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   Disability Application Packets Section   

Applying for Disability

This section provides you with all of the information you need to apply for Disability Benefits from State Employees' Retirement System, all in one convenient location.

You must meet all of the requirements for the disability benefit you are applying for. Each disability requirements are listed below.

Requirements

  • Must have 18 months of creditable service at the time you are removed from the payroll;
  • A medical leave of absence must be granted by your agency;
  • The cause of the injury or illness is not work related;

Q: Do disability benefits come out of my retirement contributions?

A: No. Disability benefits you receive do not come out of your retirement contributions. In fact, each month you receive a disability benefit, you also accumulate additional retirement contributions and service credit.

Q: Does my disability affect my pension benefit amount?

A: During the period when an individual is receiving disability benefits, contributions and service credit are credited to the account of the benefit recipient. This will increase the pension benefit amount.

Q: Do I notify SERS if I need a disability application packet?

A: It is your responsibility to notify SERS when you need an application packet. You can call SERS directly or your agency's Retirement Coordinator can help you with your request.

Q: Should I notify SERS when I return to work?

A: Yes, it is your responsibility to notify SERS if you return to work. Failure to do so may lead to an overpayment of benefits.

Q: How long will it take to receive my first disability check?

A: From the time you stop working, it takes six to eight weeks for you to receive your first disability payment. It is important to return your application packet to SERS as soon as possible. No action can be taken on your claim until this information is received.

Q: Can I work and still receive a disability benefit from SERS?

A: You cannot work for the State of Illinois and receive disability benefits from SERS. You can work outside of state employment and earn up to $3,660.00 in any calendar quarter without interfering with your disability benefit. This amount changes periodically and SERS will update you as changes occur. If you earn in excess of the earning limit, disability benefits will be interrupted and may also be terminated as well as creating an overpayment.

Q: What is the difference between occupational disability benefits and non-occupational disability benefits?

A: Occupational disability benefits are paid when you become disabled due to a work-related injury or illness. You must receive benefits under the Workers' Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act to be eligible for occupational disability benefits. Non-occupational disability benefits are paid when your disability wasn't caused by your job duties.

Q: Once I begin receiving disability benefits, will I receive an increase in my benefits?

A: Each non-occupational disability benefit paid by SERS is increased 7% on January 1 after four years of being granted the benefit. On each January 1 following the date of the 7% increase, there is a 3% benefit increase.

Example: You started receiving a disability benefit of $1,000 per month on July 15, 1999. This amount is reduced by $500.00 due to Worker's Compensation Benefits. A 7% increase of $70 would be applied January 1, 2014 (7% of the gross benefit). On January 1, 2015 you would receive an increase of $17.10 (3% of $570.00). Each year thereafter the 3% would be compounded to the net benefit.

Q: Why do I need a copy of my birth certificate to receive disability benefits?

A: A copy of your birth certificate assures that we have the right date of birth. This information is used to help determine how long you may be eligible for disability benefits.

Q: How much will my non-occupational disability benefit be?

A: Non-occupational disability benefit equals 50% of your final average compensation on the date you are removed from the payroll.

Q: If I pay into Social Security and am over 65, is my SERS non-occupational disability benefit reduced by the amount payable from Social Security.

A: If you are over age 65, your SERS benefit is reduced by the amount of the benefit you receive from the SSA. Example: If your SERS non-occupational disability benefit is $1000 monthly, you are eligible for a Social Security benefit of $600 monthly. Your net SERS benefit is $400 monthly.

Q: What is the process for determining if I am eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

A: You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if your disability lasts more than twelve months. SERS contracts with a firm specializing in assisting members through the Social Security disability application process. If your case is accepted, you will be contacted to begin the application process. If your case is not accepted, and you remain disabled for more than twelve months, you must apply directly to Social Security for disability benefits. SERS will give you specific directions about the filing process.

Q: What impact will my claim for SSA disability have on any SERS benefits I'm receiving?

A: While your disability claim is reviewed by the Social Security Administration, you will receive full SERS benefits. If you become eligible for Social Security benefits, your SERS disability benefit is reduced by the amount of your Social Security benefit. You must repay SERS the Social Security benefits paid to you during the review period. This lump sum repayment should be made when you receive your initial Social Security payment.

Q: Will future increases in my Social Security disability benefit be subtracted from my SERS benefit?

A: No. Your SERS benefit will be reduced only by the initial monthly award amount from the Social Security Administration. Any annual increases or other types of benefits will not be subtracted.

Q: How long can I receive non-occupational disability benefits if I have a long-term illness?

A: Your non-occupational disability benefits will stop when one of the following occurs:

* You exhaust one-half of your credited service.
* Your disability ends.
* You resume employment.
* You reach age 65 (if your disability begins at age 60 or older, benefits are payable for up to five years).

Q: Is there a 30-day waiting period before my non-occupational disability benefits can begin?

A: Yes, but your sick or vacation time can be used to fulfill this waiting period. If you have enough sick and vacation time to fulfill the waiting period, you begin accruing benefits when you are removed from the payroll.

Q: Do I have to use my sick and vacation time to qualify for non-occupational disability benefits?

A: Before non-occupational disability benefits can begin, you must deplete all sick time. You do not have to use any vacation time or personal days.

Requirements

  • Must be a member of State Employees' Retirement System at the time of the accident or injury;
  • The accident or injury is work related
  • You must receive benefits from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act;

Occupational Disability Packet


Q: Do disability benefits come out of my retirement contributions?

A: No. In fact, each month you receive a disability benefit, you also accumulate additional retirement contributions and service credit.

Q: Does my disability affect my pension benefit amount?

A: During the period when an individual is receiving disability benefits, contributions and service credit are credited to the account of the benefit recipient. This will increase the pension benefit amount.

Q: Do I notify SERS if I need a disability application packet?

A: It is your responsibility to notify SERS when you need an application packet. You can call SERS directly or your agency's Retirement Coordinator can help you with your request.

Q: Should I notify SERS when I return to work?

A: Yes, it is your responsibility to notify SERS if you return to work. Failure to do so may lead to an overpayment of benefits.

Q: How long will it take to receive my first disability check?

A: From the time you stop working, it takes six to eight weeks for you to receive your first disability payment. It is important to return your application packet to SERS as soon as possible. No action can be taken on your claim until this information is received.

Q: Can I work and still receive a disability benefit from SERS?

A: You cannot work for the State of Illinois and receive disability benefits from SERS. You can work outside of state employment and earn up to $3,660.00 in any calendar quarter without interfering with your disability benefit. This amount changes periodically and SERS will update you as changes occur.

Q: What is the difference between occupational disability benefits and non-occupational disability benefits?

A: Occupational disability benefits are paid when you become disabled due to a work-related injury or illness. You must receive benefits under the Workers' Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act to be eligible for occupational disability benefits. Non-occupational disability benefits are paid when your disability wasn't caused by your job duties.

Q: Once I begin receiving disability benefits, will I receive an increase in my benefits?

A: Each occupational disability benefit paid by SERS is increased 7% on January 1 after four years of being granted the benefit. On each January 1 following the date of the 7% increase, there is a 3% benefit increase.

Example: You started receiving a disability benefit of $1,000 per month on July 15, 1999. This amount is reduced by $500.00 due to Social Security disability benefits (non-occupational disability) or Workers' Compensation Benefits (occupational disability). A 7% increase of $70 would be applied 1-1-2004 (7% of the gross benefit). On 1-1-2005 you would receive an increase of $17.10 (3% of $570.00). Each year thereafter the 3% would be compounded to the net benefit.

Q: Why do I need a copy of my birth certificate to receive disability benefits?

A: A copy of your birth certificate assures that we have the right date of birth. This information is used to help determine how long you may be eligible for disability benefits.

Q: What impact does Worker's Compensation benefits have on my SERS Occupational Disability benefits?

A: SERS occupational disability benefits equal 75% of the employee's salary or their final average compensation, whichever is higher. Benefits must be paid under Workers' Compensation in order to qualify for SERS occupational disability benefits.
* If the employee is receiving Total Temporary Disability (TTD) benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act, the amount of the TTD payment is subtracted from the SERS occupational disability benefits.

* If Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) is paid as a lump sum, this amount is broken down and subtracted as follows:
* PPD (SERS uses 60 % of the average weekly wage) times 52 (weeks) divided by 12 (months). This equals the amount of the monthly offset from SERS occupational disability benefits. Subtract attorney fees, expenses documented in the Workers' Compensation contract, and future medical payments from the total payment. This is the total amount of offset that will take place.
* To determine how long the offset will apply, divide the monthly offset into the total amount of the award/settlement. Once the total amount of the award/settlement has been offset, the employee is eligible to receive the full occupational disability benefits, assuming the other qualifying criteria is met.
* In addition, when SERS' occupational disability benefits are paid, the employee's SERS account will be credited with contributions and service time. It is important to keep in mind the Workers' Compensation Commission creates no liability on SERS other than to evaluate the disability as an occupational disability claim.

Q: Do I automatically receive disability benefits from SERS if I receive Workers' Compensation Benefits?

A: No. Your Workers' Compensation benefits determine the type of disability you may receive from SERS. Workers' Compensation benefits do not automatically qualify you for SERS occupational disability benefits. You will still need to meet the qualifying criteria.

Q: What impact will Social Security disability benefits have on my SERS occupational disability benefits?

A: Social Security disability benefits have no impact on SERS occupational disability benefits.

Q: What if my claim for Workers' Compensation benefits is denied?

A: SERS offers temporary disability benefits if your claim for Workers' Compensation benefits is denied and you appeal that denial with the Workers' Compensation Commission. Temporary disability benefits can be paid until:

* You are paid disability benefits for one-half of your eligible SERS service time.
* You reach age 65 if your disability began prior to your 60th birthday.
* Five years expires if you became disabled after age 60.
* You receive a determination on your claim for benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act by the Workers' Compensation Commission.

Q: What if my Workers' Compensation Total Temporary Disability benefits terminated?

A: If the Workers Compensation benefit you are receiving is terminated, your Occupational Disability benefit with SERS will also stop. However you may be eligible for a temporary disability benefit if;

* SERS determines that you are still disabled.
* You have at least 18 months of credited service with SERS.
* You submit the required forms to SERS.
* You have filed an appeal with the Workers' Compensation Commission and requested an emergency hearing under the 19b1 of the Workers' Compensation Act.
* You have served a 150-day waiting period, or received a decision from the Workers' Compensation Commission on your emergency hearing.
* You have submitted a written request for a Temporary benefit.

In accordance with state law, the Department of Insurance (DOI) is to annually determine certain annuity limitations for use in benefit determinations by the Retirement Systems and Pension Funds operating under the Illinois Pension Code. The calculations include:

The retirement Cost of Living Adjustment ("COLA") applicable to Tier 2 participants, and The annual salary maximum applicable to Tier 2 participants.

The annual increase to be used in determining the COLA for Tier 2 is derived from the change in the Consumer Price Index-Urban ("CPI-U") for the 12 months ending with the September proceeding each November 1. State statute requires that the DOI provide these calculations to impacted Retirement Systems and pension Funds by November 1 of each year.

For the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) the annuity COLA and the increase in the annual salary maximum equals the lesser of 3% or half the CPI-U. The following table outlines the COLA to be applied and the maximum salary for Tier 2 annuity purposes by calendar year.

Calendar Year
Prior Year CPI-U
1/2 CPI-U
 
2011
 
 
2012
3.90%
1.95%
2013
2.00%
1.00%
2014
1.20%
0.60%
2015
1.70%
0.85%
2016
0.00%
0.00%
2017
1.50%
0.75%
2018
2.20%
1.10%
2019
2.30%
1.15%
2020
1.7%
0.85%

Calendar Year
Tier 2 COLA or Annuity increase
Tier 2 Annual Earnings,Salary or Wages Maximum
 
2011
3.00%
$106,800.00
2012
1.95%
$108,882.60
2013
1.00%
$109,971.43
2014
0.60%
$110,631.26
2015
0.85%
$111,571.63
2016
0.00%
$111,571.63
2017
0.75%
$112,408.42
2018
1.10%
$113,664.91
2019
1.15%
$114,951.83
2020
0.85%
$115,928.92

      

 

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  • Springfield, Illinois 62704
  • Phone: 217-785-7444
  • Fax: 217-785-7019
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