Columbus, OH (January 2016) - Charles Zamora, a workers' compensation
attorney with a statewide practice representing police officers and firefighters
before the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (OP&F), explains an
emergency rule change that went into effect January 20, 2016.
Police officers and firefighters who are members of OP&F and who sustain
injuries or develop disabilities which prevent them from performing their
jobs may be eligible to receive a disability retirement. The rules controlling
the disability retirement process are set forth in the Ohio Administrative
OP&F made changes to these rules, giving itself broad discretion to
reject the opinions of its own medical advisors and vocational experts
in disability retirement appeals.
According to the new law, OAC 742-3-05(E)(1), the OP&F board is not
under "*** any obligation to adopt the recommendation of its medical
advisor or vocational expert if there is some evidence to support a contrary
finding." This is a power that was not previously set forth in the
Ohio Administrative Code.
In addition, OAC 742-3-05(E)(6)(c) specifically states that, following
the hearing on the member's appeal of the disability retirement application,
OP&F may "*** [d]eny the disability application;". When
read together, these changes appear to make it easier for OP&F to
deny an application for disability retirement.
An additional change to the Ohio Administrative Code requires that any
police officer or firefighter who files an appeal from OP&F's
initial decision concerning the application for disability retirement
must now present "new evidence not previously considered by the board
***." A failure of the member to submit new evidence will result
in the appeal being dismissed.
These changes in Ohio law may adversely impact the ability of police officers
and firefighters injured in the line of duty to receive the significant
benefit of a disability retirement.