Peltier v. Town of Avon
Claimants with heart and hypertension awards under Connecticut General Statutes §7-433c have been treated as qualifying for C.G.S. §31-284b continued health insurance coverage in the same manner as claimants within the ambit of Chapter 568. Jeff Peltier, a town of Avon police officer, filed a timely claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission under C.G.S. §7-433c for hypertension. A voluntary agreement was approved. He did not miss work due to hypertension and voluntarily retired on Jan. 1, 2010, for nonmedical reasons. Thereafter, Peltier's physician assigned a 22 percent combined permanent partial disability rating due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease and arrhythmia. The parties stipulated to benefits under C.G.S. §31-308(b), subject to the cap in C.G.S. §7-433b(b), based upon a 14 percent permanent partial disability rating with a maximum medical improvement date of Aug. 19, 2010. Peltier then sought benefits under C.G.S. §31-248b, claiming he should receive the same health and dental benefits received prior to retirement for a 72.98 week period as a result of the permanent partial disability award under C.G.S. §31-308(b). The town disagreed and appealed from the commissioner's conclusion that the town was responsible for 95 percent of the premium for the family medical benefits plan during the 72.8 week period commencing Aug. 9, 2010 pursuant to C.G.S. §31-284b and 100 percent of the dental insurance benefits. The respondent argued based on the text of the statute that its purpose was to maintain insurance coverage for employees who were incapable of working and the claimant was never medically prevented from working due to his hypertension. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the finding and award. The trial commissioner's ruling was consistent with precedent on the statute. The Appellate Court promulgated a "bright-line rule" wherein entitlement to C.G.S. §31-284b benefits is dependent on whether a claimant is receiving indemnity befits. C.G.S. §7-433c awards have been treated as qualifying for C.G.S. §31-284b coverage in the same manner as claimants within the ambit of Chapter 568. Precedent on point states that a claimant is entitled to the maintenance of the insurance coverage received at the time of injury until any indemnity award for permanent partial disability is exhausted. The trial commissioner ordered this relief.