If a disability forces someone to stop working, he or she may be unsure of available disability benefits. In Indiana, some employees may be eligible for the Public Employees' Retirement Fund (PERF) and Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS). Indiana employees who may be eligible for these benefits include those working at public universities, school corporations, municipalities, and state agencies.
Disability Benefits under PERF
As of January 2014, the PERF Employer Handbook is available online at the following link: http://www.in.gov/inprs/2416.htm#. According to the PERF Employer Handbook, employees are eligible to apply for disability benefits if they meet the following criteria:
Have five or more years of creditable service under PERF before the termination of salary, or employer provided income protection benefits (disability insurance), or leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or worker's compensation benefits,
Are determined by the Social Security Administration to be disabled, and
Are receiving salary, or employer provided income protection benefits, or are on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as of the onset date established by the Social Security Administration.
If an employee is eligible for PERF disability benefits under the above criteria, they should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. As mentioned in the first requirement, the employee may first receive "employer provided income protection benefits" or disability insurance. Employer provided income protection benefits differ from PERF disability benefits and requires a separate disability application - usually this application should be filed as soon as the employee stops working due to disability.
Even though the PERF Employer Handbook sets out the above criteria, Indiana Code actually lists an additional requirement once PERF disability benefits have been approved: "at least once each year until the member reaches age 65, PERF verifies the member's continued disability." Ind. Code 5-10.2-4-6. If an employee is approved for disability benefits, then they will continue to receive benefits until age 65 so long as the Social Security Administration continues to approve disability and the employee provides the appropriate information to PERF.
Retirement Benefits Under PERF and INPRS
Retirement benefits under PERF and INPRS are determined by age and creditable service. According to the PERF Employer Handbook, there are three categories of employees who may be eligible for retirement benefits:
Category one: age 65 and 10 or more years of creditable service under PERF
Category two: age 60 and 15 or more years of creditable service under PERF
Category three: age 55, and
their age at retirement plus total years of creditable service under PERF equal 85 or more.
In order to be eligible for un-reduced retirement benefits under category three, the person must be at least age 55 and have enough service credit to reach the Rule of 85 (30 years of creditable service if the person is 55). Age is usually not at dispute since a valid birth certificate can easily establish the employee's age. Most disputes arise over the employee's years of "creditable service."
Contact O'Ryan Law Firm
When an Indiana employee is eligible for disability or retirement benefits under PERF, he or she should immediately contact the appropriate Human Resources specialist in order to begin their application(s). If your claim for disability or retirement benefits under PERF has been denied and you believe that a wrong decision was made, contact the O'Ryan Law Firm. We can review your claim for disability or retirement benefits under PERF.