If you are a public employee in Ohio and you’re suffering from a mental or physical disability that prevents you from being able to work, you may qualify for disability benefits under the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS). Also referred to as PERS, the OPERS program offers disability benefits to both Traditional and Combined Plan members.
In order to be eligible for OPERS disability benefits, a member must be mentally or physically incapable of performing the duties of the position he or she held at the time the disabling condition began. Coverage extends to injuries or illnesses that occur before a member’s contributing service terminates. If an illness or injury results from contributing service, it must become evident no later than two years after the date that contributing service ends. Disabilities resulting from elective cosmetic surgery other than reconstructive surgery do not qualify.
OPERS members are eligible for two disability benefit programs: the original plan and the revised plan. Members who had contributions on deposit on July 29, 1992 could have selected coverage under either the original plan or revised plan. Members who were hired after July 29, 1992 are only eligible for coverage under the revised plan. Under both plans, OPERS members must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for disability benefits:
OPERS members with temporary disabilities do not qualify – a disabling condition must be permanent in order to qualify you for disability benefits. A permanent disability is one that is expected to last for a continuous period of at least one year following the filing of an application for disability benefits. The disability does not have to have occurred on the job. The majority of people receiving OPERS disability benefits became disabled because of a disease or accident that occurred “off-the-job”.
OPERS members must file the Disability Benefit Application along with reports by their employer and physician. Your physician must complete the Report of Attending Physician, describing your disability in detail. Your employer and the payroll officer in your department must complete the Report of Employer for Disability Benefit Applicant form and submit it along with a written job description. Once OPERS receives all of the required forms, you will be required to undergo a medical review conducted by an OPERS-appointed administrator.
If you have questions about OPERS disability benefits, be sure to get in touch with a Columbus disability attorney at Jones Law Group. We help public employees in Ohio obtain the disability benefits to which they are entitled. Whether you are considering applying for OPERS disability benefits, your application has been denied, or you have questions about the application process, Jones Law Group can assist you. Call (614) 545-9998 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
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