Types of Disability Benefits
There are two types of disability benefits--duty and non-duty--as described below:
Duty Disability: If you are a PERS member and your PERS employment is the primary contributing cause of your disability, you may apply for disability retirement regardless of your length of service.
Non-Duty Disability: You must have accrued 10 or more years of PERS service time (10 or more calendar years as an active member if you are a school employee) to apply for a non-job-caused disability. Please contact Member Services to initially determine if you may be eligible to apply for a non-duty disability.
Upon applying for either a duty or non-duty disability and being approved for benefits, your benefit will be 45 percent of your actual salary earned as of the last month of employment prior to the commencement of your disability.
Applying for Disability Benefits
If you meet the general requirements outlined above, you should contact PERS Member Services and request an Application for Disability Benefits. However, you cannot submit your application until you have actually stopped working. In addition to the application, you will receive a disability Q & A with frequently asked questions and answers and a fact sheet on returning to work.
If you anticipate being disabled for at least 90 consecutive days, you can apply during the 90-day period; you do not have to wait until you have met the 90-day requirement. You can apply while receiving paid leave, but PERS cannot make disability payments for any month that you received salary or paid leave benefits from your employer, not including of the lump-sum payoff of accrued vacation or compensatory time.
Upon receipt of the completed forms, PERS will contact your doctor(s) to obtain information. PERS staff may also request information from your employer, previous employers, workers' compensation, or private insurance companies. The PERS staff and medical advisor will review this information and make a recommendation to the PERS executive director, who acts for the PERS Board. If PERS approves your disability retirement, you will receive an approval packet.
The benefit payment process begins once you have submitted the required forms. Your employer also has mandatory forms that PERS must receive before it can pay benefits.
Benefits are effective the first of the month following the last month in which you received salary from your employer (not including the lump-sum payoff of vacation or compensatory payoffs). PERS will not pay any benefits until you have been physically off the job for 90 consecutive days. After the 90-day period, however, benefits paid are retroactive to your effective disability retirement date if no salary has been paid for that time.
If you qualify for a disability retirement, you will receive disability benefits until you are deemed by medical personnel that you are no longer disabled or you attain normal retirement age.
Exams and Work Limits
To determine your eligibility for continued disability benefits, PERS is required, by law, to perform periodic reviews of your continued eligibility for benefits until you reach normal retirement age. PERS will also contact the Oregon Employment Department to determine if you are working and may request a copy of your annual tax returns.
If You Recover
If you recover from your disability before reaching normal retirement age, or if you return to a full-time PERS-qualifying position, your disability benefits will stop.
Return to Work
If you return to work in any capacity, your disability benefits will stop. You must notify PERS of the date and place of employment within 30 days. Any overpaid benefits will need to be repaid to PERS.
For more information read answers to your questions about the OPSRP Disability Program.