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OPERS Eligibility

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In the event medical and/or psychological disabilities prevent you from performing the duties of your employment, you should be aware of the benefits provided by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System ("OPERS" or "PERS"). Below is a summary of the eligibility requirements to qualify for a disability retirement from the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System.

Disability Programs

Chapter 145 of the Ohio Revised Code sets forth the law governing the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

If you are a member of OPERS, 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.

Eligibility

  • According to Ohio Revised Code 145.35(B), you must have at least five (5) years of contributing service credit, unless you are in the law enforcement division and become disabled due to an on-duty illness or injury. Members of OPERS in the law enforcement division have "day-one" coverage for on-duty illnesses or injuries.
  • You must go off the payroll due to a presumably permanent disabling condition (either physical, psychological, or a combination), which prevents you from performing your job duties. You are not eligible for a disability retirement if your disability is "temporary." Generally, a disability is considered "permanent" if it is expected to last at least twelve (12) consecutive months. Your disability is not required to be job-related; most OPERS members receiving disability benefits became disabled as a result of a disease or a non-work related accident.
  • No more than two (2) years have passed since contributing service has terminated, unless at the end of the two-year period you were disabled and unable to file an application as proven by medical records.
  • You must not be receiving an age and service retirement benefit.

Under the Original Plan, you must file an application for disability before age 60.

Under the Revised Plan, you may file an application for disability at any age.

Application

There are several forms you must file in order to pursue a disability benefit with OPERS. In addition, you must provide proof of your date of birth.

  • You must complete a Disability Benefit Application (DR-1), which must be signed and notarized.
  • Your physician must complete the Report of Attending Physician for Disability Benefit Applicant (DR-3). On this form, your physician must describe in detail the disability on which your application is based.
  • You must also sign this form, authorizing your physician to file a report with the OPERS Retirement Board.
  • Form DR-4 is the Report of Employer for Disability Benefit Applicant, and is completed by your employer and the payroll officer of the department in which you were employed.

The above information is intended solely as an overview. It is advisable to contact a Columbus worker's compensation attorney from the offices of Charles Zamora Co., L.P.A. to assess the merits of your individual claim. Please call us at (614) 344-6822 to discuss the specifics of your case

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