The amount he’ll be paid hasn’t been determined yet, but Ottawa fire fighter Ken Cusick is supposed to get a disability pension. The Ottawa Fire Fighters Pension Board ruled so after an hour-long hearing and a half-hour in closed session deliberations Thursday afternoon.
The lawyers on each side disagreed on whether Cusick really has post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his job. Christopher Minelli made the case for Cusick, whose claim says the deaths of two children in a fire, a teenager’s death in a traffic crash, and a serious injury a little girl suffered in a lawn mower accident traumatized him.
For the city, Megan Cantlin argued that Cusick’s troubles come from alcohol abuse and the stress of being charged with murdering his wife. Tracy Cusick died in 2006. Ken took time off then, but returned to work and kept working during the next decade while Tracy’s family and friends kept up the pressure to charge someone with killing her. They pointed fingers at him. Ken Cusick took leave from work in late 2016 around the time State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly was elected after promising to reopen the case. Charges, which are still pending, came in 2017.
The pension the board approved is for problems that happened off-duty. So Cusick will get 50% of his pensionable pay, it’ll all be taxable, and it’ll come with no health care benefits. Just how much that pay will be is to be determined later. Had he qualified for duty-related disability, his pension would be 65%, come with health insurance benefits, and have some tax reducing breaks too.
Cusick wasn’t at Thursday’s hearing, however, his mother testified about taking him to various doctors over the years. Minelli and Cantlin declined comment afterward.