Occupational Disability FAQs
- 1. Do disability benefits come out of my retirement contributions?
- 2. Does my disability affect my pension benefit amount?
- 3. Do I notify SERS if I need a disability application packet?
- 4. Should I notify SERS when I return to work?
- 5. How long will it take to receive my first disability check?
- 6. Can I work and still receive a disability benefit from SERS?
- 7. What is the difference between occupational disability benefits and non-occupational disability benefits?
- 8. Once I begin receiving disability benefits, will I receive an increase in my benefits?
- 9. Why do I need a copy of my birth certificate to receive disability benefits?
- 10. What impact does Worker's Compensation benefits have on my SERS Occupational Disability benefits?
1. Do disability benefits come out of my retirement contributions?
No. In fact, each month you receive a disability benefit, you also accumulate additional retirement contributions and service credit.
2. Does my disability affect my pension benefit amount?
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.
3. Do I notify SERS if I need a disability application packet?
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.
4. Should I notify SERS when I return to work?
Yes, it is your responsibility to notify SERS if you return to work or if your Workers' Compensation benefits cease. Failure to do so may lead to an overpayment of benefits.
5. How long will it take to receive my first disability check?
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.
6. Can I work and still receive a disability benefit from SERS?
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.
7. What is the difference between occupational disability benefits and non-occupational disability benefits?
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.
8. Once I begin receiving disability benefits, will I receive an increase in my benefits?
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.
9. Why do I need a copy of my birth certificate to receive disability benefits?
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.
10. What impact does Worker's Compensation benefits have on my SERS Occupational Disability benefits?
SERS occupational disability benefits equal 75% of the employee's salary or final average compensation for Tier 1 members, whichever is higher, and 75% of the employee's final average compensation for Tier 2 members. Benefits must be paid under Workers' Compensation in order to qualify for SERS occupational disability benefits. SERS Occupational disability benefits are offset by any benefits a member may receive from Workers’ compensation.
- 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, and expenses documented in the Workers' Compensation contract 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.