In Massachusetts, public employees who are unable to work due to injuries sustained on the job can often recover accidental disability retirement benefits. As with workers’ compensation claims, however, they must demonstrate they sustained a personal injury during the performance of work duties in order to be eligible for such benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court assessed whether a heart attack suffered an hour after a claimant was advised her job was being eliminated constituted a compensable injury, ultimately concluding that it did. If you suffered harm while working, you should meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to examine what benefits you may be owed.
The Facts of the Case
The claimant had worked as an administrative assistant in the Department of Public Works since 1975, and her responsibilities included various clerical tasks. On March 22, 2000, her supervisor informed her that her job would be eliminated effective July 1, 2000. She became distressed and left work early that day. A short while later, she experienced chest pain and was diagnosed with an acute myocardial infarction. She did not return to work and subsequently applied for accidental disability retirement benefits.
Multiple administrative and judicial proceedings followed, including evaluations by a medical panel and decisions by the Retirement Board of Salem and the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC). Ultimately, CRAB determined that the claimant’s heart attack was caused by the emotional stress of her job loss discussion and that she was disabled due to physical causes, making her eligible for retirement benefits. The Board appealed the determination. Continue reading →