The Wrong Habit

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Q: While walking on ice and snow, in my line-of-duty as a New York City police officer, I fell.  I applied for accident disability retirement – based on constant pain, and loss of range of motion, in my right shoulder and neck, and pain radiating into my arm.  Injuries like that prevent an officer from performing his duties.  My application was granted.

A year later, a police department investigator reported that I was picking up siding, passing it to others, lifting it over my head and nailing materials above my head with both arms extended.  The pension fund’s medical board concluded that my condition had improved dramatically, and the board of trustees voted that I should return to some kind of city service.

But a week later, I was disqualified from returning to work: they found cocaine in my hair sample.  Despite that, am I entitled to keep my disability pension?

A: Section 13–254 of the New York City Administrative Code provides that a disability pensioner found able to work is put on a civil service list.  His pension is reduced based upon outside earnings and upon the amount earnable in any city job that is offered.  Although you were put on a civil service list, apparently you cannot be given a job because of your cocaine use.

Unfortunately, the statute in its most recent form does not specifically address this situation.  Until the statute is revised, it is possible that a court will let you ‘benefit’ from using cocaine, keeping your benefits without working, but don’t bank on that.

You have not told me that the board of trustees has already reduced or terminated your benefits.  If it has not, then perhaps now is the time to reconsider your fondness for cocaine.  Perhaps you will get a second test, be found eligible and have better hopes of continuing to have a source of income – whether from benefits or from actual city earnings.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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