It may surprise you that under certain circumstances, you can get CalPERS disability retirement in addition to your workers compensation claim, should you become disabled as a result of a workplace injury. In this article, Cantrell Green attorneys point out the circumstances under which you may be able to collect both workers compensation benefits and CalPERS disability retirement at the same time.
Disability Retirement May Have Better Benefits than Workers Comp
Under CalPERS Disability Retirement, once your job-related disability is approved, you are eligible to receive a monthly retirement payment until your injury or illness has resolved; however, if the injury or illness prevents you from ever being able to resume your job duties, the benefit is available for the rest of your life. Workers compensation awards, on the other hand, rarely if ever provide lifetime disability payments.
How to Qualify for CalPERS Disability Retirement
California public sector employees who become ill or injured on the job may be eligible for disability retirement under CalPERS, if the injury or illness is severe enough to prevent you from ever resuming your former job responsibilities. To qualify for disability retirement, the length of your employment is considered, along with the vesting period. (This basically means that in order to be eligible for disability retirement, you must have completed a certain number of years on the job.) Under CalPERS, your disability retirement does not have to be work-related.
Workers Comp Claim May Strengthen CalPERS Disability Retirement Case
In the course of most, if not all workers compensation cases, medical opinions and evidence (such as MRIs or other diagnostic studies) are collected that can also be used to support your claim under CalPERS for non-service related retirement. If, for example, your workers compensation physician states that a particular disabling medical condition is not work-related, you can use that opinion as evidence to support your non-service related retirement claim under CalPERS.
Additionally, the workers compensation doctor might give an opinion on the severity of the disability from that non-work-related condition. His statements regarding either the severity of the disability or how that disability affects your ability to perform your usual and customary job duties may provide just the data needed by CALPERS to determine that you are indeed disabled.
CalPERS Disability Retirement Not Automatic After Workers Comp Win
CalPERS and the Workers Compensation Board have different rules and criteria by which they assess whether or not an injury or illness is job related, and whether or not the injury or illness leads to permanent disability. As stated above, the same medical evidence can be used for both workers compensation claims and claims under CalPERS for retirement disability. However, under the workers compensation system, the bar is relatively low – there only has to be a “reasonable medical probability” that the injury was a result of or in the course of employment. Additionally, under workers compensation, doctors don’t address whether or not there is permanent incapacity. Conversely, under CalPERS, a determination of the existence of, or lack of permanent incapacity is required by law.
CalPERs Disability Retirement Attorneys
Determining the interplay between CalPERS and workers compensation is exceptionally complex. It is very unwise to try to figure it out on your own or even with the help of a benefits administrator. The attorneys at Cantrell Green are experts in the law as it pertains to CalPERS and to workers compensation alike, and are very familiar with what benefits you may be eligible to receive from either or both agencies. Give our office a call to schedule a free consultation, and we will help you determine what your best options are to get the benefits to which you are entitled.
The disability lawyers at Cantrell Green are among the few attorneys who understand and specialize in both CalPERS disability benefits and workers comp. If you are unsure if qualify for CalPERs disability retirement benefits, call our experienced lawyers today. We would be happy to help you determine your eligibility for disability retirement under the CalPERs system – as well as assist you in pursuing any workers comp claim for which you may qualify.
This article applies to members of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS); and does not reflect the rules, laws or regulations governing how other public retirement systems are administered. If you have question about another public employee retirement system, find your system, below – or call our attorneys at: 562-622-4800
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