Gov’t Disability Benefits: RICHARD V. KENTUCKY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS (COA 10/12/2007)

RICHARD V. KENTUCKY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS
EMPLOYMENT: GOVERNMENT DISABILITY RETIREMENT; SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE AND APPELLATE REVIEW

2006-CA-001719
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
PANEL: THOMPSON PRESIDING; WINE, HENRY CONCUR
COUNTY: FRANKLIN
DATE RENDERED: 10/12/2007

COA affirmed Franklin Circuit Court order affirming the decision of the Disability Appeals Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement System (Board) to deny Richard disability retirement benefits.

Richard retired from her position and applied for disability retirement benefits claiming she was unable to return to work due to constant pain and headaches as a result of a neck ailment stemming from a car accident in 1995. Her application was denied twice by the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ Medical Review Board, and she thereafter requested an administrative hearing.

After the closing of the administrative record, the hearing officer recommended that Richard’s claim be denied because she had not established by objective medical evidence the existence of a permanent mental or physical impairment which would prevent her from performing her job duties.  A reviewing court is not free to substitute its judgment for that of an agency on a factual issue unless the agency’s decision is arbitrary and capricious, and the agency’s decision must be upheld if it is supported by substantial evidence.

COA concluded that the Board’s decision to deny Richard’s disability claim was not clearly erroneous. Although Richard’s primary physician opined that she was unable to perform her job due to severe pain, other medical evidence in the record indicated that she was not mentally or physically incapacitated and thus not disabled.

Digested by Michael Stevens

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