The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, over a dissent, determined that substantial evidence supported the ruling by the Board of Trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (hereinafter the Board of Trustees) that petitioner-correction-officer’s disabling condition was not related to an altercation with an inmate. Therefore petitioner was not entitled to disability benefits. The dissent would have ordered a new hearing because of the possibility untrue information in the record (i.e., that petitioner altered an MRI report) affected the ruling:
Ordinarily, the decision of the board of trustees as to the cause of an officer’s disability will not be disturbed unless its factual findings are not supported by substantial evidence or its final determination and ruling is arbitrary and capricious” … . Substantial evidence has been construed in disability cases, as requiring some credible evidence … . Credible evidence has been described as evidence that proceeds from a credible source, which reasonably tends to support the proposition for which it is offered … . * * *
Contrary to the petitioner’s contention and the position of our dissenting colleague, the record does not demonstrate that the Board of Trustees was misled by reports prepared by the Medical Board that contained a statement that the petitioner altered an MRI report or by statements that he returned to “full duty” after the incident and continued to work for “several years.” With regard to the MRI report, … the Chair of the Medical Board informed the Board of Trustees that the discrepancy between the MRI reports submitted on two different days was resolved by the inspector general’s office and that the addendum was written by a doctor. With regard to the issue of whether the petitioner returned to full duty and continued to work for several years, when he worked for approximately one year and seven months after the incident, the petitioner had multiple opportunities to testify and to present evidence of these facts, which the Board of Trustees considered. Matter of Singleton v New York City Employees’ Retirement Sys., 2022 NY Slip Op 05089, Second Dept 8-31-22
Practice Point: In the context of a Retirement and Social Security Law disability-benefits hearing to determine whether a correction officer’s disabling condition was caused by an altercation with an inmate, the denial of disability benefits must be supported by “substantial evidence” which requires “some credible evidence,” meaning evidence from a “credible source.” Here the denial of benefits was upheld.