How to get Disability Retirement as a California State Employeemetzadmin
How to get Disability Retirement as a California State Employee
Individuals who are employed by the State of California and many other individuals who are employed as Peace Officers or individuals under the California Retirement Systems known as CalPERS have numerous ways of obtaining retirement for their employment with the State of California.
Individuals who are not considered custody persons have two potential retirements available to them:
- One is a “Medical Retirement” which is based on a non-industrial medical problem but which is severe enough to prevent the individual for continuing with employment.
- The other employment which is available is a “Length of Service Retirement” with CalPERS, also based on the fact that there is a specific amount of time that the individual has worked with the State of California.
For individuals who are considered “Custody” or “Peace Officers” there are three different types of retirement which are potentially available. One is the “Medical Disability” which involves an individual who can no longer perform their duties because of a medical problem. The second form of retirement is the “Length of Service Retirement” which is for individuals who have provided 20 years of service for the State of California as a Peace Officer and who have obtained the age of 50. The third type of retirement is known as “Industrial Disability Retirement” which is available to custody individuals both Peace Officers, Parole Agents and other individuals who have suffered injuries while on the job which are severe enough to prevent the individual from continuing employment in their position. These series of articles will go through the process of understanding and obtaining a retirement with the State of California.
The first issue that needs to be understood is that in order to obtain any retirement for an individual who is not considered a custody employee; the requirements are that the individual must work at least 5 years to become vested for retirement with the State of California. Likewise, the same issue applies to individuals who are working for agencies which are part of the PERS ( Public Employee Retirement System ).
If an individual who is not a custody employee does not work the requisite 5 years, the individual will not be able to obtain a retirement. Rather, in the event of a situation where the individual could no longer continue who has less than 5 year, the CalPERS system will refund any and all contributions to that person. If an individual has more than 5 years of service then the individual may become eligible for a medical retirement and/or a service retirement. As previously indicated, a “medical retirement” becomes available when the individual has developed a medical problem to which medical practitioners have indicated that the individual is no longer able to fulfill the duties of his position, and as such, may then request a “medical retirement” from the State of California. The retirement process does involve contacting PERS and advising of the medical problems which are the cause of the need for retirement. Likewise, the individual who has obtained age 50 and has had 20 years of service with the State of California would also be eligible for a “length of service” or “service retirement” from the State of California. This retirement is granted because of the age and length of time that the individual has spent with the State of California in their position.
The retirement proceeding would be the same in all cases. The individual must obtain a special packet for retirement from CalPERS; fill out the appropriate paperwork including the report from the treating physician and then submit the packet to CalPERS for the retirement.
The issue is different with individuals who are considered Custody, Correctional Officers or Parole Officers with the State of California.
Those individuals have three different types of retirement to them.
- First, which is the “Medical”, the individual must have 5 years of service with the State of California and then develop a medical problem which prevents that individual from being able to continue in the capacity they are in, and thus, allows them to submit for a medical retirement. The issue again requires a request of the California Public Employees Retirement System and completion of the necessary paperwork along with medical reporting from the treating physicians to substantiate the medical problem and the fact that the individual is not able to continue in their employment.
- The second is the “Length of Service”. That basically requires an individual to have 20 years of sercie and the 55 years of age at the time of retirement is requested. The individual is not required to submit medical forms; however, the individual is required to submit a packet through the Public Employees Retirement System along with certain elections that the indvidual must make. The retirement is immediate based on the fact that the individual is 50 years of age and has 20 years of service.
- The third type of retirement that a custody individual with the State of California can obtain is the “Industrial Disability Retirement”. This is a unique situation in which and individual having suffered an injury or injuries with the State of California is deemed unable to fulfill the substantial duties of their position and thus is entitled to request a retirement with the California Public Employees Retirement. The process is similar n that the individual must complete the application packet for retirement, but must also have medical reporting from the treating physician to substantiate not only the medical problem, but that it’s also considered industrial, and prevent the individual from completing the substantial activities of the employment.
Note that the concept of the substantial functions and duties of the employment is different than the Workers’ Compensation System. It means that although the individual can do some work in the position they must be unable to do the substantial functions of the position in order to obtain the retirement. Many individuals who are applying for the “industrial disability retirement” do not understand the substantiality requirements and are unable to explain it to the treating physician. The treating physician must be familiar with the duties of the position and be able to provide medical information of the medical problem and how it affects the ability of the individual to complete the substantial functions of their job. Workers’ Compensation doctors are not necessarily they key to obtaining a disability retirement. Instead, it’s the treating physician and the review of the position of the treating physician that determines this fact. Reporting from medical doctors in the Workers’ Compensation System can assist, but CalPERS requires an evaluation by the treating physician in order to process the application for “disability retirement”.
An individual who is looking at a potential retirement for “Length of Service” may also wish to look at the retirement for industrial disability causes, and should talk to a practitioner who is familiar with all the forms and types of retirements which are available with the State of California to better understand the system and to prepare for retirement whether it be for “Disability” and/or “Length of Service”.
CalPERS also provides information on retirement, although, they are not as specific and detailed as could be obtained from a practitioner who is familiar with the process.