Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Worker’s Compensation Nightmare Keeps on Coming.

On November 30, 2012 NYCERS sent an unsigned letter to a former subway conductor. NYCERS has been sending this disabled retiree $283.30 a month for the last 21 years.

The letter notified the retiree that 1) his benefit is subject to an offset of any Workers’ Compensation payment and 2) since he has been receiving $150 a week from the Workers’ Compensation Board that his pension will be suspended as of January, 2013. NYCERS provides no detail about how this Workers’ Compensation information came to light 21 years after the member retired. No statutory reference was given.

NYCERS will graciously continue to pay him a “nominal” amount so that he may retain his health insurance.

In addition NYCERS stated that since he has been receiving the $150/week Workers’ Compensation payment since 12/01/1991, his NYCERS disability benefit was and is equal to $0.00 per month.

While this can be argued to be legally correct, such a draconian result demands a close legal interpretation of the statute. This retiree contributed 3% of his salary to NYCERS for eight years before becoming disabled. This interpretation of the statute provides this member with nothing for the money he contributed. It is hard to conclude that this was the legislative intent.

The final thrust of the NYCERS letter is a claim by NYCERS against the retiree of a repayment of $99,355.18 for the monthly payment of $283.30 over the last 21 years. NYCERS states that it may take action to recoup the money. Of course, NYCERS offers the retiree the option of sending a check or money order payable to NYCERS for the full amount. It appears that the $99,355.18 includes all the cost of living adjustments (COLA) that the retiree received. I am almost certain that NYCERS does not have specific directions from the Law Department to deny COLA payments to such retirees. Of course NYCERS sent no calculations supporting the $99,355.18 amount.

Again, NYCERS graciously advises the retiree that if he has any questions he can call the pension payroll unit or visit customer service at Jay Street.

No one signed the letter.

I never cease to be amazed at how secretive, clumsy, insensitive and unprofessional NYCERS can be. This is especially true for an agency that has a budget that is free from the constraints that other city agencies have to work under.