The attorneys of Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer represent clients in several different types of disability cases; we do not only handle disability cases with the Social Security Administration. So over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight some of those other disability cases that we may be able to help you with – starting with OPERS.
In Ohio, if you are a public employee, instead of paying into Social Security you are paying into PERS (Public Employee Retirement System). In order to qualify for disability benefits you must have at least 60months (5years) of contributing and/or purchased service and a disability or illness (physical or mental) that renders you unable to perform the duties of your last public employment position. Also, this condition must be expected to last for a continuous 12 month period and must relate to an injury/illness that either: occurred before you terminated your contributing service, or was present before you terminated your contributing service but did not manifest itself for up to 2 years after.
In order to process your claim for disability, you must file several forms, including a physician report from your doctor. Once the application is filed, OPERS will schedule a medical review and then your application for disability benefits will go to the OPERS Board for approval. If the Board denies your application for disability benefits you do have the right to appeal and provide additional medical evidence. However, it is important to know that you do not have a large window to appeal your decision. Your appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date of the denial. Once the appeal has been filed, you have 45 days (with another 45 day extension upon request) to file your additional medical evidence – which must include a new physician report from your doctor. The Board will then review your appeal and make their decision on your disability application.
Once approved, the Board will periodically review your case to determine whether you are still disabled. For OPERS members who file for disability after January 7, 2013, after 3 years of receiving a disability benefit they will be re-evaluated under their any occupation standard. Under this standard, the member is disabled only if they can show that they are no longer physically or mentally capable of performing any position that: replaces 75% of the members’ final average salary (FAS); that is reasonably found in the member’s regional job market; and for which the member is qualified to do based on their education and experience.
Our firm can help you get the benefits you deserve thru OPERS. If you, or someone you know is in need of help, or has questions, please contact us.