Tier 1 Nonoccupational Disability Benefits

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 sick leave.
  • You are granted a medical leave of absence.
  • You have submitted the required forms to SERS.

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 from your date last worked. The application process obtain a medical report from an acceptable licensed medical 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:

  • 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).
  • 30 days from the determined medical onset of your disability.

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:

  • You are no longer disablied from performing your job duties.
  • You resume employment.
  • You reach age 65. (If your disability begins after age 60, benefits are payable for 5 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.

Benefit Amount

Your disability benefit equals 50% of your salary rate or your average final compensation (FAC), whichever is higher. Your FAC is the highest 48 consecutive months of service within the last 120 months of service.  

If you pay into Social Security and are under age 66, your benefit will be reduced by the amount of Social Security disability benefits you may receive.  If you have reached full retirement age, your SERS benefit will be reduced by the amount of unreduced SSA retirement benefits you are eligible to receive.

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 60 and have at least 8 years of credited service.
  • You are age 55 and have at least 15 years of credited service.
  • You are age 50 and have at least 20 years of credited service.

Your pension benefit will be based on your total years of credited service and your final average compensation.

Benefit Increase

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 based on the net amount of your benefit.

Service Credit

While you receive disability benefits, your SERS account will continue to be credited with service and contributions as if you were working.