Will I Qualify for OPERS Disability Benefits?

A member who applies for a disability benefit through the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) is initially evaluated under an “own occupation disability standard.”  The “own occupation disability standard” is defined as an inability to perform your last public employment position due to physical and/or mental impairments.  Please note that the physical and/or mental impairments must last, or be expected to last, for a continuous period of 12 months.  The “own occupation disability standard” is reviewed on a yearly basis during the first three years an individual receives disability benefits. 

After three years, members will be evaluated under “any occupation standard.”  OPERS will terminate a member’s benefits based on the “any occupation standard” if it is determined that a member can perform the duties of any position which meets the following criteria:

a)      The position pays at least 75 percent of the salary of your last public employment;

b)       The position is reasonably found in the member’s regional job market;

c)        A position for which the member is qualified to do based on his/her education and    experience.

The “own occupation disability standard” is a lower threshold to meet in order to be awarded disability benefits because the OPERS review board is only comparing your abilities to perform one job.  It is more difficult for members to meet the “any occupation standard” because the OPERS board will see if the individual is capable to perform a wide variety of other positions. 

OPERS may extend the initial “own occupation standard” for an additional two years if the member agrees to rehabilitative services.  The Rehabilitation Services Program is designed to improve a member’s employability through clinical and vocational rehabilitation services.  More information on the Rehabilitative Services can be found here: https://www.opers.org/pubs-archive/leaflets/ISL-K.pdf#page=3.


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