The primary purpose of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) of Ohio is to provide a monthly retirement benefit to Ohio’s public educators. However, some teachers become disabled prior to reaching retirement age and thus need to file for disability benefits. In order to qualify for disability benefits under STRS Ohio, you must have a disabling illness or injury that prevents you from performing your most recent job duties. The condition should be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
STRS Ohio has two disability benefit programs for members of the Defined Benefit Plan: disability allowance and disability retirement. Teachers who were members of STRS Ohio on or prior to July 29, 1992 are eligible to participate in either program. Teachers who became members of STRS Ohio after July 29, 1992 are only eligible for the disability allowance program. Members enrolled in STRS Ohio’s Defined Contribution Plan are ineligible for disability benefits.
In order to qualify for disability allowance benefits, STRS Ohio members must not be receiving service retirement benefits. Those who were members on June 30, 2013 must have at least five years of service credit and submit an application within two years of the last date of earned service. Those who became new STRS Ohio members after July 1, 2013 must have at least 10 years of service credit and submit an application within one year of the last date of earned service. The one- to two-year application deadline doesn’t apply if the State Teachers Retirement Board determines that the member was physically or mentally incapacitated and thus unable to apply for disability benefits. An alternative to receiving disability allowance is to terminate your employment and withdraw your account, though this cancels your STRS Ohio membership, accumulated service credit, and eligibility for STRS Ohio retirement benefits.
In order to qualify for disability retirement benefits, STRS Ohio members must not be receiving service retirement benefits. Moreover, they must be younger than age 60 when filing their application and stop teaching before reaching the age of 60. In addition, members must have at least five years of service credit and submit an application within two years of the last date of earned service. The two-year deadline to file an application doesn’t apply if the State Teachers Retirement Board determines that the member was physically or mentally incapacitated and thus unable to apply for disability.
To initiate the disability application process, a member must contact STRS Ohio to request a disability application packet, which includes the following forms:
Obtaining legal representation from the very beginning of the application process is recommended. An attorney who is knowledgeable about the STRS Ohio disability benefits program can help you fill out all of the necessary paperwork and gather and present all of the required evidence to maximize your chances of winning benefits.
If you are thinking about applying for disability benefits or have already filed and need some assistance, discuss your case with one of the experienced attorneys at Jones Law Group. Call (614) 545-9998 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
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