Prior to the COVID pandemic, State of Connecticut employees who sought a disability retirement, would appear personally before a Medical Examining Board for a hearing. The Medical Examining Board is composed of three physicians who decide whether the applicant is medically disabled. An in person appearance allowed the Board to observe the applicant and ask the applicant questions. The Board could ask the applicant’s attorney questions regarding the evidence or legal standards to be applied. The in-person hearing promoted a give and take atmosphere. The applicant’s attorney could check the medical records to ensure that everything that was submitted to the Retirement Services Division was given to the Board.
Once COVID started, everything went virtual. Many state hearings began to be held remotely. Most Connecticut hearings of all types have now gone back to in-person events. This has been welcome news. Not so, for the Medical Examining Board. Those hearings are still either remote or just paper reviews. The applicant or the applicant’s attorney are not allowed to be physically present in the same room as the Board. It’s time for this to change. Not having in-person hearings is detrimental to disabled workers. Unfair denials have increased.
Connecticut State employees can take action. Call and write your legislators and the State Comptroller and ask for a return to in-person Medical Examining Board hearings for disabled Connecticut State employees.