The results of the 2020 Department of Correction Mayor’s Management Report are alarming.
Serious injuries caused by violence between inmates within facilities operated by the New York City Department of Correction rose 284% in fiscal year 2020. While some of the injuries can be attributed to a new department policy which changed the definition of “serious injuries,” working for the DOC is obviously dangerous.
However, the changed definition cannot account for the entire increase. Over the past five years, there has been a trend toward more assets on staff and more staff injuries.
All this comes as the population of incarcerated individuals is decreasing. According to the report, “as legislation diverting low-level, nonviolent offenders has gone into effect and the Department’s overall population has declined, to historic levels due to intentional efforts by the City and others in response to COVID-19, the Department has found itself managing a particularly challenging population made up of individuals charged with more serious offenses, who are more frequently affiliated with gangs, and who are more violent while incarcerated.”
As the former president of the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association (1979-1993), our firm’s managing partner Philip Seelig is quite familiar with the demanding work and unsafe conditions that corrections officers are often exposed to. That is one of the reasons the Seelig Law Group is passionate about helping DOC personnel get the disability pension benefits they deserve.
Just like other civil service employees, corrections officers are entitled to certain benefits in the event of an on-the-job accident, injury, or medical condition that prevents them from working. Under the New York State Retirement Law, corrections officers injured by the actions of an inmate during the performance of their duties are entitled to a lifetime pension equal to three-quarters of their final average salary. Corrections officers are also entitled to the Heart Bill, which is New York legislation that creates a presumption that disabling heart conditions are the result of work related stressors.
However, just because corrections officers are entitled to these benefits does not mean they have an easy time claiming them. In an attempt to cut costs and prevent corruption, New York keeps making it harder for DOC employees to claim the benefits they deserve.
At the Seelig Law Group we fight to get corrections officers and other civil service employees the pension benefits they were promised. If you have been injured on the job, we can assist you with the initial application for benefits, or appeal a denial or other unfavorable outcome. Don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of service.