Your Options as a Public Employee When You Can’t Work

Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: August 31st, 2015 | Categories: State Employee Disability (STRS, OPERS, PERS, OP&F)

Public Employees have programs available to provide support and assistance when they are unable to work.  Ohio public employees who are eligible can apply for benefits from multiple sources if something prevents them from working. When the original Social Security act was created in 1935, state workers were not covered under the act.  Over the years, the states themselves created various plans to offer coverage to public employees.  State public employee disability programs include the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), the School Employees Retirement System (SERS), and the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS).

State Teachers Retirement System (STRS)

The State Teachers Retirement Fund of Ohio was created to provide a monthly retirement benefit to Ohio’s public educators.  This also serves as disability support should a teacher become disabled before reaching the age of retirement.  Much like Social Security disability available to those in the private sector, STRS requires those attempting to collect disability benefits to have a disabling injury or illness that prevents the performance of their most recent job duties.  When filing for disability benefits, the disabling illness or injury should be something expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.  

Teachers who wish to qualify must not receive any other service retirement benefits.  If you are curious whether or not you qualify for the STRS Ohio Disability benefits, speak with disability benefits attorneys who can review your case.  Each situation is different, so it’s important to take advantage of free consultations and work with experienced attorneys who can advocate for your disability benefits. 

The School Employees Retirement System (SERS)

The School Employees Retirement System provides benefits to those who work in education but are non-teaching.  It is a statewide benefits plan that provides teaching disability benefits to employees who work in public schools, vocational schools, and community schools to name a few.  Much like the Sate Teachers Retirement System (STRS), SERS will only provide benefits to those who are eligible. 

To be eligible for SERS disability benefits, you must have at least 5 years of service credit, be permanently disabled (physically or mentally), and the disability had to have occurred after becoming a member of SERS.  Review all the eligibility requirements with a disability benefits attorney.  Not only will an experienced attorney be able to review your specific situation and help find the best benefits to fit your job, the attorney will also be able to file an appeal on your behalf if your benefits application is denied. 

The Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS)

The Ohio Public Employee Retirement System, or Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), was established to provide disability benefits to public employees in the state of Ohio who are not receiving benefits from the other available programs.  To be eligible under OPERS, members must have a permanent disability that is expected to last for a continuous period of at least one year following the application for benefits.   Those with temporary disabilities do not qualify. 

In addition to the requirement that the disability be permanent, OPERS members must have at least 5 years of contributing service credit unless they are covered under the law enforcement division and become disabled due to an on-duty injury or illness.  In addition, to be eligible members must be off the payroll because a permanent disabling condition prevents them from performing their current job duties. 

To learn more about the eligibility requirements for benefits, speak with an attorney with experience working with the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System.   With an experienced advocate on your side, you can work hard to collect the benefits you deserve.  A disability benefits attorney can walk you through the application process and help advocate for your benefits and appeal should the initial application be denied.  It’s always better to work with an attorney to make sure all information is provided to those making the final decision on disability benefits

No matter which disability benefits system provides you with the support you need when you are unable to work, it is crucial to have knowledgeable, hard working attorneys on your side to advocate for the benefits available to you given your specific situation.  Many times documentation and specific information is needed to complete the application for benefits, and an experienced disability benefits attorney can help gather all necessary information so you can present a strong initial application.  Rather than struggle to compile all the information yourself, turn to those with the requisite experience to help complete the needed forms and prepare a strong argument for STRS, SERS, and OPERS disability benefits.

If you have questions regarding your specific situation, contact a disability attorney in Columbus, Ohio.  Experienced attorneys will be able to review your file and help advocate for the disability benefits that fit your needs.  The Ohio disability attorneys at Jones Law Group in Columbus understand the complex benefits systems available to public employees, including the application process.  Our dedicated attorneys can help you obtain the benefits you deserve.  Call (614) 545-9998 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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