A former judge's attempt to qualify permanently for state health insurance coverage has been rejected by his former court.
Court of Claims Judge Alan Marin (See Profile) ruled in Holdman v. Office of Court Administration, 121182, that both benefits statutes and precedents prevent him from accepting Robert Holdman's petition to correct what amounts to the ministerial error by state officials who wrongly advised Holdman that he would become eligible for state health coverage after leaving the Judiciary.
Holdman, who was designated as an acting state Supreme Court justice in Westchester County while a Court of Claims judge from 2005 to 2011, said he timed the effective date of his resignation from state service, Sept. 30, 2011, with the understanding that he would continue paying premiums into his health plan with the state Health Insurance Plan (NYSHIP).
Holdman said his goal was to become vested in the plan at the end of 2014 upon having being in the system for 10 years.
Once he reached age 55, vesting in the plan offered the prospect of family coverage for $250 a month versus $1,600 a month for non-vested employees.
In fact, Holdman said, he was told by William Gilchrist of the judicial benefits office of the Office of Court Administration not to participate in his new employer's health plan but to continue paying premiums into the state plan. If there was an interruption in payments to the state plan, Gilchrist warned Holdman, he would not be permitted to rejoin it.
According to the ruling, Holdman, who is now 49, realized there was a problem in January 2012 when he was told by Gilchrist that the time Holdman had spent as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx from August 1991 to June 2005 would not count toward being vested in the health plan.
Since his judicial service of just over six years was well shy of the 10 years he needed for vesting in the NYSHIP plan, Gilchrist told Holdman he would not be eligible.
Had he known that, Holdman told the Court of Claims, he would have remained as a judge for three more years and nine months in order to reach the required 10 years.
Holdman was one of the more outspoken judges in the late 2000s and early 2010s as the Judiciary lobbied for its first pay raise since January 1999. In his resignation letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Holdman said the lack of judicial pay raises was the "sole" reason he was leaving for the private sector (NYLJ, Sept. 15, 2011).