Schedule of Benefits

GENERAL LIMITATIONS

Legal Benefits under the plan are limited to $1,000 per calendar year per family. The calendar year runs from January 1 to December 31st.

Allowances are paid only to the extent of fees charged. The Fund will not absorb or be responsible for any fees or charges that are owed by a member beyond the allowances herein. Only matters specified in this booklet are covered by the plan.

There are two types of benefits: regular benefits and $50 deductible benefits.

 

ADOPTION

Who is Eligible

Member who seeks representation in an adoption proceeding.

What is the benefit

Legal advice and representation by an attorney in a formal adoption proceeding.

Benefit Allowance

Up to $500

Limitations

Benefit allowance does not cover the payment of any fees or expenses to adoption or other agencies.

 

ARRAIGNMENT SERVICE

Who is Eligible

Member or dependent, as defined by the Fund, who is a defendant in a criminal arraignment proceeding.

What is the Benefit

Representation in an arraignment proceeding requiring a personal appearance by legal counsel.

Benefit Allowance.

Up to $200

Limitations

Costs of legal representation beyond the arraignment stage are not covered. Thus, should a covered member or dependent desire to retain an attorney beyond the arraignment stage, such individual must make necessary fee arrangements directly with the attorney of his choice.

 

CHANGE OF NAME

Who is Eligible

Member

What is the Benefit

Legal advice and representation in a change of name procedure.

Benefit Allowance.

Up to $350 per family

Limitations

Limited to changes of name sought by member for self and dependents.

 

CONTRACTS

Who is Eligible

Member

What is the Benefit

Legal advice and representation in a change of name procedure.

Benefit Allowance.

Up to $350 per family

Limitations

Limited to changes of name sought by member for self and dependents.

Who is Eligible

Member or spouse/domestic partner who seeks to obtain legal services regarding a non-business contract.

What is the Benefit

Legal advice and/or representation in the preparation, execution of a personal, non-business contract.

Benefit Allowance

Up to $125

Limitations

Does not provide allowances for the preparation and execution, or review of business contracts.

 

DOMESTIC RELATIONS REPRESENTATION

Who is eligible

Member involved in a matrimonial matter requiring legal representation.

What is the benefit

Representation by an attorney in a separation, annulment, or divorce.

  • Uncontested matters are those resolved up to and including a pre-trial conference.
  • Contested matters are those not settled at the pretrial conference but settled prior to an actual court trial.
  • Litigated matters are those resolved only after a Supreme Court trial and include any referral to and representation at Family Court.

Benefit allowance

  • Uncontested Separation, Annulment or Divorce Up to $ 500
  • Contested Separation, Annulment or Divorce Up to $ 600
  • Litigated Separation, Annulment or Divorce U p to $ 700

Limitations

Domestic relations benefits limited to one per elapsed year.  Example: If a separation is completed by June 15, 2000, you would not be eligible for payment on a divorce action until after June 15th, 2001.

Allowances will be reduced if court awards payment of attorney’s fees or portions thereof. Combined payments may not exceed fees charged.

 

GENERAL CONSULTATION

Who is eligible

Member obtaining an in-person legal consultation with an attorney regarding an actual or assumed legal problem.

What is the benefit

Five, one-half hour sessions on separate dates, each calendar year, concerning unrelated legal questions.

Benefit Allowance

$35 per visit to an attorney’s office.

Limitations

Business matters, excluded matters and telephone consultations are not covered. When an attorney is retained to provide a specific service for which Benefit allowances are provided by the Fund, such attorney fees shall include the initial general consultation, as well as all other consultations.

 

PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY

Who is Eligible

Member or spouse/domestic partner filing for personal bankruptcy.

What is the Benefit

Representation by an attorney in a personal bankruptcy proceeding

Benefit Allowance

Up to $350

Limitations

Limited to one personal bankruptcy per family per calendar year.  Business bankruptcies are not covered.

 

PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE MORTGAGE PROTECTION

Who is eligible

Member or spouse/domestic partner who is a defendant in a proceeding to foreclose a mortgage regarding a dwelling, condominium or cooperative, which the covered member and/or spouse own and in which the member principally resides.

What is the benefit

Legal advice and/or representation in the defense of a mortgage foreclosure involving any of the above stated residences.

Benefit allowance

An allowance not to exceed $150 if the matter is resolved before trial. An allowance not to exceed $300 should the matter proceed to trial.

Limitations

One foreclosure proceeding per calendar year per family.

 

PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE REAL ESTATE CLOSING PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE REFINANCE

Who is eligible

Member who is selling, purchasing or refinancing their principal residential dwelling, condominium or cooperative.

What is the benefit

Legal representation for the sale, purchase or refinance of property as described above.

Benefit allowance

Up to $600 per calendar year per sale, purchase or refinance.

Limitations

Only one sale, and purchase or refinance per family in any year covered. Closings on building loans are considered part of the final closing that will result in the member taking up immediate residency. This benefit provides representation with respect to one’s personal residence (not to exceed a two family house). Business property is not covered by this benefit. Property situated outside of Suffolk County is NOT covered under this benefit. This benefit requires that your attorney be present at the actual closing. Fees paid to the attorney representing the lending institution are not covered. The member must physically reside in the home for which claim is being made.

 

TENANT

Who is Eligible

Member or spouse/domestic partner who rents, for personal residential use, a private dwelling, condominium, apartment or rooms as a tenant.  The member must principally reside in the dwelling being claimed.

What is the Benefit

Legal advice and/or representation for a defendant in defense of a dispute between the member or spouse as tenant and the landlord.

Benefit Allowance

Up to $300

Limitations

One Landlord/Tenant defense per year, per family

 

VETERAN AND SERVICEPERSON’S RIGHTS

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund, seeking remedial action in relation to a denial of their veteran’s rights by any military board or agency of the United States government.

What is the benefit

Legal services in:

  • a denial of veteran’s benefit or right
  • changes in type of military discharge
  • cases of court martial
  • connection with military boards convened for the purpose of imposing a penalty, an administrative discharge or a less than honorable discharge from military service.

Benefit allowance

  • Legal advice and counsel upon a denial of a veteran’s right for benefit Up to $ 125
  • Legal representation to effect changes in types of military discharges Up to $ 400
  • Legal representation in convened court-martial or military boards Up to $ 750

Limitations

Only the above stated matters that relate directly to member or dependent’s rights as a veteran are covered by the plan.

 

WILLS

Who is eligible

Member and spouse/domestic partner

What is the benefit

The preparation and execution of a Will.

Benefit allowance

$65

Limitations

Each member and spouse may utilize this benefit once every five years.

 

$ 50 DEDUCTIBLE BENEFITS

NOTE: Members, or dependents as defined by the Fund, are required to pay the first $ 50 of the fee for the following legal services in order to be eligible for these allowances.

 

TRAFFIC VIOLATION REPRESENTATION MISDEMEANOR

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund, who is charged with a traffic violation misdemeanor.

What is the benefit

Legal services are covered during the defense of alleged violations of the vehicle and traffic law before a court or administrative agency. The matter must be of a serious nature that may affect the status of the defendant’s driver’s license.

Benefit allowance

  • Without Trial Up to $ 225 after deductible
  • With Trial Up to $ 375 after deductible

Limitations

Member or dependent must be the driver of the vehicle charged with the alleged violation. Multiple allowances for violations received on the same date are payable only if trials are held on different dates.

TRAFFIC VIOLATION REPRESENTATION OTHER THAN MISDEMEANOR

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund, who has been charged with a traffic violation.

What is the benefit

Legal services are covered during the defense of an alleged traffic violation when the status of the alleged violator’s driver’s license is adversely and seriously effected and must be determined by administrative adjudication.

Benefit allowance

Up to $175 after deductible

Limitations

Member or dependent must be the driver of the vehicle. Multiple allowances for violations received on the same date are payable only if adjudicated on different dates.

AUTOMOBILE DEFENSE OVERAGE MATTERS

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund, who is a defendant in an action involving a vehicle.

What is the benefit

Legal services for the defense of an action involving operation of vehicle wherein damages or personal liability exceed face amount of insurance policy.

Benefit allowance

Up to $450 after deductible

Limitations

Overage cases only: That is a suit for damages that would exceed the face amount of the insurance policy. Legal representation provided by insurance companies is not reimbursable.

DEBT COLLECTION DEFENSE

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund, who is a defendant in a claim involving debt collection.

What is the benefit

Defense in a legal action started against the defendant involving their rights in resisting a claim before the District Courts and Supreme Court of the County of Suffolk.

Benefit allowance

  • Without trial, District Court Up to $ 300 after deductible
  • Without trial, Supreme Court Up to $ 400 after deductible
  • With trial, District Court Up to $ 450 after deductible
  • With trial, Supreme Court Up to $ 550 after deductible

Limitations

Only one debt collection allowance is permitted per calendar year.

LEGAL DEFENSE BENEFIT IN OTHER CIVIL MATTERS

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund, who is resisting a claim that does not fall within any of the specified benefits listed in this booklet.

What is the benefit

Defense in a civil legal proceeding in which the member or dependent is a named defendant in an action brought before a court or agency involving his or her rights.

Benefit allowance

  • Without Trial Up to $300 after deductible
  • With Trial Up to $550 after deductible

Limitations

Coverage is limited to cases brought before the following or similar bodies for adjudication:

Supreme, Surrogate’s and District Courts of Suffolk County; United States District Court for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York; United States Customs Court; Supreme, Surrogate’s and County Courts of New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, Bronx, Nassau, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester Counties; Civil Courts of New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond and Bronx Counties; District Court of Nassau County, Administrative Agencies and Bureaus.

Examples of this legal defense benefit would be costs of a lawsuit alleging breach of contract or a lawsuit concerning a garnishment or medical expense claims. Such problem maybe successfully resolved after consultation or it may require steps leading to actual representation and defense before an administrative agency.

Reminder: Matters involving businesses owned or operated by member or dependent are not covered.

 

CONTINGENT FEE MATTERS

PERSONAL INJURY (NEGLIGENCE) MATTER

Payment for this type of legal proceeding is customarily by contingent fee. Anyone who desires legal services in connection with the commencement of a claim for personal injuries suffered as a consequence of negligence can contact a law firm of their choice. However, the legal counsel who you choose has a right to judge whether the case is worthy of prosecution before acceptance of your retention.

A $35 consultation benefit is payable if the law firm you consult is not retained and charges you a consultation fee.

Contingent fee matters are those in which a recovery of monies is attempted through a legal action, with an agreement with your attorney that fees are charged only if the action is successful. Generally, the fee is stated as a percentage of the recovered amount. It is customary, whether the litigation is successful or not for you to reimburse your attorney for most costs incurred by his office. These costs include disbursements, charges and other expenses such as police and medical investigative reports, costs of serving subpoenas, witness fees, etc.

ESTATE SETTLEMENT

Who is eligible

Member, or dependent as defined by the Fund who is a named heir to an estate.

What is the benefit

Preliminary legal services in connection with the probate or settlement of an estate.

Limitations

Inasmuch as fees are generally set as a percentage of the estate no benefit allowance is payable other than a $35 consultation benefit.

The Benefit Fund provides benefits through allowances only as specifically stated and described herein. Legal Services that have not been so described are excluded from the plan.

As a guide to employees in their utilization of the Legal Benefit package, the following list specifies but does not limit the particular and general exclusions from the plan:

  • Any proceeding or dispute or controversy with or against the Suffolk County Municipal Employees Benefit Fund or Suffolk County Municipal Employees Legal Service Fund or their agents or officers;
  • Any proceeding or dispute or controversy with or against the employer or their agents or officers;
  • Any proceeding, dispute or controversy directed against the Association of Municipal Employees, or any of their officers, agents, or attorneys;
  • Any proceeding, dispute or controversy where there is a prohibition of the Legal Services Fund defraying the cost of such services by provision of law;
  • Any business matter wherein as an officer or shareholder, etc. a member or dependent is directly or indirectly involved;
  • Matters that concern payment of income tax including but not limited to, preparation or filing of income tax returns;
  • Any proceeding, action or controversy where legal fees are payable by virtue of statute or by order of the court;
  • Any proceeding, action or controversy wherein two or more parties pool or combine benefits for the purpose of ascertaining a claim for their mutual benefit, e.g. class actions;
  • Any amicus cariae activities;
  • No benefits or allowances will be paid for services or advice when it involves a duplication of the same service or advice that was previously obtained in connection with the same problem;
  • Any action, dispute, proceeding or controversy in which insurance will cover legal services or through which any government agency or attorney, such as Federal, State or Local, that provides legal services;
  • Any matter that incurred legal expenses that commenced before the employee became eligible to receive the benefit under this plan;
  • Any payment in excess of reasonable and customary fees in Suffolk County for the specific legal matter involved;
  • The Fund will not pay or reimburse members, spouses and/or dependents for court costs and/or filing fees, fines or penalties;
  • Any portion of legal expense for a legal matter that is jointly shared with a person not-covered by the Fund