GOV’T DISABILITY: METZINGER V. KENTUCKY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS (COA 3/9/2007)

METZINGER V. KENTUCKY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS
EMPLOYMENT:  Disability benefits, reimbursement, and workers compensation

2006-CA-000423

PUBLISHED: AFFIMRMING; KNOPF – SR. JUDGE
DATE RENDERED: 3/9/2007

COA affirmed Franklin Circuit Court decision affirming the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ decision to reduce claimant Metzinger’s monthly benefits and to require reimbursement for amounts overpaid.

Kentucky Retirement Systems awarded Metzinger disability retirement benefits, and a calculation of maximum disability was performed pursuant to KRS 61.607. Based on that calculation, Kentucky Retirement Systems determined that Metzinger had been overpaid $27,142.20 because of the annuity payments. The calculation also indicated that Metzinger’s current disability benefits should be lowered to $827.70. Metzinger appealed that determination.

Metzinger argued that the settlement payments should be characterized as sounding solely in tort, and as such, should not be considered as an offset to disability
benefits under KRS 61.607.

COA disagreed and was convinced that the ALJ’s explanation of the components of the settlement agreement confirms the trial court’s assessment that the “purpose of the
annuity was to replace, at least in part, his workers’ compensation.”

Reinforcing this conclusion are the facts that Metzinger retained his medical benefits under the award and waived his right to reopen the award. Metzinger simply chose to receive the annuity in lieu of his workers’ compensation payments. It is clear to us that the annuity is in reality a substitute for the benefits awarded or, in other words, represents a re-named workers’ compensation award.

COA agreed with the trial judge that to allow Metzinger to avoid application of KRS 61.607 by merely accepting an annuity in place of his award would afford him a benefit the legislature did not intend.

Digested by Michael Stevens

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