NEW YORK — While still deeply grieving, the widow of a decorated city firefighter says she’s now caught in a fight with the pension board.
. From the family’s home in Long Beach, his wife told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner on Monday they are being denied the full funds they deserve for his years of service.
“Casey was my best friend, the love of my life. He did everything for us. For 19 years we were with each other,” Angela Skudin said.
And she says for 16 and a half years he did everything for the FDNY, serving on the Surf Rescue Unit, mentoring new recruits, and outside of firefighting he worked additional hours as a lifeguard on Long Island. Before joining the FDNY, she says he was a teacher.
“I’m not going to let his hours go wasted,” Angela Skudin said.
She says the pension board won’t give her his full pension because he did not have 20 years in the FDNY, but she says the FDNY allows its members to add time racked up from other government jobs in the state and that would bring him to the 20 years required.
“He had accrued buyback hours that were accepted by the FDNY that would have been then applied on the back end, but there’s nothing that happens to these hours if you die,” Angela Skudin said.
Casey Skudin was killed in June during a family vacation. As the family drove up the driveway of the famed Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina,. Their 11-year-old son suffered major injuries and Angela Skudin and their 20-year-old escaped through a shattered window.
The FDNY referred CBS2 to the mayor’s office, which said, “Our thoughts are with Ms. Skudin and all of Firefighter Skudin’s friends and family. The city and the New York City Fire Pension Fund are working to assist Ms. Skudin in any way possible to secure the benefits she is eligible to receive under state law.”
Per state law, Rozner was told state lifeguard service does not count.
Angela Skudin reached out to state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who introduced a bill last week to ensure the family gets his full pension. He resigned last week, but the legislation can still move forward.
“My husband was the primary breadwinner for our family, and he was the one with all the benefits. The reason he took the job with the FDNY was literally for the pension. I’m going to fight for this,” Angela Skudin said.
She says her family is in a holding pattern until the Legislature reconvenes next year, but she does want to work with the union to write new legislation so that families in the future won’t have this problem.
If Angela Skudin chooses to take what the pension board is offering her, she will receive around three years of her husband’s annual pay and one year of health coverage.
Separate from the pension issue, the family is suing the Biltmore Estate, where her husband died.