NY's Raise the Age Law Crossroads Detention Center

NY’s Raise the Age Law Creates Obstacles

NY’s Raise the Age Law progressed to its’ next phase on October 1st by raising the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old. This means that the juvenile detention system will be taking on 17 year olds who have potentially committed dangerous crimes.

Previously, 16 and 17 year olds facing felony charges were tried at criminal court and were sent to Rikers. With this new law they will be processed through family court and new youth courts and be sent to Crossroads detention center run by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) or the Horizon juvenile center, run by the Correction Department.

After the first phase of Raise the Age centers saw a rise of assault on staff members and more than 25% rise in contraband, including weapons and illegal substances. David Hansell, ACS chief believes that the rise in contraband is in part due to their increased supervision in hopes to avoid violent situations that could occur due to weapons and illegal drugs.

ACS has plans to implement a new behavior management plan that rewards good behavior with perks such as more phone time. The Administration for Children’s Services will also be assuming management over the Horizon juvenile center, with plans to implement these new behavior tactics.

Another issue, one not expected, was overcrowding at ACS’s Nicholas Scoppetta Children’s Center as teens were sent there for housing needs and not detention as their families refused to take them back in.

Officials have been preparing for a year for this shift but still worry about potentially violent 16 & 17 year olds in less-restrictive environments and what that could mean for the safety of staff and other children in the facilities.

Sean Riordan Honored by NYCD Emerald Society

Sean Riordan Honored by NYCD Emerald Society

MDASR Partner Sean Riordan was honored by the New York City Correction Department Emerald Society as 2019 Honorary Member of the Year. Sean is an outspoken advocate for First Responders, having joined with advocacy groups and Congressional leaders to help pass legislation that affords greater health care and benefits to men and women that respond to emergency situations. Mr. Riordan is also very involved in the Irish-American community. As Past-President of the Nassau County Brehon Law Society, Board Member of the NYC Brehon Law Society and a member of The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Long Island, Sean has been an advocate for human and civil rights in Northern Ireland and a proponent of the continued peace process. We are proud of Sean’s commitment to fighting for the rights of injured workers in need.

Nassau COBA

Nassau COBA Retains MDASR as Disability Counsel

On Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Nassau COBA‘s Board of Governors unanimously voted to retain Sean Riordan and the Law Firm of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan to act as disability counsel for Nassau Corrections Officer Benevolent Association.

MDASR has represented Nassau COBA members in their claims for Workers’ Compensation, Disability Pensions, and Social Security Disability benefits for well over a decade. Over the years we have worked hand-in-hand with Nassau COBA to create a “visitors ¾ bill”, successfully opposed unfair Workers’ Compensation law changes and lobbied for additional benefits for 9/11 First Responders. During this partnership MDASR has been at the forefront of litigation that has expanded the parameters of coverage for Officers claiming ¾ injuries under 607-C of the Retirement & Social Security Law and has created legal precedent which helps Correction Officers throughout the State of New York.

Effective October 1, 2019, as Disability Counsel MDASR will:

  • Waive representation fee ($2,000 savings) for Nassau COBA members for on-the-job occurrences that have a NYS Workers’ Compensation claim
  • Waive representation fee ($2,000 savings) for COBA members who have a permanent injury or illness unrelated to their employment.
  • Help draft and lobby disability legislation on the federal, state and local levels.
  • Provide COBA members 24-Hour Access to an MDASR attorney in the event of an emergency related to the injury of a member.
  • Provide Nassau COBA members free disability consultations.

MDASR looks forward to working with Nassau COBA and providing them with Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability and Disability Pension representation.

2019 African Union Day

MDASR Sponsors African Union Day Celebration

MDASR was proud to sponsor and attend the African Union Day Celebration held at Mercy College on September 9th. The event marked the inaugural “Daylight of Africa” celebration and was dedicated to Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal and US Soldier Private Emmanual Mensah of Ghana for their exemplary leadership and sacrifices. The African Union Day Foundation’s mission is to encourage investment, socio-economic development, and innovation in Africa. We were proud to sponsor this event and look forward to continuing our relationship with this great organization.

Line of duty officers

New Bill to Protect Families of Line of Duty Tragedies

Partner Sean Riordan has worked closely with State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, NYC DEA VP Paul DiGiacomo and line of duty widow, Pai Xia Chen to pass a new bill that would ensure the children of uniformed personnel born after their death, with reproductive technology, are covered under their Social Security Benefits.

Detective Wenjian Liu was fatally shot in 2014 in an ambush that resulted in his and his partner Rafael Ramos untimely death. Det. Liu’s wife of three months had his sperm preserved the night of the incident. She gave birth to his miracle child with the help of in-vitro fertilization in 2017. After applying for Social Security benefits to support their daughter, she was denied under federal law. Currently, New York’s inheritance laws do not include children that are conceived this way and do not recognize the child as his “biological” child. Det. Liu did not give written consent for the use of his sperm or file with the Surrogate Court within 7 months of his death. Therefore, his daughter is not legally protected under his benefits.

The Detectives Endowment Association, Sen. Gounardes, Sean Riordan and Paul DiGiacomo worked tirelessly to create a bill that would include children born this way to be covered under their parents’ benefits. They argue that the federal law must change and evolve with the technology that is now available in reproductive assistance. Allowing widows to create the family with their deceased spouses and legally acknowledging them as biological children who automatically receive benefits.

We thank Senator Gounardes for working with us on this legislation and making it a priority to protect uniformed personnel and their families. We look forward to working with Assemblyman Abbate to pass the bill and fight for the rights of these line of duty children.

To read the full article click here

Work injury leading to opioid addiction

Workers’ Compensation and the Opioid Epidemic

Overuse of pain killers create an opioid addiction

Abuse of opioid prescriptions can lead to addiction
Pain medication for a work-related injury can lead to opioid addiction

Countless families across the United States deal with the catastrophic effects of the opioid epidemic every day. According to the New York State Department of Health, in 2016 there were over 3,000 opioid overdose deaths in New York State alone. Although not every case is eligible for workers' compensation, individuals who were prescribed opioids after a work related injury may be entitled to substantial benefits if such prescriptions contributed to an overdose.

In 2007, our firm represented a client in a workers' compensation case following a motor vehicle collision. Our client had multiple herniated discs and his doctor prescribed opioids for pain relief. Unfortunately, during the years after his injury our client developed an addiction to his prescription opioids and passed away from an overdose. Although our client had not received a workers' compensation prescription in multiple years, we proved his overdose was related to his workers' compensation case because his underlying opioid addiction began with his workers' compensation opioid prescriptions. As a result, our client’s family will receive reimbursement for funeral expenses and our client’s minor children will receive a weekly benefit until at least their 18th birthday.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Additionally, if you or a loved one developed an opioid addiction as a result of a work related injury, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Please contact our office at (866) 557-7500 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation regarding any workers' compensation, pension, or disability matter.

Ryan J. McIntyre, Esq.
Associate Attorney
rmcintyre@licomplaw.com

Partner Sean Riordan featured on Nassau COBA Monthly Podcast

Correction Officers Workers’ Comp – What you need to know

Listen to Nassau COBA's monthly podcast to learn more

Partner Sean Riordan was interviewed on the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association's podcast: COBA Monthly. Host, and NC COBA President, Brian Sullivan and Sean discussed Workers' Comp benefits available for officers injured in the course of their duty and the procedures to follow when you are injured on the job. This includes filling out the proper paper work to begin your workers' compensation claim, obtaining the necessary treatment your doctor prescribes for your injury and hurdles that you may face throughout the process. Sean highlights the process of negotiations with the workers' compensation board and insurance companies, while working with injured workers to get the compensation they deserve.

Sean also discussed the legal elements that a Correction Officer must prove in order to receive 3/4’s retirement benefits due to a permanent disability. Retirement Law Section 607-C benefits were highlighted in the conversation and Sean discussed the various cases currently being litigated which may impact 3/4’s benefits.

MDASR has worked closely with the Nassau Correction Officers in an effort to protect and progress the benefit rights of those who are injured on the job. If you have been injured while working as a corrections officer you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Our attorneys have successfully litigated virtually every type of claim that can come before the Workers' Compensation Board. We have successfully obtained millions of dollars in monetary benefits for our clients. If you have been hurt on the job and have lost time from work, you may qualify to receive a portion of your lost wages and medical expenses. We are dedicated to protecting people who are injured on the job and work our hardest to see that they are justly compensated. Call our office today at (866) 557-7500 to set up a free consultation.

COBA Monthly Podcast August 2019 – Correction Officers Workers’ Comp

New York Social Security Disability Lawyer, NYCERS State Disability Pensions

The NYS Light Duty Standard & NYS Disability Pensions:

When does my job become my Light Duty Responsibilities in the Eyes of the Retirement System?

By:  Sean Patrick Riordan, Esq.

In the course of the last week I have encountered 3 different officers who wished to apply for their disability pensions but had worked in a light duty position for more than two years, and thus faced what is commonly called the “Light Duty Standard of Review” if they choose to file at this time.  The Light Duty Standard of Review almost always ensures denial of a disability pension application, so it is vitally important that officers understand the rules associated with this regulation.

The Light Duty Standard of Review is not found within the NYS Retirement & Social Security Law (RSSL), the law that provides the statutory retirement benefits. Instead, the rule is found within the New York Codes Rules and Regulations (NYCRR), the Retirement System’s rules for administering the benefits provided by law. The specific rule can be found at NYCRR 364.3.

Paraphrasing the law, the Light Duty Standard of Review is applicable when:

  • An officer works 2 years or more in a light duty position without returning to his/her full duty responsibilities;
  • Works greater than 100 hours of overtime in a Light Duty Position in any 12-month period.

The majority of the confusion arises from rule 1 above and the amount of time that an individual has been assigned to a light duty standard. The regulation states that the Light Duty Standard of Review applies when an officer “has been continuously assigned to light, limited or restricted duties for at least 2 years.” In Vicks v. Hevesi, an applicant for disability retirement argued that he had not worked a light duty position for more than 2 years because his injury forced him to miss days from work. In other words, he had not “continuously” worked in such light duty position for the required 2-year period.

The Court rejected Vicks’ argument, finding that although he missed days from work due to his impairments his “assignment” to light duty was indeed continuous and therefore the amount of days Vicks actual worked in that post were irrelevant. The Court looked to the assignment to the duties, not the number of days worked.

For several years attorney’s operated under this “assignment” ruling, looking towards an employer’s roll-call for an officer’s actual duty assignment. However, in 2015 the goalposts once again moved suddenly. In Lamb v. DiNapoli applicant argued that the Light Duty Standard of Review should not apply because he had not been “assigned” to a light duty job for over 2 years. Lamb argued that when he missed time from work due to his injuries his “assignment” actually changed and he was taken off of light duty assignment and assigned to a “no duty” status. The Retirement System argued that the continuous assignment to light duty is not interrupted by absence from work and therefore the Light Duty Standard of Review continued to apply.

The Court upheld the Retirement System’s interpretation of the law as a “rationale, reasonable reading of the regulation” and therefore denied Lamb’s appeal. “The record establishes that petitioner’s absences from work were due to his injuries and not as the result of any reassignment of duties by the employer.” In short, the Court did not consider a “no duty” assignment as an interruption to an officer’s assignment to light duty.

So, where do we stand now? The easiest way to calculate your light duty assignment time is to keep track of the very first day you are assigned light duty following an injury. From that date, you must file an application for disability retirement before 2 years or the Light Duty Standard of Review will apply to your application for retirement benefits.

A simple hypothetical will help illuminate the rule:

Officer X is injured in-the-line-of-duty on December 25, 2019. Following a brief absence from work his department places him on light duty assignment beginning January 1, 2020. After only 2 weeks in this light duty assignment Officer X goes back out of work to have surgery. Following surgery, Officer X never returns to any assignment due to his disabilities and remains in a “no duty” status.

In the above hypothetical Officer X must file his application for disability benefits before January 1, 2022 or the Light Duty Standard of Review will apply to his application. The fact that he did not actually work a light duty post for more than 2 years is irrelevant, his “assignment” to light duty was not interrupted by his mere absence from work for disability pension purposes. Instead, the Retirement System will calculate Officer X’s light duty time from the first date that he is assigned to such a post.

The only way that the light duty time can be interrupted once an officer is assigned to such a post is to return to work in a full duty capacity. Otherwise, an application for disability benefits MUST be filed with the Retirement System before the two-year period elapses or the Light Duty Standard of Review will apply. If an officer files an application before the two-year period passes, the fact that he/she remains in such position during the processing of the application is irrelevant, the full duty standard would still apply to such officer because he filed his application before the two-year period ran out.

Lastly, there is also a false rumor that mandatory overtime is not considered in the calculation of the 100 hours of overtime. In Koenig v. DiNapoli the applicant sought to deduct from the overtime calculation “mandatory overtime for medical evaluations, court appearances and contractual travel overtime benefits.” The Court sided with the Retirement System by finding that its interpretation of the regulation as having included such mandatory overtime as “rationale and reasonable.” Therefore, such overtime is considered in the calculation of overtime for the 100 hours within any 12-month period.

The bottom line is, keep track of the first date you actually are assigned to light duty AND keep track of how many hours of overtime you are being credited for during the year. It could mean the difference between a disability pension or not.

As always, if you have any questions call me any time – (212) 612-3198 or email me at Sean@nycomplaw.com.

Be well and be safe!

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Falling Short

Our 9/11 First Responders and volunteers, the heroes of that fateful day almost 18 years ago, are now facing major health issues due to the harmful debris in the air. They, along with search and rescue team members, are now being diagnosed with aggressive cancers caused by their time spent at Ground Zero. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was created to support heroes and families of those who tragically passed or could no longer work due to injury or illness related to 9/11. What no one suspected is that disease and cancers caused by carcinogenic material would form a decade later. The fund has been extended to support families of those who have been affected years later but is now expected to be depleted by 2020.

First Responders and volunteers risked their lives for the weeks following the attacks and now are seeing their comrades fall sick with aggressive cancers. They now worry they will pay the ultimate price for their bravery. Experts are finding that the life expectancy of cancer patients resulting from 9/11 is about 80 percent shorter than those with cancer unrelated to 9/11. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has paid billions of dollars to support responders in the event they cannot work and thousands depend on it to support their families. Recently those awarded their payments after February 25th only received half of what they are entitled to and those approved after that date are scheduled to receive only 70% of what the fund has historically provided.

MDASR partner, Sean Riordan is actively involved with the 9/11 First Responders DC Lobbying Team and recently went to Washington DC to petition the extension and refunding of the Victims Compensation Act. MDASR continues to fight for the rights of all of our first responders.

Office Workers' Compensation

Avoiding Office Workers’ Compensation Claims

When employers think about workers’ compensation claims they often think of physically demanding jobs; construction workers lifting and operating heavy equipment or law enforcement hurt on the job. However, sedentary office jobs can also pose potential threats to safety and health. Office and administrative workers’ compensation claims can be avoided by being conscious of the risks and making the proper changes and adjustments to the work environment.

Simple tasks like making sure all officer furniture and technology is adaptable to each employee’s preferences, height and optimal comfort can make a positive impact. Companies would be smart to invest more money into computer screens with swivel capabilities, comfortable mouse pads, keyboards, desks and chairs with adjustability options than paying higher workers’ compensation fees for injured workers in the long term.

Encouraging workers to a break from looking at their computer screen all day may decrease productivity for 10 minutes a day. This is insignificant to the potential loss when a worker is out for visual injuries due to prolonged computer use and will cost more for employers in the end. Positioning computer screens approximately two feet from your employees’ eyes will also lessen potential complications.

According to Safety and Health Magazine trips and falls claim the title for the most common office workplace injury. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 32% of office related injuries are due to employees tripping or falling on things that could have been avoided. Managers and supervisors can alleviate these risk by keeping workspaces clear and all potential obstacles removed. This includes stacks of papers, power cords, boxes, open drawers and anything else that could get in the way of a walking employee.

The most effective protocol is keeping an open line of communication with your employees and have proper reporting methods in place for them to state potential risks and any injuries they may come across. Managers that schedule walkthroughs of their company can be alerted of impending risks and hazards and make the proper modifications to reduce the chances of an accident and subsequently an office workers’ compensation claim.

If you have sustained an injury while working in an administrative position you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, contact our attorneys at (866) 557-7500 for a free claim evaluation.