In light of the deaths of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were killed in the line of duty on Saturday, December 20 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz is calling on the New York City Council and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to pass a home rule message that would send legislation to Albany that would redress inequities in pension payouts when a police officer is disabled in the line of duty
“These two brave police officers sadly demonstrate the unequal treatment that men and women doing exactly the same job face,” Ortiz said. “They take the same risks but are not treated equally in death or injury. Had these men lived but been permanently disabled, Police Officer Ramos would have received about half in disability benefits because he was hired after the Tier 2 pension law was not renewed,” in 2009.
Liu served seven years on the force. Ramos, the father of two sons, was with the NYPD just under three years, which – had he lived but been unable to return to work – would have resulted in decreased benefits.
Instead of receiving a non-taxed pension equal to three-quarters of his final year’s salary, Ramos would have received a pension equal to half his final year’s salary.
That amount would have been further reduced to reflect any Social Security disability benefits Ramos would have received, thanks to the veto by then-Governor David Paterson, of legislation that previously had been passed biannually to make sure that police officers and firefighters in New York were not negatively impacted by reductions in pension benefits extended to other government employees. His rationale for so doing was the state’s straitened financial circumstances at the time.
Ortiz stated that the disparity in disability benefits should be eradicated. “New York City police officers hired after 2009 are not adequately compensated when permanently disabled in the line of duty,” he contended. “This is unconscionable. They are the only officers in New York State denied an adequate disability pension and that is wrong, immoral and unfair.
“The universal outpouring of caring and concern demonstrated by the public following the senseless murders of police officers Ramos and Liu underscores the belief that we all owe a moral debt to those who risk their lives to protect us,” Ortiz continued. “The police protect us. We should also protect them.”