This bill will correct an injustice when a NYS Employee became totally and permanently disabled, but was denied Disability Retirement benefits because the the NYS and Local Employees Retirement System believed that the employee was disabled, but they did not believe that the disability was permanent. They were wrong. This individual has been totally and continuously disabled for the past 23 years.
I worked in the NYSLRS about 17.5 years. I earned the following: B.A., B.S., and M.S., “An Outstanding Young Woman of America” award, and an “Outstanding” evaluation from my NYS employer, shortly before I became disabled.
I was dedicated to the children and taxpayers of NYS, so while working full-time for NYS, I earned the additional degree that was required for a promotion at work. I finished “number 1” on the state-wide eligibility list for the promotion. After all my hard work, it was only 4 months later that my disabling condition began. You can imagine how disappointed I was.
In April 1990, I got what seemed to be the flu. After that date, I began to develop numerous symptoms throughout my body. 1990 included 5 Emergency Room visits, a 2-week hospitalization in October, and then in December 1990---total disability that lasts until this day. I continued to believe that I would get better, so I delayed applying for disability retirement from the NYSLRS until I had to apply (within the time limits).
I applied for a disability retirement from the NYS Local Employees Retirement System (NYSLRS). They said that they believed that I was disabled, but that my disability probably was not permanent. They were wrong! I have been continuously disabled since before I applied and I still am. I also applied for Social Security Disability and they concluded from the same medical evidence that I was totally and permanently disabled. They were correct. I have been unjustly denied my disability retirement from the NYSLRS. I have qualified for the benefit, according to their requirements.
Around 1992, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I was bed-ridden, most of the time, from 1991-95. Then, I spent the next 4 years in a wheelchair. Later, I could walk with a walker. Now, 23 years later, I often need to use a walker or cane. I still spend 2-4 days a week bed-ridden. When I am not bed-ridden, I function at about 20% of normal capacity. On these good days, I look healthy, but I am not.
In June 2011, I was re-diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease (MITO). My doctor, who is an expert on Mito, stated that Mito is the reason that I have had lifetime health problems. He said that CFS is the syndrome of SYMPTOMS of Mito. Mito was virtually unknown in the early 1990’s. It is only in the last 10 years that Mito is beginning to be diagnosed in patients. In 90% of the cases, it is a genetic, cellular disease.
My illness took a toll on my marriage and led to its demise. So, while being totally disabled and denied my NYSLRS disability benefits, I raised my 2 daughters by myself.
The NYSLRS disability benefits that were denied me total about
one 6-millionth of 1%
of the NYS Retirement Fund.
It will be no burden on the taxpayers, the money has been in the Fund since before 1992 and NYS has been collecting the interest on it.
In 2011, my monthly medicine costs were $1,200 per month. My Medicare prescription drug plan has a “donut hole”. When I hit it, I could not afford my medicines. Without my medicines, I became totally bed-ridden again.
I live in fear that I will hit the “donut hole” again.
So, the Lois Reid bills in the NYS Senate and Assembly are very important to me. I would use the money to help pay for my medical expenses.