Accidental Disability Retirement Benefits for Firefighters in Massachusetts
If you're a firefighter in Massachusetts and you were hurt at work, you are eligible for a number of benefits, including 111F benefits, and potentially, if your injury is likely to prevent you from returning to your career, Accidental Disability Retirement benefits.
Working as a firefighter is routinely listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Whether you are injured on the fire-ground, are exposed to dangerous chemicals, or suffer an injury or are exposed to a hazard in a different way, these injuries can be severe and cause life-long conditions.
Because firefighting is also extremely physically demanding, all too often injuries that may seem minor can put a firefighter out of work for good. If you are not able to return to your duties due to your injury, and your limitation is expected to be permanent, you may be eligible for ADR benefits.
At the Law Office of Morgan J. Gray, P.C., we regularly represent firefighters from around the Commonwealth before local retirement boards. Accidental Disability Benefits are granted by local retirement boards. Dealing with the local boards can be tricky, as they all have different requirements and may be biased against certain workers for various reasons, from voting for an unsuccessful candidate for chief to personal disagreements. Having a lawyer on your side can be vital to ensure that the process is done right, the first time, and ensure you get benefits as quickly as possible. Although we are based in Quincy, Massachusetts, we have worked with firefighters from Western Massachusetts to Cape Cod, and are happy to meet with potential clients closer to their home if they are disabled and cannot get to our office.
Heart and Lung Bill
If you suffer from heart conditions, lung conditions, or certain cancers, there is a presumption in the law that your disability was caused by your work. This means that you will not need to prove your condition was work-related, as it is automatically linked to your work. See our page specifically about the Heart and Lung bill.
Whether due to lifting, wearing the extensive gear your job requires, or any of the other hundred tasks firefighters are expected to use their arms for, shoulder injuries are extremely common amongst firefighters. Unfortunately, even with shoulder surgery and physical therapy, these injuries frequently do not resolve 100%, and result in pain, limitation of movement, and reduced strength in the afflicted arm. Because the use of both arms is so vital to a firefighter's duties, a firefighter who suffers an injury to a shoulder and did not have a full recovery may have a claim for ADR benefits.
Even a minor back injury can render a firefighter totally disabled from their work. Several of the duties of a firefighter involve lifting the weight of a person. Particularly if your back injury is serious enough to warrant MRIs and especially surgery, it is likely that you are eligible for Disability Retirement for a back injury. Sometimes these injuries can come on suddenly, but they can also come on slowly, over time. Proving how you were injured is vital to receive ADR benefits, and so forming a plan with an attorney before you even file paperwork can make the difference between getting benefits right away and having to go through the drawn-out, formal appeals process.
Getting ADR for mental disabilities can be more challenging. However, a firefighter's work exposes them to traumatic scenes far beyond the scope of what a non-first-responder will ever encounter. If you have been exposed to violent or traumatic scenes, develop PTSD and are receiving treatment for it, but still have symptoms that interfere and prevent you from performing the functions of your position, you may be eligible for ADR benefits for PTSD, anxiety, or related conditions. It is important that you see a mental health specialist, and the type of specialist you see may be a significant bearing on how quickly your application can be processed. If you are looking to get ADR due to PTSD or related issues, then seeing an experienced attorney like Morgan J. Gray before you submit your application and Physician's Statement to your retirement board can resolve any potential problems before they've begun.