Nonoccupational Disability FAQs

FAQ Index

    Questings

    Do disability benefits come out of my retirement contributions?

    No. Disability benefits you receive do not come out of your retirement contributions. In fact, each month you receive a disability benefit, you also accumulate additional retirement contributions and service credit.

    Does my disability affect my pension benefit amount?

    During the period when an individual is receiving disability benefits, contributions and service credit are credited to the account of the benefit recipient. This will increase the pension benefit amount.

    Do I notify SERS if I need a disability application packet?

    It is your responsibility to notify SERS when you need an application packet. You can download our packets from the website or you can call SERS directly or your agency's Retirement Coordinator can help you with your request.

    Should I notify SERS when I return to work?

    Yes, it is your responsibility to notify SERS if you return to work. Failure to do so may lead to an overpayment of benefits.

    How long will it take to receive my first disability check?

    From the time you stop working, it can take up to eight weeks or longer for you to receive your first disability payment. SERS will also pay disability payments one month in arrears. It is important to return your application packet to SERS as soon as possible. No action can be taken on your claim until this information is received.

    Can I work and still receive a disability benefit from SERS?

    You cannot work for the State of Illinois and receive disability benefits from SERS. You can work outside of state employment and earn up to $3,660.00 in any calendar quarter without interfering with your disability benefit. This amount changes periodically and SERS will update you as changes occur. If you earn in excess of the earning limit, disability benefits will be interrupted and may also be terminated as well as creating an overpayment.

    What is the difference between occupational disability benefits and nonoccupational disability benefits?

    Occupational disability benefits are paid when you become disabled due to a work-related injury or illness. You must receive benefits under the Workers' Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act to be eligible for occupational disability benefits. Nonoccupational disability benefits are paid when your disability wasn't caused by your job duties.

    Once I begin receiving disability benefits, will I receive an increase in my benefits?

    Each nonoccupational disability benefit paid by SERS is increased 7% on January 1 after four years of being granted the benefit. On each January 1 following the date of the 7% increase, there is a 3% benefit increase.

    Example: You started receiving a disability benefit of $1,000 per month on July 15, 1999. This amount is reduced by $500.00 due to Worker's Compensation Benefits. A 7% increase of $70 would be applied January 1, 2014 (7% of the gross benefit). On January 1, 2015 you would receive an increase of $17.10 (3% of $570.00). Each year thereafter the 3% would be compounded to the net benefit.

    Why do I need a copy of my birth certificate to receive disability benefits?

    A copy of your birth certificate assures that we have the right date of birth. This information is used to help determine how long you may be eligible for disability benefits.

    How much will my nonoccupational disability benefit be?

    Nonoccupational disability benefits for Tier 1 members equals 50% of your final average compensation or salary, whichever is higher. Nonoccupational disability benefits for Tier 2 members equals 50% of your final average compensation.

    If I pay into Social Security and am over 66, is my SERS nonoccupational disability benefit reduced by the amount payable from Social Security.

    If you are over age 66, your SERS benefit is reduced by the amount of the benefit you receive from the SSA. Example: If your SERS nonoccupational disability benefit is $1000 monthly, you are eligible for a Social Security benefit of $600 monthly. Your net SERS benefit is $400 monthly.

    What is the process for determining if I am eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

    You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if your disability lasts more than twelve months. SERS contracts with a firm specializing in assisting members through the Social Security disability application process. If your case is accepted, you will be contacted to begin the application process. If your case is not accepted, and you remain disabled for more than twelve months, you must apply directly to Social Security for disability benefits. SERS will give you specific directions about the filing process.

    What impact will my claim for SSA disability have on any SERS benefits I'm receiving?

    While your disability claim is reviewed by the Social Security Administration, you will receive full SERS benefits. If you become eligible for Social Security benefits, your SERS disability benefit is reduced by the amount of your Social Security benefit. You must repay SERS the Social Security benefits paid to you during the review period. This lump sum repayment should be made when you receive your initial Social Security payment.

    Will future increases in my Social Security disability benefit be subtracted from my SERS benefit?

    No. Your SERS benefit will be reduced only by the initial monthly award amount from the Social Security Administration. Any annual increases or other types of benefits will not be subtracted.

    How long can I receive nonoccupational disability benefits if I have a long-term illness?

    Your nonoccupational disability benefits will stop when one of the following occurs:

    • You exhaust one-half of your credited service.
    • Your disability ends.
    • You resume employment.
    • You reach age 65 (if your disability begins at age 60 or older, benefits are payable for up to five years).

    Is there a 30-day waiting period before my nonoccupational disability benefits can begin?

    Yes, but your sick or vacation time can be used to fulfill this waiting period. If you have enough sick and vacation time to fulfill the waiting period, you begin accruing benefits when you are removed from the payroll.

    Do I have to use my sick and vacation time to qualify for nonoccupational disability benefits?

    Before nonoccupational disability benefits can begin, you must deplete all sick time. You do not have to use any vacation time or personal days.