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Tier One/Tier Two disability retirement FAQs

To help you better understand disability retirement benefits, PERS has compiled the following answers to frequently asked questions.

Disability retirement comes in two categories: nonduty and duty.

To be eligible for either nonduty or duty disability retirement, a member must be totally, not partially, disabled and anticipate being unable to perform any work for which you are qualified for a minimum of 90 consecutive days.

Beyond this basic criteria, each type has additional requirements as follows:

  • Nonduty — You must have 10 or more years of qualifying service as a Tier One/Tier Two member. If you have fewer than 10 years of service, contact PERS to have a disability specialist review your service time.
  • Duty — You have established membership as a Tier One or Tier Two member, and your work was the material contributing cause of your injury or disease.

You should apply as soon as you are physically off the job, regardless of whether you are on paid leave.

You can apply during the 90-consecutive-day period; you need not wait until the 90-consecutive-day period of disability has been met.

You must be off all work at the time you submit your application.

Contact Member Services for a Tier One/Tier Two disability application packet.

You should speak to your physicians before applying for a Tier One/Tier Two disability retirement and let them know PERS will contact them to confirm and document your condition.

Ask your health care providers if they require their own information release. If so, complete their required form and submit it to PERS with your application.

If your disability is duty-related, you will need to provide a copy of your workers’ compensation report to PERS for review. Note that some workers’ compensation carriers will only release records to you and will not release records to PERS.

PERS requires specialists for certain disabling conditions:

  • Mental and emotional disorders require a report from a psychiatrist or a minimum of one report each from a psychologist and a medical physician.
  • Orthopedic injuries or disease require a report from a treating or consulting orthopedic specialist or orthopedic surgeon.
  • Neurological injuries or disease require a report from a treating or consulting neurologist or neurosurgeon.
  • Fibromyalgia requires a report from a treating or consulting rheumatologist.
  • PERS may require reports from other specialized physicians depending on your condition.

If you are not sure your health care provider meets PERS criteria, contact Member Services for assistance.

When you complete your application for disability retirement, list the physicians who have treated your condition. PERS will require medical documentation from the time you stopped working to the time you apply for disability retirement.

No. You must be unable to perform any work​ you are qualified to perform, not just your last or usual job.


When you submit your disability retirement application, you also will complete a medical/nonmedical release form.

Once PERS receives your forms, we will request each of the following:​

  • Medical information from your health care providers, hospital, or clinic.
  • Documentation from your employer, workers’ compensation carrier (if applicable), and disability insurance company.

After medical information is received, PERS staff and a medical advisor will review your records to determine eligibility using Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules.

If you are within five calendar years from the date you stopped working for your PERS-covered employer, you can apply if:

  • The disabling condition is ongoing, from the date you stopped working to your disability application date.
  • You have not withdrawn your Tier One/Tier Two member account.
  • You have not worked in any capacity — including non-PERS-qualifying employment or self-employment — during this time.

You must apply within six months of the date you stopped working.

If you were disabled within that six-month period, have not withdrawn your Tier One/Tier Two member account, and you continue to be disabled, you may be eligible for disability benefits.

The disability determination can take up to six months, sometimes longer, from the date PERS receives your initial application.

If your application for disability retirement is approved, you will receive an approval packet in the mail. This packet includes the forms you will need to complete to get your disability benefits.

Your employer also must submit mandatory information to PERS before benefits can be paid.

After you are approved for disability retirement, your effective date of disability is the first of the month following any month you received paid salary or paid leave.

No payment can be made until 90 consecutive days have passed in which you are unable to work, except in cases of terminal illness.

After the 90-day period, benefits are paid retroactively to your effective date of disability retirement, which is based on information we receive from your physician and employer.

You are not required to use all your vacation and sick leave.

However, disability benefits will not begin until you receive the last of any paid leave from a participating employer, including any lump-sum payment for accrued vacation leave or compensatory time.

In your disability application packet, you will receive a “Request for Disability Estimate” form.

If you would like an estimate of your benefits, you must complete and return this form with your disability application. PERS will send you an estimate of your disability benefits.

The same calculation methods are used to calculate either disability or service retirement benefits:

  • If you are a general service employee, the years and months of service you would have accrued had you been able to work until age 58 will be used to calculate a monthly disability benefit.
  • If you are a police officer or firefighter employee, the years and months of service you would have accrued had you been able to work to age 55 will be used to calculate a monthly disability benefit.

No, lump-sum payment options are not available under a disability retirement. All other payment options are available.

You have 60 days from the date of the first benefit payment to change your option.

The option you choose will apply to the time you are receiving disability retirement benefits and will continue for life unless you are no longer disabled and your disability payments are discontinued.

If your disability retirement is discontinued, you will select a new option when you apply for service retirement.

Disability retirement benefits will continue as long as you meet the PERS disability criteria.

Yes, the law requires periodic reviews of your disability status to continue disability retirement payments.

You should schedule routine visits with your treating physicians so that current information (within three months of your review date) will be available for your periodic review.

As part of the review, PERS also will contact the Oregon Employment Department to determine if you are working and may request a copy of your annual tax returns.

Medical reviews are normally no longer required once you reach regular retirement age (58 for general service Tier One members, 60 for general service Tier Two, and 55 for police officer or firefighter members).

PERS may deem it necessary to review medical or financial information after regular retirement age.

Yes, you can cancel your application for disability retirement any time before the date your first disability retirement benefit is issued.

You must complete a cancellation form provided by PERS.

PERS will notify you by regular and certified mail.

The first notification, an “Intent to Deny” letter, is considered a preliminary denial. The letter will cite the reasons for the determination.

You will have 30 days to provide PERS with additional documentation to support your claim. You also have the option of requesting a time extension of 30 additional days.

If PERS does not receive additional information supporting your claim, or if the additional information we receive does not change the determination, we will notify you by regular and certified mail. This notification is considered a formal denial.

The formal denial letter will provide you with your appeal rights, and you will have 45 days to submit your appeal of the denial of disability retirement.

Your employer may provide health insurance coverage. Contact your payroll or personnel office for more information.

If your disability retirement is approved, you will receive information about PERS-sponsored health insurance plans from the PERS Health Insurance Program (PHIP). Contact PHIP if you have questions.

If you are medically released before you reach regular retirement age, or return to work in any capacity, you are required to notify PERS immediately.

Your disability benefit will be discontinued, and your account balance will be reinstated to the amount that was in your account when your disability retirement became effective.

You will be required to repay any benefit payments you were not entitled to.

If you are receiving a disability retirement benefit and you return to work in any capacity, including self-employment, you must notify PERS immediately that you have returned to work.

Depending on your specific case, you may be able to return to work and still receive a disability retirement benefit.

In some cases, a member’s disability retirement benefit is reduced based on the amount of earnings from their job. In other cases, disability benefits may be discontinued entirely.

If you return to work at a PERS-participating employer, you are limited to 599 hours per calendar year.

If you work 600 or more hours in a calendar year, your disability benefit will be discontinued as of the first of the month that you return to work, and you must repay any benefits you were not entitled to.

If you are working for a PERS-participating employer, are self-employed, or working at a non-PERS employer, you must report your income monthly to PERS.

For further information regarding returning to work please refer to the Tier One/Tier Two disability retirement work and income guideline​s.

You must report unemployment benefits received to PERS and report your disability retirement allowance received from PERS to the Oregon Employment Department.


This webpage is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. If there is any conflict between this webpage and federal law, Oregon law, or administrative rules, the laws and rules shall prevail.

Need to cancel your disability retirement claim?

If you have applied for disability retirement but need to cancel your claim, submit a Cancellation of Application for Disability Benefits form to PERS.

Did you miss the disability benefits overview page?

Be sure to check out the Disability benefits overview for Tier One/Tier Two members webpage if you haven’t already done so.