Husband of late NYS employee still fighting 3 years later to change law that denied him her benefits
Kathy Hoard worked for 38 years at Rockland Psychiatric Center before she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
“She didn’t want to quit her job. When it happened, it happened quick,” said Michael Hoard.
Hoard’s husband, Michael, says his wife put in for retirement in 2019, well after the eligibility date for her to stop working and collect state benefits, when the 59-year-old realized she was too sick to go back.
Kathy died a week later.
“If you can’t last 15 days after you sign your paperwork, the state keeps your pension,” said Hoard.
Michael Hoard lived in Pine Bush with his wife but has since moved to Louisiana. He says the state denied him his wife’s monthly death benefits because of a waiting period for state workers that he says, even after all those years of service, his wife still fell short of by seven days.
“The law is really inhumane in situations like this,” said Sen. James Skoufis. “It’s really disgraceful that Mike and his family have to go through this additional suffering.”
Skoufis sponsored a bill to change the law in 2019 after Hoard asked him for help.
News 12 first interviewed the widower then as well.
Since then, nothing has changed, and Skoufis says the bill hasn’t gotten anywhere in Albany.
“This is not some gift. This is not some gratuity earned. This is something that is earned for their time working in the public sector,” said Skoufis. “It’s disgraceful that a state employee’s family is treated this way.”
Both Hoard and Skoufis say they won’t let the lack of progress deter them from continuing to advocate for a change in state law. The two met face to face for the first time during News 12’s interview by Zoom on Wednesday.
“Thank you, sir, for trying to keep this thing alive,” said Hoard. “It means the world to me.”
Skoufis replied, “I’ll keep at it and it’s really my privilege to try to see this across the finish line.”
Hoard says he will keep up the fight, just like his wife did until her passing.
“I’m doing the exact thing that she would’ve done if the roles were reversed and that’s a big reason I’m still doing it. I know she would’ve done this for me,” said Hoard.
News 12 reached out to the governor’s office for information about Hoard’s case and the bill but hasn’t heard back.