Additional Information put out by Jordan Ziegler of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton and Romano
Now Effective Three Quarters Accidental Heart Bill
Effective immediately, all presently employed police officers and court officers in NYS, as well as Nassau County fire marshalls, finally have a heart bill that will pay a “Three-Quarter (3/4) Accidental” benefit. This is a benefit upgrade from the “Fifty Percent (1/2) Performance of Duty” Heart bill.
The law creates a presumption that any condition of impairment of health caused by diseases of the heart, resulting in disability or death of these members, is now considered an “Accident” for purposes of an Accidental Disability Retirement.
What you should know about the new Three-Quarter Accidental Heart Bill for certain NYSP&F and NYSERS members:
- Rebuttable presumption of work-relatedness and causal connection for heart diseases as line-of-duty accident without the need to sustain an accident.
- Easier qualification for accidental disability retirement benefits.
- Member must be “presently employed” at time of resulting disability or death. Retirees are not eligible.
- While there is a presumption of causation, there is not a presumption of permanent disability. Medical proof of permanent disability to perform job duties is still required.
- Typical “Notice” requirement for “Accident” is waived.
- Heart bill benefits for the disabled are paid at 75% of Final Average Salary (FAS), tax free, less Workers’ Compensation payments. Death claims are paid at 100% of FAS tax-free benefit, less Workers’ Compensation and Social Security disability payments.
The Heart Bill was originally passed in response to the high rates of heart disease and heart attacks among NYSP&F and NYSERS members. Studies have shown these rates are significantly higher than those of the general population. This is likely due to the stressful and demanding nature of the job, which can put a strain on the heart.
This upgraded Heart Bill provides much-needed relief to members who suffer from heart disease or heart attacks and raises the benefit for a member from 50% to 75%, and 100% if the disease caused the death of a member.
Under the law, these NYSP&F and NYSERS members are presumed to have suffered their heart disease in the line of duty and as an “Accident” unless there is evidence to the contrary. This presumption makes it easier for NYSERS members to qualify for accidental disability retirement benefits. However, the Retirement System can still deny benefits if it can prove through competent evidence that the disability is not the natural result of the performance and discharge of duty.
The Heart Bill is not an absolute approval, but it is an important step in protecting the health and safety of officers in NYSP&F and NYSERS. While this heart bill has the same requirements as the long-established heart bill, elevating the benefit is a testament to all the hard work put forth to achieve the commitment of New York State in supporting its law enforcement officers.
Peter D. Meringolo