Monday, May 25, 2015

Newtown Officer Must Get Disability Benefits for PTSD

Many individuals who contact our office seeking the assistance from a long term disability lawyer, seem to be unaware that most disability plans have a limitation on payments for claimants who suffer from mental health conditions.  Unfortunately, they assume that disability benefits will continue to be paid until age 65 or 66, regardless of whether their disabling condition is caused by mental health or not.

As part of my practice, I must constantly remind clients and prospective clients that most group insurance policies only pay benefits for a period of 24 months if their inability to work was caused by a mental health condition.  It appears, that town officials in Newtown, Connecticut also overlooked the 24 month mental health limitation provision when they negotiated the collective bargaining agreement with the police union.  

As part of the police union contract, the town of Newtown agreed to provide members of the police department with disability benefits.  The union contract that was signed did not contain any limitation for the payment of benefits for mental health conditions.  However, when the town proceeded to purchase a group disability policy for the union members, they bought a "standard a group policy" that has a 24 month limitation for mental health.  As a result of the purchase of this type of insurance policy, the town has been left with the responsibility of paying from its own funds for any claims for disabling mental health conditions that last more than 24 months.  

This past Friday, the Connecticut State Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled that Newtown must pay a police officer who hasn't worked since 2012 due to PTSD that was caused by his involvement in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  The three member panel ruled that the town was contractually obliged to pay disability benefits under the union contract, without being subject to the two year limitations contained in the LTD insurance policy.  For a copy of the Arbitrator's decision click here.