All applications for disability retirement must be reviewed by the members of the Board at one of their monthly meetings. Only the Board may grant disability retirement benefits.

If you should find yourself permanently disabled and unable to work for an extended period of time, you may be eligible to receive one of two types of disability retirement benefits:

  • accidental disability benefits if your disability is work-related; or,
  • ordinary disability benefits if your disability is non-work-related.

How do I apply for a disability retirement allowance?

To apply, you will need to complete our Disability Retirement Application pdf format of    Disability retirement application  , which contains various release forms so that we may gather documentation from doctors, medical institutions and insurers. For detailed information, please refer to our booklet, What You Need to Know About Disability Retirement pdf format of    What You Need to Know About Disability Retirement  , which contains common questions and answers on the disability process. However, because there are many issues involved in the disability retirement application process, you may want to have a conversation with the Disability Case Manager in our legal unit before filing the application to be sure that this is an appropriate option for your particular situation.

What happens after I submit my application?

  • Upon receipt of your completed application, we will request the appropriate medical, hospital and insurance records and request that your school department complete our Employer's Statement pdf format of    Disability Applicant's Employer's Statement  regarding the circumstances of your disability. The Employer’s Statement is a questionnaire regarding the nature of the event, injury or accident which led to your present state of disability as well as your capacity for employment. Additionally, we will request that the physician who has provided the primary care and treatment for your disability complete a Physician's Statement pdf format of    Disability Applicant's Physician's Statement  .
  • Upon receipt of the documentation from your medical providers, we will review all of the materials and, in most cases, we will ask the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) to set up a three-member regional medical panel to examine you.
  • After being appointed by PERAC, the regional medical panel will meet to conduct its examination of you.
  • After completing its examination, the regional medical panel will report its findings and recommendation to PERAC, who will forward the report to the Board.
  • After receipt of the report, we will notify you of the panel’s findings and provide you with a copy of all of the documents completed by the regional medical panel. Your application is then ready to be considered by the full Board.
  • When a Board hearing is scheduled, we will notify you. If your application is approved by the Board, it will be transmitted to PERAC for final action; PERAC must act on your application within 30 days of its receipt. If your application is denied by the Board, we will advise you of your right to appeal the decision.

Do I have to appear at the Board hearing?

All disability applicants are welcome to attend the Board meeting and will be heard by the Board, though for many ODR cases, applicants' attendance is not necessary. An applicant may choose to be represented by an attorney before the Board.

Am I required to have a medical panel examination?

Unless the Board denies your application as a matter of law prior to the convening of a medical panel, applicants must attend a medical panel examination. Pursuant to Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws, every member of a state contributory retirement system who applies for disability benefits must be examined by a regional medical panel.

Will I be re-examined on a regular basis to see if I am capable of returning to work?

PERAC may conduct a re-examination of you once per year during the first two-year period after the effective date of your retirement, and then once a year every three years after that.

Does PERAC have the authority to suspend or modify my retirement allowance?

Yes. Please see M.G.L. c. 32, S. 8 and PERAC's website.

Overview of disability retirement benefits: Accidental vs. ordinary
 Accidental disabilityOrdinary disability
Who can apply?Any teacher or administrator who is contributing a percentage of his or her salary to the MTRS.Any teacher or administrator who is contributing a percentage of his or her salary to the MTRS and who has 10 years of service.
What are the disability criteria?

A medical panel of three physicians must certify and the Board must find that:

  • you are essentially unable to perform the duties of your particular job and
  • the disability is such that it is likely to be permanent and
  • the disability is the natural and proximate result of the personal injury you sustained or the hazard undergone.

A medical panel of three physicians must certify and the Board must find that:

  • you are essentially unable to perform the duties of your particular job and
  • the disability is such that it is likely to be permanent.
How is the benefit allowance calculated?

The benefit allowance has two components:

  • your annuity, a sum based on your age and contributions to the MTRS and the interest on those contributions, plus
  • your pension, an amount equal to 72% of your yearly compensation as of the date you were injured. This portion of your benefit will not be taxed.

If you are a military veteran, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 32, §1, and c. 4, §7, cl.43, a veteran’s bonus will be added to your allowance. The veteran’s bonus is equal to $15 per year of creditable service, up to a maximum annual total of $300.

If you are:

  • a non-veteran, your allowance is calculated under the superannuation retirement formula as if you had retired at either:
    • age 55, if you are in Membership Tier 1 (your effective membership date is before April 2, 2012), or
    • age 60, if you are in Membership Tier 2 (your effective membership date is on or after April 2, 2012).
  • a veteran, your allowance is equal to a yearly annuity amount plus one-half of your salary for the last twelve months during which you were actually employed, OR the superannuation allowance to which you are entitled, whichever is greater.
Are there any benefits for my children?

Yes--if you have any dependent children you will receive an additional benefit of $450 per year per child, plus all of the cost-of-living adjustment increases paid since 1988. As of July 1, 2012, the additional annual benefit for eligible children was $774.36. 

A dependent child is a child under age 18 or a child of any age who is physically or mentally incapacitated from earning. If your child reaches age 18 and then continues his or her education on a full-time basis, the stipend will continue until he or she reaches age 22. The MTRS will verify that your child is a full-time student every semester until he or she reaches age 22.

No--there are no additional benefits for dependent children.
Can I receive my allowance under any Option—A, B or C?Yes.Yes.

Please note that, because the disability benefit formulas vary by type and, for ordinary disability cases, whether you are a veteran or non-veteran and whether you are participating in RetirementPlus, they are not shown here. For more information and sample calculations, please see What You Need to Know About Disability Retirement pdf format of    What You Need to Know About Disability Retirement  .