security afforded by a disability pension through the State and City of New York is not limited solely to police officers and first responders. Other civil service employees are also entitled to certain benefits in the event of an on-the-job accident, injury or medical condition that precludes the continuation of work.  From the Department of Corrections to the Department of Sanitation, a disability pension may be available to help offset the enormous costs of medical bills and lost wages incurred as a result of a career-ending injury. We encourage you to contact an experienced civil service disability attorney as soon as possible following your injury in order to assure greater likelihood of success. 

Types of civil service accident claims

As a civil servant, there are generally two types of claims that can result in disability benefits. The first is known as a civil service accident, and is generally classified as a sudden, fortuitous, out- of- the-ordinary mischance that is injurious in impact, such as:

  • Slip and fall while on the job
  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Injuries while effecting an arrest
  • Injuries while fighting a fire
  • Harm caused by defective equipment
  • Certain illnesses contracted by on-the-job exposure. 

Not all injuries at work qualify as accidents. Non-accidental injuries may also qualify for pension benefits. Typically they result in lesser monthly income than that of an accidental disability pension.

 

For Correction Officers to win a 3/4’s pay disability benefit, the cause of the disability must be incurred as the natural and proximate result of an act of an inmate. The only circumstance under which a Correction Officer may be eligible for a 3/4’s pension beyond such an event is if they qualify for a presumptive bill pension, such as the Heart Bill, the Infectious Disease Bill, or the World Trade Center Bill.

Navigating the tier system

There are several tiers within the civil service realm that help dictate the extent of a claimant’s eligible benefits. Within the non-uniformed sector (i.e., workers other than police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, emergency medical personnel, and sanitation workers), there are six pension tiers, and generally the longer a claimant has worked for New York, the greater the benefit available. Likewise, the tier will also determine whether a contribution is necessary, and what formula should be used to calculate the total benefit amount.

The process to obtain uniform civil service disability benefits in New York can be daunting, and we recommend seeking the assistance of a reputable attorney. For help, call the Seelig Law Offices at 212-766-0600. 


Monday, June 1, 2015

NYC Mayor Proposes New Calculation for Disability Pensions

I am a recently hired uniformed employee of New York City. Are there any proposed increases scheduled for my disability pension? 


Many of New York City’s uniformed officers rely on the availability of disability pension funds in the event of an unforeseen injury or disability. With the costs of living steadily rising and disability claims congruently increasing across the city, Mayor De Blasio recently unveiled his plan to recalculate the amount available for the city’s police, firefighters, and other workers enduring dangerous and hazardous work conditions. 

Under the new plan, which covers the New York Police Department, the Fire Department of New York, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Sanitation, the calculation of disability payments would rely on the employee’s final average salary or “basic maximum salary,” whichever happens to be greater. Moreover, the calculation would remove the offset currently in place to adjust for the payment of Social Security benefits. Lastly, De Blasio proposes an updated formula to adjust for cost of living expenses. 

Using several commonplace examples, the Mayor’s office explained that many of the city’s hardworking employees would see increases as high as 65 percent. Of course, the measure will require final approval by the New York General Assembly, which meets regularly in Albany. 

Currently, disability pensions are calculated using a tiered system based on  the date the employee joined the pension system. This tiered system has caused significant conflict between the mayor and groups like the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Another bill being considered by the legislature would restore 75% of disability pay to police and fire members. The bill should be amended to include uniform correction officers and sanitation workers.   

If you are a NYC employee and have questions about your disability benefits, we encourage you to contact the disability law attorneys at the Seelig Law Offices as soon as possible. You can reach our office by calling (212)766-0600 today. 


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