Police officer work-related disability pension denied

A veteran police officer who ran a construction business does not qualify for a line-of-duty disability pension on the grounds that he did not prove his back condition was caused by a work incident, an appeals court in Illinois ruled Thursday.

Terry Olson, who had been a police officer for the Village of Lombard for 29 years, applied for a special disability pension given to officers who are disabled following an injury suffered in the line of duty, alleging that an injury suffered to his leg while chasing a suspect in 2013 aggravated his back condition, which he had previously sought treatment, according to documents in Terry Olson v. The Lombard Police Pension Fund and the Village of Lombard, filed in the Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, in Elgin, Illinois.

The police Retirement Board determined, “by a preponderance of the evidence,” that Ms. Olson, who also owned a company that performed excavation and demolition work and had experienced episodes of back pain three times over the course of several years, had suffered a disability to his lower back was “neither caused by, nor aggravated by, his on-duty activities” in a police chase in 2013, documents state.

“The Board concluded that the evidence established plaintiff had a preexisting history of lower back complaints and discomfort, but that these issues were neither caused nor exacerbated by the incident or any ‘act of duty,’ as necessary for establishing entitlement to ‘line-of-duty’ disability pension benefits,” documents states. He was, instead, awarded a standard pension.

On appeals, a trial court affirmed the Board’s decision, stating the evidence had been sufficient to prove that Ms. Olson’s disability was not tied to the one work-related event. The appeals court affirmed, writing: we hold that the Board’s finding that plaintiff did not meet his burden of establishing a causal connection between his preexisting condition and a specific act of duty was supported by the record and not against the manifest weight of the evidence.”

This article was first published by Business Insurance.

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