Cantrell Green are among very few attorneys in Southern California that specialize in obtaining disability retirement benefits for disabled CalPERS employees.
In this article or experienced CalPERS disability retirement attorneys answer some of our clients most Frequently Asked Questions about collecting CalPERS disability retirement benefits.
Dose my injury have to be job-related to collect CalPERS disability retirement benefits?
No to collect CalPERS disability retirement benefits the injury or illness that prevents you from being able to work does NOT need to be job related.
However, to collect Industrial Disability Retirement benefits, you must be prevented from working by a job-related illness or injury.
How long will I get CalPERS disability retirement benefits?
If you are approved for CalPERS disability or industrial disability retirement, you will receive a monthly retirement payment for the rest of your life or until you recover from your injury or illness.
Is there an age requirement to collect CalPERS disability retirement benefits?
No. Both CalPERS Disability Retirement and CalPERS Industrial Disability Retirement can be collected at any age. You do not have to be of retirement age.
However, there is a “vesting” requirement. (see next question)
Is there a number of years I must work before I can collect CalPERS disability retirement benefits?
Yes. This is called a “Vesting Requirement”. Generally, CalPERs employees must have at least five years of service credit to be eligible. And Second Tier CalPERS members must have 10 years. (see next question)
NOTE: some exceptions apply to these service requirements. If you are a CalPERS employee who does not meet these requirements and have become disabled, contact one of our experienced CalPERS disability retirement attorneys to see if you my qualify for an “exception”.
What is a CalPERS “Second Tier” employee?
The CalPERS “Second Tier” employee formula allows certain workers to make reduced employee contributions over the course of their employment.
This means that less is taken from a Second Tier employee’s check in contributions – but they also receive significantly reduced retirement pension benefits.
What is an “Enhanced” Industrial Disability Retirement Benefit?
Patrol members in Bargaining Unit 5 of the Department of California Highway Patrol, are the only CalPERS members currently eligible for an enhanced industrial disability retirement benefit.
You must have sustained a serious bodily injury as the result of a single event and must be unable to participate in substantial gainful employment.
Are CalPERS disability retirement benefits taxable?
CalPERS reports all non-industrial disability retirement as ordinary income, meaning that it is generally going to be subject to both Federal (IRS) and State (California) income Tax.
The only type of CalPERS retirement pension that is typically “tax exempt” is the industrial disability retirement allowance, which applies only to safety category employees, such as police and firefighters where the job itself requires risk to their personal safety.
However, sometimes there may be a tax-free portion based on the previously taxed contributions you may have made when you were working, since some contributions may have been deducted before taxes and some after taxes.
Taxation is always a complicated matter best left to the experts. Please contact a qualified tax advisor or one of our experienced CalPERS attorneys if you have questions about how Internal Revenue Service or California Franchise Tax Board taxes will affect your disability retirement benefits.
How long until I start getting my CalPERS disability retirement benefits?
After CalPERS receives your disability retirement application, they will send you an acknowledgment letter. Once they have received all of the required documentation and forms, they begin the review process to see whether the information is considered current and complete, and if a determination can be made. In many cases, CalPERS will request additional documentation and/or an independent medical examination.
Generally, disability or industrial disability retirement applications take three months or longer, after CalPERS has received all the requested information. Every time CalPERS decides they require additional information, the determination process is delayed.
Hiring a skilled and experienced CalPERS retirement disability attorney can help ensure that all of the necessary information and documentation is submitted, which can help expedite the application process considerably.
Once a CalPERS disability retirement application is approved, the employee is considered officially retired and they will begin receiving their monthly benefit payment from CalPERS within four to six weeks.
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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Our highly specialized disability retirement attorneys are committed to ensuring that every injured or disabled public employee obtains the disability retirement benefits he or she has earned.
We have successfully filed hundreds of disability retirement applications and appeals – obtaining millions of dollars in disability retirement benefits in our four decades of legal service.
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