For the last eight years, a retired NYPD detective has been fighting for a full disability pension from the department stemming from a knee injury she suffered on the job and 9/11-related ailments.
According to the New York Daily News, 46-year-old Sara Salerno blew out her knee while working for the NYPD. Salerno also contracted respiratory problems and lupus while working at Ground Zero.
Even though Salerno got injured while working for the NYPD, the Police Pension Fund has repeatedly rejected her claims.
Salerno became upset about her injury claims being rejected after reading about Christopher DePaolis, another retired NYPD officer who blew out his knee while working for the department.
DePaolis received a full disability pension worth more than $82,000 a year in 2013. After receiving his disability pension, he moved to Florida, started running foot races, and got a job with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office making $52,000 a year.
“I was at a loss for words,” Salerno said about DePaolis. “We’ve all encountered these cops who seem to get away with murder, and the honest cops have to fight and fight. I was like, ‘Oh my God. Who did he know?’ ”
“He’s running races, and I get winded going up the stairs,” she said. “There’s something wrong about the whole thing. There needs to be something done about it.”
Police officers that receive full disability pensions get three-quarters of their final salary tax-free. Salerno has a regular disability pension that is half of her final salary but is taxed like a regular income.
Salerno receives $38,400 per year.
“This is a very troubling case,” her lawyer Jeffrey Goldberg said. “She’s really sick. She had to appear twice before the medical board, and she was approved twice. In my mind, she meets the standard.”
When Salerno first applied for her special pension in 2001, the NYPD Medical Board approved her application. The Police Pension Fund trustees denied her application because they felt that her bike crash was not an accident.
Salerno’s claim about contracting lupus while working at Ground Zero was also questioned because her name was not on the roll call records.
Salerno said her name was not on the roll call because she was on restricted duty. Her supervisors confirmed that she was at Ground Zero, but the city is still disputing that she was there.
According to Salerno’s lawyer, the case is scheduled for an appellate court hearing in February.