Friday, August 17, 2012

How far does $10 a month go?

I previously commented on the Workers' Comp issue at NYCERS, specifically as it effects a retired transit police officer who retired 28 years ago on an accident disability benefit.

This week the Chief wrote a front page story about the terrible treatment that this retiree has had to endure at the hands of the current management at NYCERS. It appears that NYCERS is going after 37 disabled retirees for WC payments that NYCERS claims it failed to withhold from the retirees' benefit.

The Chief particularly quotes the NYCERS legal director, Ms. Mazza, as follows: "we're trying to leave them with something in their pocket at the end of the month," referring to the 37 lucky retirees. I guess $10 counts as something or maybe $5 is good enough.

So two weeks ago I get a call from a retired bus driver. He had retired from NYCERS 27 years ago on a accident disability benefit. His bus had been hit by a truck. You guessed it. NYCERS is coming after him for WC payments that NYCERS claims it had not deducted from his $1,486 monthly benefit check. The original benefit was $1,012 and the increase was due to cost of living adjustments over the years.

We're talking about high finance here. In 1985 NYCERS approved the retiree for an annual accident disability benefit equal to the grand amount of $12,151.

In a January 20, 2012 unsigned letter, without any due process, NYCERS notifies the retiree that NYCERS is reducing his monthly pension from $1,486 to $943. Then in June NYCERS comes with the coup de gras. In a June 1, 2012 unsigned letter, NYCERS tells him that he owes NYCERS $173,522 and that NYCERS is going to further reduce his pension to $10 a month until 2027. Yes, I said $10 a month for the next 15 years.

I wonder if Local 100, T.W.U. is aware of this situation. The president of Local 100 is a permanent NYCERS trustee.

First, it has not been determined that there should be a WC offset in this case. It is NYCERS's responsibility to determine whether the WC payments are for the same disability. The Transit Authority WC division should be able to provide NYCERS whith the information to make that determination. NYCERS can then properly notify the retiree of the determination and the evidence supporting the decision. The retiree just might have some information to support a no offset decision. We have to always remember that this is 27 years after the point when this decision should have been made.

Second, if there is an offset, it was NYCERS fault that the offset was not taken. There is no statutory repayment schedule. That means the repayment schedule is discretionary and under no circumstances should it be punitive. In fact, NYCERS needs to be as conciliatory as possible since the agency caused this problem, not the retiree. In fact, there is a legitimate argument that NYCERS has no right to withhold any of the cost of living adjustment amounts.

1 comment:

VillageConfidential said...

Mr. Murphy, Find myself in almost identical situation.

Do you have a business # or address.