If a SERS member becomes disabled and is unable to perform the duties of their position while actively employed, they may receive disability benefits which partially replace their working income.
If you become ill or injured from causes not work-related, you would be eligible for
nonoccupational disability benefits if:
- You have at least 18 months of
credited service with SERS, Teachers' Retirement System, or the State Universities Retirement Systems.
- You have used all your accumulated
- You are granted a
medical leave of absence.
- Benefits start 31 days after your absence from work, or the day after you were last paid, whichever occurs last.
- You must have a medical report submitted to our office by a licensed healthcare professional.
- SERS must find you to be disabled from performing your assigned job duties.
Applying for Benefits
You must apply in order to receive benefits. It is important to file an application for a disability benefit with SERS when it appears your disability will continue beyond 30 days after your removal from the payroll. The application process requires you to obtain a medical report from a licensed healthcare professional certifying you are unable to perform in your position. You must also sign a release form giving SERS access to your medical records. If you contribute to Social Security, SERS takes the amount of your Social Security benefit into account when determining your disability payment. A SERS representative will assist you with the Social Security application process.
All benefit claims and appeals are reviewed by the SERS Executive Committee of the
Board of Trustees. If your claim is denied, or you question the payment of any benefit, you or your representative may file a written appeal or request a hearing before the Executive Committee.
When Payments Begin & End
Once SERS determines your eligibility,
benefits begin on the latest of:
Nonoccupational disability benefits are payable for one-half of credited service not earned while on disability, until death, or one of the following events occurs:
- The 31st day of absence from work because of disability (including periods when sick pay was received).
- The last day you received wages (including periods when sick pay was received).
- If your application is not received within 30 days from the determined medical onset of your disability, your benefit will begin on the date the application is received.
- Your disability ends.
- You resume employment.
- Your disability payments have been made for a period of time equal to 1/2 of your earned service credit.
- You reach age 65 - if your benefit began at age 60 or older, benefits are payable for up to five years.
If your disability ends and you become disabled from the same cause within 60 days after you resume state employment, the 30 day waiting period is waived. The benefit amount for the second period of disability is the same as the first.
Your disability benefit equals 50% of your final average compensation on the date you were removed from the payroll. If you pay into Social Security and are approved for Social Security disability, your SERS benefit will be reduced by the amount payable from Social Security. If you have reached full retirement age, your SERS benefit will be reduced by the amount of pension you’re eligible to receive from Social Security. Any SERS disability benefits received during the same time as a retroactive Social Security payment will result in an overpayment. You are required to repay SERS the overage amount.
Termination of Disability
If your benefit is terminated because you received disability benefits for one-half of your credited service, and you are still disabled, you become eligible for a retirement pension provided:
- You are age 67 and have at least ten years of credited service.
- You are between ages 62-67 and have at least 10 years of credited service, a reduction applies.
Each nonoccupational disability benefit paid by SERS is increased 7% on January 1 after four years of being granted this benefit. On each January 1, following the date of the 7% increase, there is a 3% benefit increase in the net benefit.
While you receive disability benefits, your SERS account will continue to be credited with service and contributions as if you were working.