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The Appellate Court of Connecticut ruled the state’s workers compensation commissioner wrongly denied comp benefits to a police chief on the erroneous belief that his retirement as a patrol officer before his elevation to chief constituted a break in his employment status and barred him from benefits.
The appeals court on Tuesday overturned a decision by the comp commissioner, which had been upheld by a review board, that determined Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. was ineligible to collect certain disability benefits in 2016 on the grounds that, although he began working as an officer in 1983, his hiring as chief in 2010 constituted a new hire date and voided his claim for benefits.
Mr. Gaudett asserted that his benefits claim should have been accepted because he was a regular member of the Bridgeport Police Department for decades, and that it should never have been concluded that there was a break in employment service that would have affected comp eligibility.
Both the comp commissioner and review board determined that Mr. Gaudett’s retirement from patrol and promotion to chief effectively created a new hire date, changing the eligibility for benefits entitlement.
The appeals court found that the comp commissioner erroneously concluded that Mr. Gaudett’s receiving pension benefits when he became police chief disqualified him from collecting other benefits.
There is nothing in state statute that supported the position that claimants are barred from collecting benefits due to pension status, the court ruled.
The appeals court remanded the case to the comp commissioner for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.