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Summary of Iowa Military and Veterans Benefits: Iowa offers special benefits for its military Service members and Veterans including Veterans employment assistance, War Orphans Tuition Assistance, special vehicle plates, as well as hunting and fishing benefits. Eligibility for some benefits may depend on residency, military component and Veteran disability status.
Department of Veterans Affairs, who specialize in federal VA benefits, as well as state benefits. They advise veterans and family members of veterans concerning federal VA benefits they may be entitled to receive. These include pension, disability compensation, and other ancillary benefits. Benefit specialists can also represent claimants with federal claims and review all correspondence pursuant to those claims to determine if an award action or denial was correct.
Alice E. The City of Carroll seeks review by certiorari of a decision by the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System granting former police officer David Disburg accidental disability benefits. The district court denied the writ.
We affirm. Disburg began working as a police officer for the city of Carroll in He was plagued by a history of medical problems, including a heart condition that resulted in heart attacks in and After each heart attack, doctors released Disburg to return to work without restrictions.
Disburg suffered a stroke in He subsequently applied for accidental disability benefits with the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System. As a police officer for the city, Disburg was a member of the retirement system. He was referred to the system's medical board for examination. The medical board concluded Disburg was totally incapacitated from performing his duties as a police officer.
However, upon further written questions by the system, the medical board confirmed the stroke was the cause of the disability and Disburg's stroke was not caused by his heart condition.
The system subsequently approved Disburg's application for accidental disability benefits. The City appealed, claiming Disburg should only have been awarded ordinary disability benefits since he was incapacitated for duty as a result of the stroke, not his heart disease. A hearing was held before the disability appeals committee. Following the hearing, the appeals committee, on its own initiative, sought additional evidence from one of the medical board doctors, David Schwartz.
The committee requested Dr. Schwartz to give a written opinion considering whether Disburg would also be incapacitated for duty as a police officer due to his heart condition. Schwartz responded Disburg's two heart attacks would be grounds for disability. The committee then reconvened the hearing to give the City an opportunity to examine Dr. Schwartz acknowledged the stroke disabled Disburg from working Retired Iowa City disabled a police officer, but also confirmed his written opinion that Disburg was further unable to perform his duties because his heart disease placed him at very high risk of another heart attack when engaged in the strenuous physical activities of a police officer.
The appeals committee entered a decision recommending Disburg be granted accidental disability pension, which the Board of Trustees adopted. The City filed a writ of certiorari with the district court, claiming the decision was illegal and not supported by substantial evidence. The City argues on appeal the award of accidental disability benefits was not supported by substantial evidence and was based on an erroneous legal standard. It also contends the appeals committee exceeded its authority by seeking additional evidence after Retired Iowa City disabled hearing was concluded.
There are no statutory provisions for appeals from decisions by the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System. See Iowa Code ch. A party who desires to challenge a decision by the board, however, may seek judicial review by filing a petition for writ of certiorari. City of Cedar Rapids v. System, N. Our review in certiorari actions is limited.
We consider whether the board acted within its statutory authority or whether substantial evidence supports its decision. Evidence is substantial when a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to reach the findings, even though the evidence would support contrary inferences. It is not our function to pass on the wisdom or soundness of the board's discretion. Butler v.
Carroll v. mun. fire & police retire.
Pension Bd. The statutory retirement system provided for police officers includes "ordinary" and "accidental" disability benefits. These benefits are awarded when a member becomes mentally or physically incapacitated for further performance of duty, the incapacity is likely to be permanent, and the member should be retired.
Thus, two conditions must be shown to qualify for an accidental disability retirement.
First, the applicant must suffer from an injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place. Second, the applicant must be totally and permanently incapacitated for duty as a natural and proximate result of the injury or disease. Reisner v. A "disease" under the statute is limited to the heart, lungs, or respiratory tract. Thus, accidental disability benefits may be awarded only if the disease involves the heart, lungs or respiratory tract.
Cedar Rapids, N. Once this definition is met, however, the statute ps the disease was incurred in or aggravated by the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place. Reisner, N. The City challenges the award of accidental disability benefits to Disburg on two related grounds.
First, it argues the statute does not permit an award based on the risk of developing a disease that will totally and permanently incapacitate an individual in the future. Secondly, it asserts the award was not supported by substantial evidence since Disburg performed all the duties of his job notwithstanding his underlying heart problems. We acknowledge the risk of developing a heart disease or injury at some time in the future does not necessarily support an award of an accidental disability pension.
See Benson v. Fort Dodge Police Pension Bd. In this case, however, ample evidence exists to support a finding Disburg actually suffered from a heart disease. He suffered two heart attacks during the last seven years of his employment, and medical evidence confirmed he had a diseased heart. Thus, the issue was not whether Disburg was at risk for developing a heart disease, but whether he was totally and permanently incapacitated from Retired Iowa City disabled as a police officer as a proximate cause of his existing heart disease.
Once an officer has suffered a work-related disease or injury we believe the system may properly consider any risks associated with the disease or injury in further evaluating whether it renders the officer totally and permanently incapacitated from performing his or her duties. See Cloud v. Moreover, an officer with a heart disease should not be precluded from showing a total and permanent incapacity for duty simply Retired Iowa City disabled no evidence indicates he or she has been unable to perform the required duties. If the duties can be performed, but only at a recognized and substantial risk to the health of the officer, it may be reasonable to conclude the officer has become totally and permanently incapacitated for duty.
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The City further argues permitting an award of accidental benefits based on potential risks without evidence of an inability to perform the required duties Retired Iowa City disabled the job creates an unworkable standard. We disagree. The standard is not altered, but accommodates a consideration of the particular facts.
An applicant for benefits must still show he or she is totally and permanently incapacitated for duty as a natural and proximate cause of a work-related heart disease. However, the incapacity for duty may be supported not only by evidence of actual physical inability to perform the duties, but by evidence of the potential medical risks involved in the performance of those duties, due to the presence of the disease. Without considering the potential risks, an applicant for benefits would be required to fall victim to the disease or injury in the performance of some duty before accidental benefits would be available.
This would create an unworkable, inequitable standard.
We conclude the appeals committee did not apply an erroneous legal standard. We acknowledge Disburg's own physicians released him to return to work, without restrictions, after his second heart attack in We also observe the City presented uncontradicted testimony Disburg performed all the essential duties of the job prior to suffering the stroke in Even Dr.
Schwartz confirmed the stroke suffered by Disburg in disabled him from his job as a police officer. On the other hand, Dr. Schwartz opined Disburg was also unable to perform his duties as a police officer because his coronary artery disease placed him at very high risk of another heart Retired Iowa City disabled when placed under full physical stress. In particular, the doctor believed Disburg was unable to safely respond to emergency situations involving strenuous physical activity.
Schwartz did not believe Disburg should have been released to return to work following his heart attacks. It is unnecessary for a police officer to show he or she is disabled from all activities before establishing a total and permanent incapacity for duty. Butler, Iowa atN. A heart condition may disable a police officer. Retired Iowa City disabled, substantial evidence may exist to support a decision by the pension board to award benefits even though most of the examining doctors rendered a contrary opinion.
See Terranova v.
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Schwartz was a member of the retirement system's medical board, and was qualified to assess the ability of police officers to perform their duties. Nothing suggests the board could not rely on his testimony as the foundation for its decision. See Schmitz v. Iowa Dept. Mindful of our standard of review, we find substantial evidence to support the decision of the board. Even though the evidence would have Retired Iowa City disabled a contrary conclusion, we cannot say reasonable minds could not reach the same findings as the board.
We find no error in the district court's denial of the City's writ of certiorari. The City finally asserts the committee exceeded its authority when it sought additional evidence after the hearing. It claims there is no statutory or administrative authorization for the committee to reopen the evidence.