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Claimant Forfeited Benefits By Double Dipping

Claimant Forfeited Benefits By Double Dipping

 State: NY


Claimant Forfeited Benefits By Double Dipping, Court Rules


A former bus driver cannot collect workers' compensation benefits after the New York City Transit Authority proved that he was earning $200 a week at a laundry business, a New York appellate court ruled.


Case: Cucinella v. New York City Transit Authority, No. 507450, 1/31/13, published.


Facts: Frank Cucinella, a bus driver for the New York City Transit Authority, was awarded workers' compensation benefits and permanent partial disability benefits in July 2002. 


Procedural History: During subsequent proceedings, the parties disputed Cucinella's assertion of reduced earnings. In March 2006, the self-insured employer argued that the claimant had violated Workers' Compensation Law 114-a, which prohibits "knowingly (making)  a false statement or representation as to a material fact for the purpose of obtaining such benefits." The employer suspected that Cucinella had underreported his income and raised questions about whether the claimant actually owned a cleaning business that was allegedly run by his wife.


A workers' compensation law judge determined that Cucinella violated Workers' Compensation Law 114-a, and ruled that the claimant had forfeited benefits for the period between January 2002 and January 2005. (The statute mandates the forfeiture of benefits.)


On appeal, the Workers' Compensation Board modified the judge's ruling so that Cucinella was barred from receiving future benefits. The claimant appealed.


Analysis: The 3rd Appellate Department of the New York Supreme Court determined that Cucinella had testified that he performed no work and received no income after leaving his job with the Transit Authority in 2002, aside from minimal income earned from an insurance adjusting/investigation business in 2002.


"However, following the submission of relevant tax returns and some of the requested records from the wife's cleaning business, claimant ultimately admitted, among other things, that, in fact, during the relevant time periods, he had been paid $200 per week by the business and was working 15 to 20 hours per week," the court wrote. "Given this inconsistent and contradictory proof and the Board's authority to resolve credibility issues, we find that substantial evidence supports the Board's ruling, including its finding of permanent disqualification. Therefore, we find no basis to disturb it."


Disposition: Affirmed.


Source: WorkCompCentral

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