A member who must terminate employment and participation in OPERS due to significant health problems may be entitled to monthly disability retirement benefits if the following two conditions are met:
1. He or she qualifies for payment of disability benefits as certified by the Social Security Administration provided a) the date of disability established by the Social Security Administration falls within one year of the employee’s last date physically on the job and b) the employee must have been an active regularly–scheduled employee with a participating employer at the time of disability.
2. The member has at least 8 years of credited service (prior and participating may be combined, but the member must have at least 6 full years of full-time participating employment with a participating employer).
A legible copy of the complete Award Letter from the Social Security Administration of Baltimore, Maryland, or Regional Program Center is the only proof of disability required and accepted by OPERS.
There is no minimum age requirement for receipt of disability retirement benefits. Members who retire under disability benefits may elect Option A or the Maximum Benefit. The disability reduction factors for Option A are adjusted to reflect disabled rather than active status and are different than the reduction factors for Option A listed in the Member Handbook. If the member is receiving state disability insurance payments, the benefit paid by disability insurance will be offset or reduced by the amount of the benefits paid by OPERS and by the Social Security Administration.
Application For Disability Benefits
Upon receipt of the Social Security Award Letter, the employee should immediately forward a complete (all pages) copy to OPERS or to the Retirement Coordinator. Upon receipt of the Social Security Award Letter, OPERS will send an Application for Disability Retirement Benefits (Form 515-127) to the employee for the employee to complete and return to OPERS. OPERS will then send the forms to the employer for the Retirement Coordinator to complete. The Application for Disability Retirement Benefits must be signed by the Retirement Coordinator verifying:
- The last day the member was physically on the job;
- The last date the member received compensation for which retirement contributions were paid, (excluding longevity pay);
- The member’s resignation date; and
- The member’s number of hours of unused sick leave.
The member may not receive disability benefits for any month in which the member received pay from the employer on the regular payroll (excluding longevity payments). This means that the member cannot receive any disability retirement payments until his or her employment has terminated. The completed application should be forwarded back to OPERS for processing.