Benefits & Appeals for OPERS Disability
Columbus Worker's Comp Lawyer
If you are a member of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System ("OPERS"
or "PERS"), you are eligible for one of two disability programs:
(1) the original plan, or (2) the revised plan.
Employees who had contributions on deposit with OPERS on July 29, 1992
had a one-time opportunity to select coverage under one of these programs.
Those employees hired after July 29, 1992 are covered only under the revised
plan. The following is a summary of the common features of the two plans.
The differences are also explained.
Disability Benefit Amount
If the Retirement Board approves your application, the disability benefit
is effective the first day of the month following your service termination
provided you otherwise qualify.
Under the Original Plan, the amount of your disability allowance is based
on your "final average salary" and years of service with OPERS,
plus the length of time between the effective date of the disability benefit
and age 60. For instance, if you are age 56 when granted a disability
benefit and have 16 years of service credit, 20 years of service credit
will be used in determining the amount of allowance instead of 16 years.
Under the Original Plan, the disability benefit will be at least 30 percent,
but not more than 75 percent of your final average salary.
Under the Original Plan, the benefit payment is fully taxable until minimum
retirement age, at which time a specified dollar amount, representing
the return of taxed contributions, is provided on a monthly tax-free basis.
Law enforcement members disabled due to an on-duty injury or illness receive
30 percent of their benefit payments tax-free.
Under the Revised Plan, the disability benefit is based on your final average
salary and years of service with OPERS with no early retirement reductions,
but cannot be less than 45 percent or exceed 60 percent of your final
Under the Revised Plan, the disability benefit is fully taxable as long
as it is received. For a law enforcement member disabled due to an on-duty
injury or illness, 45 percent of the benefit payment is excludable from
Continuing Benefits and Termination
OPERS will terminate your disability benefits if you are no longer disabled,
if you return to public service, or if you choose to begin receiving an
age and service pension, at your death, or at your request.
OPERS may require you to be examined at least once a year. If OPERS determines
you are no longer disabled, OPERS will notify you that your benefits will
be terminated within three (3) months. If you have received a disability
benefit for less than five (5) years, OPERS will certify to your previous
employer that you are no longer incapable of returning to work. Your employer
will then restore you to your previous position, or a similar position,
and salary unless you were dismissed or resigned in lieu of dismissal
for dishonesty, malfeasance, misfeasance, or conviction of a felony.
If you return to public service and make contributions for two (2) years,
you will receive service credit for the period of time you received disability benefits.
A return to employment with a private employer may affect continuing receipt
of disability benefits.
Health care coverage is effective the first of the month following the
Retirement Board's approval of your application, provided your public
service has terminated.
OPERS will pay you an annual cost-of-living adjustment, depending on changes
in the Consumer Price Index.
Under the Original Plan, the disability benefit is payable for life, but
will terminate if one of the events listed above occurs. In that case,
an existing age and service retirement benefit may be available if you
are otherwise eligible.
Under the Revised Plan, the disability benefit is payable for only a definite
period of time, depending on your age at the effective date of your benefit.
For instance, if you are younger than age 60 at the effective benefit
date of disability, your disability benefit is payable until age 65.
In the event OPERS denies your claim for disability benefits, Ohio Administrative
Code 145-2-23 provides an appellate process you may follow in order to
obtain further review of your claim. An appellate process also exists
in the event OPERS issues a decision to terminate your disability benefits.
In either event, it is prudent to obtain new medical evidence to support
your claim, or a continuation of your disability benefits, since OPERS
will be itself obtaining a new medical review or be scheduling a new exam
based upon your appeal. If OPERS denies your appeal, you have the right
to file a mandamus lawsuit with the Tenth District Court of Appeals of
Ohio, Franklin County. It is advisable you contact an Ohio workers'
compensation attorney to discuss your options and the merits of a mandamus lawsuit.
The above information is intended solely as an overview. It is advisable
to contact a
Columbus disability lawyer to assess the merits of your individual claim. Please
call our office to discuss the specifics of your case.