Employee Relations

Allowing Retirement Plan Changes Once a Disability Occurs

The Mandate: The provisions of General Municipal Law § 207-a and § 207-c require that in the event a workplace injury to a paid firefighter or police officer prevents the performance of work, a municipal disability payment that is equal to the full amount of regular salary or wages must be continued until the individual reaches the mandatory retirement age established by the retirement plan in which he or she is a member. Many firefighters and police officers are enrolled in special retirement plans which require a retirement at age 62, if disabled. In order to extend their disability payments (which are more generous than their retirement benefit), firefighters and police officers out on § 207-a or § 207-c are - prior to the age of 62 - switching to a different retirement plan with a mandatory retirement age of 70.

The Cost: Where this occurs, a disabled firefighter or police officer continues to receive municipal disability payments equal to the full amount of regular salary or wages for an additional eight years, and the municipality does not receive a credit from the Retirement System for the municipality's years of contributions to the previous and more expensive retirement plan.

The Solution: The appropriate statutes should be amended to prohibit these individuals from changing retirement plans once an on-the-job disability has been incurred.