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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. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Police Officers and World Trade Center Injuries

Can Police Officers and Other Emergency Responders Obtain or Increase Disability Benefits Almost 15 Years After the Attacks?

Most Americans are familiar with the extensive funds amassed by various organizations for the victims of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. While much of this money was dispersed as intended, the majority of it went to individuals who were lost or injured inside the towers on the day of the attack. For hundreds of 9/11 emergency responders who suffered, and for their families, financial recourse for injuries and fatalities has come mainly from municipal pension plans and various private and work-related insurance policies.

Obtaining lump sum or ongoing compensation immediately following an accident can be difficult. Obtaining it more than a decade after the event can be even more challenging. But if a World Trade Center emergency responder experiences new, ongoing or increasing injury symptoms resulting from 9/11, he or she can pursue compensation.

An example of this type of case is one involving former NYC police officer Annmarie Sheldon. Ms. Sheldon spent 300 hours at Ground Zero in 2001, after which her health deteriorated rapidly. Under World Trade Center presumption laws, she pursued accidental disability retirement benefits from the Police Pension Fund. Fund administrators denied her request, stating there was no link between her 9/11 service and health problems. Ms. Sheldon appealed. 

Earlier this month, a judge found in favor of Ms. Sheldon, stating that the evidence shows that she “did not have fibromyalgia before September 11, 2001” and that her disabling condition developed “in the wake of her WTC exposure.” As a result of her case, Ms. Sheldon will receive an additional $2,500 per month for her WTC-related injuries. 

If you are a police officer, firefighter or other type of emergency responder currently facing injuries or questions relating to your World Trade Center service, make sure your rights to financial compensation are fully protected by contacting the New York City disability attorneys of Seelig Law Offices, LLC, in Manhattan. We have successfully fought for the rights of hundreds of injured NYC workers. Call (212)766-0600.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Police Officer Allowed to Fight Denial of Disability Benefits in Court of Appeals

If you are a uniform civil service member, is an agency denial of disability benefits final?

When it comes to New York City police, firefighters and other uniform civil service members, those injured on the job are usually entitled to some type of disability benefit.  These benefits come in grades and trouble often arises when a civil servant requests that his or her disability benefits be increased in some way.  One New York Police Department (NYPD) Officer has recently been involved in just this type of litigation.  

In 2008, a fire erupted in a New York City apartment building.  Officer Robert Pastalove arrived at the scene and immediately ran into the burning building to alert the occupants.  The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) arrived and as Pastalove exited the building he was instructed to move his car.  As he walked over to his car, two hoses laid out by firefighters unexpectedly filled up with water, causing Pastalove to trip.  He sustained injuries to his hand and wrist as a result of the fall.  

Pastalove applied for and was granted ordinary disability benefits from the NYPD.  After some time, he applied for a type of enhanced benefits from the department.  The New York City Police Pension Fund Board of Trustees took a vote and tied.  Following standard procedure, the tied vote caused the Board to deny Pastalove’s request.  

Pastalove then brought an Article 78 proceeding in the Manhattan Supreme Court.  The court denied the petition and the denial was affirmed by the Appellate Division First Department.  But, the court later granted Pastalove leave to appeal the First Department’s decision to the New York State Court of Appeals.  One justice of the Appellate Division noted that a decision like this could cause our first responders to be more reluctant to do their jobs as they might fear being injured and left without enhanced benefits.  It will be interesting to see whether the Court of Appeals agrees with this assessment.

If you are a police officer, firefighter or any other type of civil service worker, and were injured on the job, you might be entitled to disability benefits.  The New York City attorneys at the Seelig Law Offices regularly fight for the rights of injured workers.  Contact us by calling (212)766-0600 for a free consultation today.


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