Employer’s Claim for Reimbursement from the Special Disability Fund for Death Benefits Paid Re: an Employee Who Died from Dust Disease Time-Barred—Even Though the Injury to the Employee Predated the Last Date for Such Claims, the Death Occurred After the Statutory Cut-Off Date
The Third Department determined the employer’s claim for reimbursement for death benefits paid on behalf of an employee who died from dust disease was time-barred. Pursuant to Workers’ Compensation Law 15, new claims for reimbursement from the Special Disability Fund can not be made after July 1, 2010. Even though the injury to the employee predated 2010, his death in 2011 required the filing of a “new” claim re: the death benefits (which cannot accrue until death):
Where, as here, an employee is disabled due to a dust disease, Workers’ Compensation Law § 15 (8) (ee) provides that an “employer . . . or carrier shall . . . be reimbursed from the special disability fund . . . for all compensation and medical benefits subsequent to those payable for the first . . .  weeks of disability for claims where the date of accident or date of disablement occurred on or after August [1, 1994].” Likewise, if an employee has died due to a dust disease, the statute provides that an “employer or . . . carrier shall be reimbursed from the special disability fund . . . for all death benefits payable in excess of . . .  weeks for claims where the date of accident or date of disablement occurred on or after August [1, 1994]” (Workers’ Compensation Law § 15  [ee]). Such reimbursement is expressly subject to the limitations contained in Workers’ Compensation Law § 15 (8) (h) (2) (A), which “bars claims based upon dates of disablement or accident after July 1, 2007” … . That subdivision further expressly provides, as here dispositive, that “[n]o carrier or employer . . . may file a claim for reimbursement from the special disability fund after July [1, 2010] and no written submission or evidence in support of such a claim may be submitted after that date”… . Given the “clear and unambiguous” terms of the reimbursement limitations provision of section 15 (8) (h) (2) (A), this Court has given effect to the plain meaning of the language employed … by recognizing that the provision bars “all new claims after July 1, 2010” … .
We reject the employer’s argument that its claimed entitlement to reimbursement from the Special Disability Fund is not a “new” claim, on the premise that it relates back to the original disablement in 1999 thereby establishing its right to reimbursement for a death occurring after July 1, 2010. In this regard, a claim for reimbursement for death benefits is “separate and distinct” from the original claim for reimbursement for disability benefits … . That is, “[t]he right to death benefits does not accrue prior to death” and death, while not a new injury or accident, results in a “new claim” for purposes of death benefits reimbursement… . Matter of Connolly v Consolidated Edison, 2015 NY Slip Op 00673, 3rd Dept 1-29-14