In this article the experienced Disability Retirement attorneys at Cantrell Green provide general answers to clients’ frequently asked questions about disability retirement.
Remember, this is general information only – and specifics will vary greatly depending upon the contractual terms that apply to your individual disability retirement system!
#1. What is Disability Retirement?
Disability retirement refers to benefits that are available through some employers or unions to employees who become permanently disabled and cannot perform their job duties due to illness of injury.
Not all employers or unions offer disability retirement benefits to their workers or members. And the terms and conditions of collecting disability retirement benefits will vary from employer to employer and union to union.
#2. Does my Injury or Illness have to be Work Related to Collect Disability Retirement?
Under most retirement systems your disability does not have to be work related to collect disability retirement. Many employees whom our attorneys have successfully helped collect disability retirement benefits were no longer able to work due to cancer, heart disease and other non-work-related conditions.
#3. Are there Different types of Disability Retirement?
Generally, there are two types of disability retirement: Service Disability Retirement and Industrial Disability Retirement.
Eligibility for “service disability retirement” is typically based on years of service – and the injury or illness does not need to be work-related in any way.
However, while “industrial disability retirement” eligibility usually has no age requirement and no “vesting” (years of service) requirement, the injury or illness must be job-related.
#4. Can I get Temporary Disability Retirement While I am Recovering?
No. An employee is only eligible for disability retirement if their physician submits medical documentation that their condition is expected to be permanent, or last longer than 12 months.
However, income-replacement benefits for a condition that is expected to be temporary may be obtained through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
#5. How Old do I Have to be to Collect Disability Retirement Benefits?
Age and years-of-service requirements will vary greatly from retirement system to retirement system. You will need to check with your plan administrator.
Most service disability retirement plans do not have an age requirement. But some may have a minimum age requirement of 50 years old.
The years of-service requirement – also called “vesting” – varies even more greatly. A few employers only require a year of service. However, service requirements of at least five years to a maximum of 10 years are much more common.
Many retirement systems also have certain ‘exceptions’ to the service credit requirement. Contact your plan administrator, union rep or an experienced disability retirement attorney to see if you qualify. And, as previously stated, Industrial Service Disability (for work-related disability) typically has neither an age requirement or a years of service requirement.
#6. How Long will I get Disability Retirement Benefits?
If your disability retirement is approved by your retirement system, you will receive a monthly retirement payment for the rest of your life. However, in the even the condition turns out not to be permanent and you recover from your injury or illness, you will no longer be eligible to receive RD benefits.
Note that under some systems your Disability Retirement or Industrial Disability Retirement may be converted to a regular retirement benefit once you reach full retirement age.
#7. Can I get Disability Retirement Benefits for a Mental Disability?
Yes, under most systems you may apply for disability retirement if you are mentally, psychologically or physically disabled to an extent that prevents you from the performance of your duty, and your disability is probably permanent.
#8. When Should I Apply for Disability Retirement Benefits?
The retirement system member should immediately apply for disability retirement, or as soon as possible, once they are unable to perform the usual duties of their position, due to a physical or mental condition, if their condition is expected to be permanent or last longer than 12 months.
A job duty statement or job description must be provided to the member by their employer that reflect the member’s last position, job position title, and description of the actual job duties.
A “Physician’s Report on Disability Form” (PDF) must then be completed by the treating doctor or medical specialist for the member’s disabling condition(s) and submitted along with copies of the member’s treatment records.
Disability Retirement Attorneys | Los Angeles
Remember, the information in this article is for general purposes only – and may or may not apply to your retirement system. For more information on your individual disability retirement system, click one of the plans below. Or talk to one of our experienced disability retirement attorneys at Cantrell Green.
We have filed hundreds of successful disability retirement applications and appeals – obtaining millions of dollars in benefits for our clients. If you are an injured Teacher, Police Officer, Firefighter, or other Public Employee and you would like to apply for disability retirement – or appeal a disability retirement denial – our attorneys are here to help you.
Consultation with a Disability Retirement Attorney: 562-622-4800
This article is general in nature only and does not reflect the rules, laws or regulations governing individual retirement systems. 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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