A New York police officer who suffered heart problems and other medical issues was denied disability retirement benefits by a New York appeals panel.


The officer from Eastchester believed his heart problems were due to his work in law enforcement but the court disagreed with the officer, stating there was evidence he had ‘longstanding risk factors for heart disease’. Former officer Thomas Ashley was also have found to have a pre-existing back condition that may have flared up an on-duty injury he received in the late 1990’s. The court ruled that the accidents were not compensable by workers compensation.


Ashley had submitted applications for disability retirement benefits in 2003 and subsequently retired the following year. He made a claim that the Retirement and Social Security Law entitled him to benefits for his heart disease and he deserved compensation for a back injury in 1998. The back injury he claimed occurred when exiting a police vehicle he slipped on leave and twisted around.


The New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System denied Ashley’s applications and a hearings officer upheld the initial decision. A cardiologist that examined Ashley testified the duties Ashley had as a police officer ‘played no role in his development of his heart disease’.


As for the back injury, the court determined the injuries Ashley sustained were not the result of exiting a police car and an orthopedic surgeon who examined the former officer before his retirement concluded his back issues were the result of ‘ongoing degenerative processes of aging’ and not the result of falling on the job. Further noted was that Ashley returned to week within a week of the accident without needed medical intervention and continued to work without major difficulties.