When is Retirement Disability available?
Disability Retirement is available to workers that can no longer perform the full duties required of their specific title. This legal standard means that you must no longer be able to perform your job, it does not require that you be disabled from all jobs in the United States like Social Security Disability. If you and your treating doctors believe that your injury or illness will not allow you to return to your previous work, an application for Disability Retirement should be file.
How does NYCERS determine if I am disabled?
NYCERS has established a Medical Board to hear each application for disability retirement. This three doctor panel is charged with reviewing all the evidence a member submits in support of their claim for benefits and is also required to physically examine the injured/ill worker. Once examined, the Medical Board will recommend to the NYCERS governing body, the Board of Trustees, whether or not to approve or deny your claim. By law, the Board of Trustees cannot overturn the Medical Boards determination regarding a member’s fitness for duty, but must make its own determination on issues regarding the accidental nature of your injury and casual relationship, that is, whether your injury was caused by the specific accident alleged in the application.
If I am approved, will I receive medical benefits from NYCERS?
Technically, the answer is no. NYCERS does not administer medical benefit coverage. Instead, medical benefit coverage is a contractual issue. Rest assured, almost all contracts today treat disability retirees the same as service retirees, preserving their medical benefits upon retirement.
Can I work another job as a Disability Retirement recipient?
Yes, however you will be subject to income limitations, which change annually. Whenever you decide to take new employment, you should contact NYCERS to find out the current income limitation.
Can I receive a Disability Pension, Social Security Disability, and NYS Workers’ Compensation together, without offset?
Yes, Tier 4 Disability Pension benefits are not offset by the receipt of either SSD or NYS Workers’ Compensation and a member can receive all 3 benefits payments under the law.
When should I file a Disability Retirement application?
The Retirement and Social Security Law has various filing deadlines for disability retirement depending on the pension Tier the member has been assigned. Tiers are determined based on one’s original membership date with NYCERS. Although the law sets guidelines on the latest date a member can apply for a disability pension, the basic rule of thumb is that an injured worker should apply for a disability pension as soon as they and their physician determine that they are no longer able to return to their prior work, but not later than 6 months after an injured worker has been absent from work on an approved medical leave. Remember, the law allows your employer to medically separate you after one year of absence. Therefore, in order to avoid medical separation, and possible interruption of medical insurance coverage and other benefits, it is in a worker’s best interest to file as early as possible.
Statute of Limitations for Filing
Within 3 months of the date a member was last paid on payroll, or within 1 year of when a member received notification that their employment has been terminated as long as the member was on an employer approved medical leave of absence prior to termination.
Definition of Presumption
If an individual’s pre-employment records/medical records before 9/11 don’t have a diagnosis of a “qualifying condition” and if they worked at the World Trade Center disaster site-particular to the areas outlined below-NYSLRS can “presume” the individuals diagnosis stemmed from the work they did in the aftermath of 9/11.
World Trade Center qualifying locations, as defined by the NYS Comptroller’s Office:
- The World Trade Center site (defined as the area below a line starting from the Hudson River and Canal Street bearing east on Canal Street to Pike Street, continuing south on Pike Street to the East River; and extending to the lower tip of Manhattan);
- The New York City (NYC) morgue or any temporary morgue;
- The Fresh Kills Landfill; and
- On the barges that ran between Manhattan and the Fresh Kills Landfill.
Do I still qualify if I worked at locations different from those in Question 1?
The guidelines to qualify for presumption benefits are based on:
- qualifying locations and/or qualifying duties.
- The length of time/period of time which duties were performed.
Per the NYS Comptroller’s Office, if an individual performed any kind of clean up duties during the first two-day period after the first plane crash, or worked a cumulative 40 hours from 9/11/01 to 9/12/02 at one or more of the locations in Question #1, they meet the qualifications for presumption. They also are eligible if specific duties were performed at particular NYPD, FDNY, or EMS locations during the first 24 hours of clean up operations, or fixed cars/equipment effected by debris, whether or not it was done at one of the locations in Question 1.
Does this cover accidental disability benefits?
The WTC Presumption Law only provides Presumption Benefits. However, if an individuals retirement plan has accidental disability benefits, and they were deemed permanently disabled, this law could make them eligible for WTC Accidental Disability Presumption. There is no deadline for the WTC Accidental Disability Presumption form (Form RS6047-W), as long as they file a World Trade Center Notice on/prior to 9/11/2022, as required by the NYS State Comptroller’s Office. If an individual has already retired with accidental disability benefits, they are not eligible for other benefits.
What is the filing deadline?
The deadline was recently extended to September 11th, 2022. An individual who wants to file for Presumption must fill out both the Presumption form (RS6047-W) and the Notice form (RS6047-N) by 9/11/2022.
What about individuals who retired before 9/11?
Those who retired prior to 9/11 are not eligible.
If I opt for a Partial Lump Sum payment, can I still file for a reclassification of benefits?
Yes. Please take note an individual must pay back the Partial Lump Sum along with accrued interest, and that this only applies to accidental death benefits.
If an individual dies as a result of their condition, what does this provide for their beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries could potentially change disability retirement benefits into WTC accidental death benefits if the person they are a beneficiary of passes away within 25 years of the day they retired and if that same person filed a WTC Notice by 9/11/2022. This will depend on the policies in the respective individual’s retirement plan concerning their beneficiaries.