This involves a case where the court denied the petition stating that petitioner was not eligible for an RSSL Sec. 607-b pension when she applied for pension for benefits.
Petitioner began working as an EmergencyMedical Technician (EMT) with the FDNY in 1992. She is a Tier 4 Member of NYCERS pension fund. In 1995, petitioner was involved in a line of duty ambulance accident, sustaining spinal injuries. As a result, petitioner was out of work on paid sick leave for approximately 18 months. When she returned to work, it was determined that she could no longer work on an ambulance because of her injuries. She was assigned to work as a dispatcher. Over time, her condition worsened and she developed severe pain and locking of her hands. Petitioner, on May 10, 2006, was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, disc herniations at C5-6 and L5-S1, left radiculopathy, tendinitis, fluid in the distal ulnar joint and bi-lateral ulnar neuropathy. Accordingly, on that day, petitioner stopped working for medical reasons and remained on an unpaid medical leave of absence. Then, on August 10, 2006 and September 28, 2006, petitioner underwent carpal tunnel release surgeries.
FDNY, by letter dated July 30, 2008, advised petitioner CARTER that because she had been absent and unable to perform her job since April 2, 2007, her employment was subject to be terminated on August 11, 2008.
Petitioner, in support of the instant petition, contends that her medical condition and history, as discussed above, establish that she was disabled as the result of a line of duty injury. Respondents, in opposition, argue that petitioner is not entitled to receive an RSSL § 607-b pension, since an applicant must still be employed in an eligible title when applying pursuant to RSSL § 607-b (a). Thus, since petitioner’s employment had been terminated as of August 11, 2008 and her application was not filed before that date, she was ineligible to receive RSSL § 607-b benefits.
RSSL § 607-b (a), which provides for a line of duty disability retirement pension, states:
Any member of the New York city employees’ retirement system who is employed by the city of New York or by the New York city health and hospital corporation in the position of emergency medical technician or advanced emergency medical technician … who … becomes physically or mentally incapacitated for the performance of duties as the natural and proximate result of an injury, sustained in the performance or discharge of his or her duties shall be paid a performance of duty disability retirement allowance equal to three-quarters of final average salary.
The Court is compelled to conclude that because RSSL § 607-b (a) does not reference or incorporate the language of RSSL § 605(b)(2), petitioner in The Bronx is not entitled to the extended time to file as is provided in the latter provision. Accordingly, RSSL § 607-b (a) must be interpreted as written, applying only to “[a]ny member of the New York city employees’ retirement system who is employed by the city of New York or by the New York city health and hospital corporation in the position of emergency medical technician or advanced emergency medical technician [ emphasis added ].”
Thus, it follows that the Long Island Court has no authority to afford petitioner the relief that she seeks. In so holding, it is noted that any request for relief on the ground that the Legislature intended to provide better protection for EMTs who are injured in the line of duty would be better addressed by the Legislature. ( See Matter of Lidakis v. NYCERS, 27 Misc.3d 1150, 1157 , which discusses the Legislature’s response to the Court of Appeals’ Roberts v. Murphy decision, with the amendment of RSSL § 607-b [L.2004, c. 725, § 1, eff. Nov. 24, 2004], to specifically provide that an EMT NYCERS’ member who makes an application for § 607-b retirement shall be entitled to invoke the medical review procedure provided for in RSSL § 605[e] ). This is also supported by the above quoted provisions of the SPD Booklet and by the retirement applications, as well as the general principle of law that provides th.at the construction given statutes and regulations by the agency responsible for their administration, if not irrational or unreasonable, should be upheld.
Stephen Bilkis and Associates with its New York Injury Lawyers are willing to provide you with assistance you need. It has pool of lawyers eager to help and give you the justice provided by the statute. It has offices located within New York Metropolitan area, including Corona, New York.