I represent a 48 year old hospital executive whose application for disability retirement benefits under Article 15 of the Retirement and Social Security Law was recommended by the Medical Board four months after it was filed. To qualify for a disability pension, an applicant has to show that he or she is permanently incapacitated from performing his or her regular job duties. This showing requires linking the medical evidence to the vocational evidence.
The claimant sustained injuries when hit by a car at work. The medical evidence from the claimant’s orthopedists, internists, and physiatrist provided the clinical findings to support their opinions regarding the claimant’s restrictions and limitations. The clinical findings and opinions were further corroborated by diagnostic tests, hospital records, and medication prescribed. Additionally, I explained how the Social Security Disability and Workers Compensation reports and awards substantiated the NYCERS claim.
Once the functional capacity was objectively supported, I established the claimant’s work duties through Department of Labor publications and a vocational evaluation. The key was demonstrating how the claimant’s restrictions and limitations precluded her from performing the work duties and physical requirements identified in the publications and vocational evaluation, as that showed a permanent incapacity from performing regular job duties.
It is always possible that the claimant may eventually have been approved for a disability pension without the vocational evidence. However, the claimant’s chances of succeeding, and doing so initially, certainly improved by addressing the vocational as well as the medical evidence.