To qualify for a disability pension under NYCERS, a police officer needs to show the inability to perform his past work. By contrast, to qualify for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, a police officer needs to show the inability to perform any other work. Therefore, it would seem that a favorable NYCERS decision would not be that helpful when applying for SSD benefits. However, that is not necessarily true for two reasons.
An SSD claimant has the burden of proving that he or she cannot do past work. If successful the SSA then has the burden of proving the claimant can do other work. If a claimant has worked as a police officer for the last 15 years and qualified for a disability pension under NYCERS then that basically satisfies the burden of proving the inability to do past work. It would be virtually impossible for the SSA to argue that it is in a better position to assess a police officer’s ability to work as a police officer than the police department and its medical board. Therefore, a favorable NYCERS decision shifts the burden of proving disability from the police officer to the SSA.
If the police officer is older than 50, then consequences are even more significant. I just obtained SSD benefits without a hearing for a 53 year old police officer because of his NYCERS decision. The SSA accepted the argument that he could not perform his past work as a police officer because the police medical board found him disabled. I then argued that a police officer has no skills that are transferable to sedentary work, which the SSA accepted. The “vocational-medical rules” state that a claimant who is older than 50 years old with a history of non-sedentary work, without transferable skills, must be found disabled. Therefore, the SSA had to find the police officer disabled.Previous Next
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