Because Lieutenant Voluntarily Retired, He Loses Disability Claim For Collapsed-Chair Injury

Donald Balint was a corrections lieutenant at the Coxsackie, New York Correctional Facility. Balint sustained work-related injuries when a chair in which he was sitting collapsed. He performed his regular duties for well over a year following the accident, but felt that he could no longer do his work properly, retired and sought post-retirement benefits.

Before he retired, Balint filed a claim for duty-related disability arising out of his injuries. When New York’s Workers’ Compensation Board found that Balint’s voluntary retirement ended his disability claim, he appealed through the court system.

An appeals court affirmed the rejection of Balint’s claim. The Court observed that “Balint continued to work without restriction after his accident and missed minimal time from work aside from that required for medical appointments. He nevertheless successfully applied for service retirement benefits, leaving his separate application for performance of duty disability retirement benefits unresolved at the time of his retirement.

“Moreover, Balint conceded that the decision to retire was his alone and that he had not been medically advised to do so. Balint’s treating orthopedist indicated that he could work without restriction, and an orthopedic surgeon who conducted an independent medical examination of claimant opined that he remained capable of working as a correction lieutenant. It is notable that he found full-time employment elsewhere less than four months after retiring.

“Because Balint submitted no evidence to demonstrate that his disability played a role in his decision to accept a lower paying job after retiring and, as such, the Board properly declined to award him reduced earnings benefits.”

Balint v. Coxsackie Correctional Facility, 915 N.Y.S.2d 335 (N.Y. A.D. 3 Dept. 2010).