GOV’T DISABILITY RETIREMENT: LEDFORD v. KENTUCKY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS (COA 7/27/2007)

LEDFORD v. KENTUCKY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS
EMPLOYMENT: GOV’T RETIREMENT FOR DISABILITY
2006-CA-001808
PUBLISHED:  REVERSING & REMANDING
PANEL: WINE PRESIDING; COMBS, NICKELL CONCUR
COUNTY: FRANKFORT
DATE RENDERED: 7/27/2007

Ledford appeals her denial of government disability retirement benefits.  She claimed she was unable to return to work due to asthma and pulmonary problems. Her application was denied by the medical review panel three times and she subsequently requested an administrative hearing.  Ledford’s claim was denied because she was not functionally incapacitated from performing the duties of her position as accommodated by her employer. 

The hearing officer is not permitted to "cherry pick" the medical evidence.  Although the Social Security Disability determination can be considered it is not determinative of the state disability retirement determination since the state agency is not bound by that determination. 

On appeal, Ledford contended the evidence “overwhelmingly demonstrates that [she] met the requirements of the statute to be granted disability retirement benefits . . . .” The objective medical evidence in the record supports this conclusion. The hearing officer clearly erred by rejecting the objective medical evidence submitted by Ledford’s treating physicians in favor of the subjective and unsupported opinions of the medical review physicians.

COA further found that the hearing officer failed to consider the environmental factors in Ledford’s workplace in determining her residualfunctional capacity. Since the evidence which Ledford presented was so overwhelming that no reasonable person could have failed to be persuaded by it, the Board clearly erred by denying Ledford’s application.

The COA reversed and remanded for entry of an award of disability retirement benefits.

By Michael Stevens

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