If you are injured or become ill and can no longer perform the duties of your position, you can apply for disability retirement benefits.
Guide The Disability Retirement Application Process
Table of Contents
Applying for disability retirement
- To begin the disability retirement application process, you must contact your local retirement system.
- There are 104 public retirement systems in Massachusetts. Find your system and file your application with them.
- You must complete and file a Disability Retirement Application Form.
- Read the Massachusetts Public Employee Guide to Disability Retirement - Regardless of the Date of Membership for detailed information on the process
- If you are filing for disability retirement benefits as a result of a work-related injury or hazard, you must file an injury report with your employer within 90 days.
Additional Resources for Applying for disability retirement
Types of disability retirements
- You sustained an injury or hazard while in the performance of your duties.
- The annual pension benefit is 72% of the annual rate of compensation on the date of the injury or hazard, or if in a temporary position at the time of the injury, your last 12-month salary average in your permanent position, whichever is greater.
- There is no minimum service requirement for an accidental disability
- You sustained an injury or have an illness that is not job-related (in the performance of your duties).
- In most retirement systems, you must have at least 10 years of creditable service. Some systems require 15 years of creditable service.
- Non-veteran benefit calculation is based on a superannuation calculation of your age and years of creditable service.
- If you became a member-in-service prior to April 2, 2012, and you are under age 55, your age will be calculated as if you were 55.
- If you became a member-in-service on or after April 2, 2012, and you are under age 60, your age will be calculated as if you were 60.
- Veterans must have 10 years of creditable service
- Veterans receive a calculation of 50% of the annual rate of regular compensation for the last year before retirement plus an annuity based on age and accumulated deductions, plus related interest.
- An employer may file an involuntary disability or superannuation application on behalf of their employee
- Benefit depends on the type of benefit approved
Independent medical panel
- All disability applicants must be examined by a three-member independent medical panel appointed by PERAC.
- The applicant can choose to be examined by the physicians all at once or at separate appointments.
- The PERAC disability unit schedules the medical exams.
The panel must determine:
- if the injury or illness is permanent,
- If you are unable to perform the duties of your position as a result of the injury or illness, and
- For accidental disability - If the injury or illness was a direct cause of the injury or hazard sustained during the performance of your duties
- They must submit their findings in a written report
Medical panel timeline
Medical panel report
- Medical panel should meet within 60 days of being appointed by PERAC
- Applicant will be given 14 days notice of the scheduled examination
- Panel will report their findings to PERAC within 60 days of completing examination
- PERAC will forward properly completed medical report to retirement board within 5 days
- Retirement board will notify applicant of the report findings within 30 days
- A board can request further information or clarification from the medical panel.
Report denies disability retirement
If the report denies retirement for the disability claimed the retirement board can:
- Deny your disability application based on the report or,
- Request a new medical panel
- If PERAC does not schedule a new examination your application will be denied
Report permits disability retirement
If the report permits retirement based on the disability claimed your retirement board will:
- Determine whether to approve your application.
- A positive medical panel does not mean your application will be automatically approved.
Final application decisions
- A retirement board may hold a hearing on the application
- A hearing must be held upon your request
- If a hearing is scheduled, the retirement board must give you at least 30 days notice
- If your board approves your disability application, it must be sent to PERAC for final action
- PERAC must act on your application within 30 days of receiving it from the board
- PERAC will either approve the application or send it back to the board for further action
- If your board denies your application, they must advise you of your right to appeal the decision
Requirements after you are approved
Earned income limits
- As a disability retiree, you will have annual earned income limits regardless of the income source
- You must file an Annual Statement of Earned Income with PERAC
- You can only stop sending the statement when instructed by the PERAC Disability Unit
- Failure to file your Annual Statement of Earned Income could result in the termination of your benefits.
- Use our Earned Income Worksheet to calculate your allowable earnings
After retirement, you may need to undergo continual medical examinations, as determined by the PERAC Disability Unit. You must comply with these exams or risk losing your benefits:
- The Restoration to Service phase starts if you are approved to return to work after a CME or Rehabilitation.
- RTS must be approved by PERAC and recommended by PERAC appointed physicians.
- Disability retirees who return to work do not lose any creditable service during the time they were receiving disability benefits.
- Please refer to the Massachusetts Public Employee Guide to Disability Retirement - Regardless of the Date of Membership for more detailed information.