Firefighters and police officers have our utmost respect and gratitude. Not only do they risk their lives on an almost daily basis to keep all of us safe, but they also risk facing personal injury at a much greater rate than the rest of us too. What happens when an injury sustained on the job keeps them from being able to continue their career?
Luckily, in Minnesota they can turn to the Public Employees Retirement Association, known also simply as PERA. This association not only covers employees for retirement benefits, but also for disability benefits. If a public employee becomes injured on the job, and if they qualify for benefits, they can draw a disability income under this plan.
Do you qualify for PERA disability benefits
The very first step before applying for benefits is to make sure that you qualify for them. According to PERA, you must meet the following conditions in order to qualify for benefits.
- Your disability must be expected to last for at least a full twelve month period.
- You must be an active public servant at the time you become disabled.
- You must be able to prove that you are unable to perform the duties that your position requires.
- Your application for benefits must be made within 18 months of ending your employment. (However, your disability must have occurred within your employment.)
- You must not be already drawing a PERA pension.
- You must not be 55 years of age or older with 20 years of service.
If you meet the above requirements, and qualify for benefits, then you need to make sure that you have everything you need in the way of documentation prior to submitting your application.
Filing for PERA duty disability is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it can get quite complicated. We highly recommend that you obtain the services of an attorney that can help you right from the very beginning of your claim to assist you in getting the benefits you deserve. Should you decide to go on your own, below is some information from MNPERA.org that can help you.
Get your employer on board
Unfortunately, most of the documentation you will need to make your application will require the assistance of others. First and foremost, you need to get the help of your employer. Your employer will need to provide two types of documentation.
- Evidence supporting the fact that you are unable to continue the duties of your job. They will need to verify your employment dates and status of any Worker’s Compensation claim, as well as provide all First Reports of Injury pertaining to your claim along with a complete job description for your position.
- They must also supply a report that confirms there is no work available at that agency that you are able to perform with your current disability.
Having a conversation with your employer and following up with them often during the application process can help the wheels move a bit faster and keep things progressing instead of being stalled. Making sure that your employer is on board with your application in the very beginning can make for a much smoother process.
Get your doctor on board
The next person you need assistance from is your personal physician. You will need medical reports to accompany your application proving your disability and inability to work. Talking with your doctor and getting their help up front is vital to a successful claim for benefits.
What PERA will need from you
You will need to provide proof of your age, along with documentation of any legal name changes that may have occurred from marriage, divorce, etc.
It is also possible that upon reviewing your application, PERA will request an independent medial evaluation. If they do, it is imperative that you follow all their directions to obtain that evaluation.
Again, while it is possible to apply for PERA duty disability on your own, consulting our office for assistance can help you get it right the first time.