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Agreement Protects Disability Pensions
State employee bargaining unit leaders voted unanimously to approve the MOU, which clarifies a long-standing practice between the parties regarding the application of the so-called "suitable and comparable" standard to review whether workers are entitled to their disability retirement.
Under state law, workers can go out on disability for up to 24 months if their condition is caused by their employment. After that, they are eligible for disability retirement if they are unable to perform "suitable and comparable" work.
In the view of union leaders like Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano, the state lately has tried to use an unreasonable interpretation of "suitable and comparable" to justify stripping workers of their disability pensions, particularly if they held any kind of job after leaving state service.
"For the last two years, the state had been threatening to throw people off retirement who have little means of defending themselves, often ignoring the circumstances that led workers to seek disability pensions in the first place," said Luciano, who sits on the State Retirement Commission.
"Many of these retirees are dealing with serious issues, from cancer to dementia to post-traumatic stress disorder," he added. "We weren't going to let workers lose benefits to they were entitled to receive."
Scroll down to Additional Resources for a copy of the MOU.
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