An Accidental Disability Pension for Leukemia?
I appreciate firefighters for the job they do. I have friends who are firefighters on various departments around the state and I try to ask them lots of questions to better understand their job. I can also appreciate the fact that it is a job that can lead to permanent disability through injuries sustained on the job. I could even buy that the job can lead to certain types of cancer, lung cancer not the least of which. However, I do wonder about leukemia as a result of being on the job. Former Providence Fire Chief George Farrell was awarded a full tax-free disability pension by the Providence Pension Board as a result of his leukemia.
The vote to award the tax-free pension was 5-4, as the board debated their own rules.
The city Law Department opined that in order for Farrell to receive an accidental-disability pension, three physicians must agree that the leukemia, which at last word was in remission, renders him totally and permanently disabled from doing the job of fire chief. One of the three physicians who examined Farrell said he could return to work on medication.
I don’t understand what’s not clear about “three physicians must agree”. One disagreed, so isn’t that enough to disqualify the claim? The article doesn’t explicitly state it, but based on a comment from one pension board member, it would appear that the board’s lawyer also believes the doctors must be unanimous.
“We totally disregarded our attorney,” Hull complained.
The other part that is curious to me is just in the title of this pension, it is an “accidental disability pension”. That says to me that the claim must be based on some accidental event. I don’t know that leukemia is caused by such a thing. This type of pension should be awarded when the injury is a direct result of being on the job.
As a side note, the chief was already receiving a standard pension and filed a claim for the accidental disability pension, possibly in part because it comes with a better health care plan. That is an understandable desire for someone with cancer, and I do hope Mr. Farrell makes a full recovery from the disease.