A proposal to increase workplace disability benefits for New York City firefighters and police officers has received strong support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others attempting to fix a six-year-old loophole in legislation which unfairly punishes such employees in New York City, according to New York workplace accident attorney Edgar Romano of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP.
“Just because a New York City police officer or firefighter was hired within the last six years doesn’t mean they should have to suffer if they’re injured on the job,” Romano said. “New York’s firefighters and police officers put their lives at risk every single day on our behalf. The least we can do is provide all of them with fair and equal benefits if they sustain a serious injury on the job.”
On June 10, New York’s City Council approved a proposal 31-17 aimed at giving New York City firefighters and police officers hired after 2009 the same benefits as similar employees in the city, according to an article in The New York Times. Recommended by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, the proposed legislation would increase how much New York City first responders hired after 2009 receive from 50 to 75 percent of their salary if they are unable to work and collecting Social Security Disability benefits. If these injured workers do not qualify for Social Security, they would receive 50 percent of their salary. (The New York Times, “New York City Council Suddenly Passes New Police and Firefighter Disability Pension Benefits,” June 10, 2015)
But de Blasio’s proposal doesn’t go far enough, according to Jim Slevin, vice president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, who was quoted by The Legislative Gazette. Instead, Slevin said all injured New York City firefighter and police officers should receive 75 percent of their “final average salary not further reduced by taxes or Social Security,” according to The Legislative Gazette. Except for New York City, all firefighters and police officers in New York State receive such benefits. (The Legislative Gazette, “Cuomo joins push for better disability benefits for NYC finest, bravest,” June 15, 2015)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agrees. “Every other cop and every other firefighter in the state of New York gets 75 percent and New York City gets 50 percent, and then we deducted the Social Security, which would come out to as little as $27 a day, and the bottom line is, how is this fair, how is this right?” Cuomo said at a rally in Albany, N.Y. on June 10, according to the Legislative Gazette article.
Providing injured New York City firefighters and police officers will the money they rightfully deserve to live their lives with dignity should not be up for debate, Romano said. “This is a very straightforward issue that will hopefully be resolved in a timely manner,” Romano said. “No firefighter or police officer in New York City should have to work in fear of financial ruin just because they’re doing their job. We cannot let this situation continue for one more day. Lawmakers need to take action to correct this flaw in the system and do the right thing.”