This guide is designed to familiarize you with procedures applicable to the disability retirement of public employees who are members of Massachusetts contributory retirement systems. The contents do not affect the contractual rights between a system and its members and, in the case of any conflict, Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws and the regulations promulgated by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) shall govern.
For procedures applicable to public employee retirement generally, members should refer to PERAC’s Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement Guides and PERAC’s Guides to Survivor Benefits for Public Employees. There are different guides on these topics depending upon a person’s date of membership in the retirement system.
Updates to This Guide:
This guide reflects changes and amendments to the law through July 1, 2015.
Information about obtaining additional copies of this guide can be found online at www.mass.gov/perac.
Accidental Disability: Eligibility
There are two types of disability for which public employees may be retired: Accidental and Ordinary.
- Who is eligible to apply for an accidental disability retirement?
Essential Duties of Position
Generally, if a member's permanent incapacitation prevents him or her from performing the essential duties of his or her position because of a personal injury sustained or a hazard undergone while in the performance of his or her duties at a definite time and place and without serious and willful misconduct on his or her part, he or she is eligible to apply.
- Is there any age limitation for applying for accidental disability retirement?
Maximum Age for Group
Firefighters, municipal police officers, correction officers, and state court judges must apply before reaching the maximum age for their group.
- Do applicants for accidental disability retirement have to meet any minimum service or age requirements?
- Must I be a member-in-service to apply for accidental disability retirement?
A public employee applying for an accidental disability allowance need not be a member-in-service at the time of application. An applicant must be a member-in-service at the time of the injury, and must become permanently disabled while still a member-in-service.
- May I receive an accidental disability allowance from one retirement system while continuing to be a member-in-service of another system?
If you are eligible to receive an accidental disability allowance from one system, your disability pension or retirement allowance will not become effective until you terminate your service from the second system. Until such termination, you will be required to waive the receipt of your disability benefit.
Notice of Injury Requirement
- Should I notify my retirement board if I am injured on the job?
If you have an accident on the job, or are exposed to a health hazard, it is extremely important that a notice of injury is filed with your retirement board, in addition to the notice filed with your employer. The notice should be filed within 90 days of the occurrence of the injury or exposure. This establishes the time, place, and occurrence of the accident or hazard for future reference. If you later become disabled, and more than two years have passed since the accident or hazard, it is imperative that you have an official record in order to seek accidental disability benefits. The notice of injury serves as the official record.
Proof of receipt of Workers' Compensation benefits may fulfill the notice requirement for those members covered by Workers' Compensation. Official departmental records may be utilized for members who are not covered by Workers' Compensation.