March 2012 Issue
February 21, 2012

ERS: Some facts on disability retirement benefits

Source: NYSUT United

Consider the following scenario: Your health is deteriorating to the point where your doctor has suggested that you think about retiring. If there comes a time when you can no longer work because of a permanent physical or mental condition, as a member of the New York State Employees' Retirement System (ERS), you may be eligible to receive a disability retirement benefit from us.

Although ordinary and accidental disability benefits are available to most ERS members, the benefits — along with the eligibility and filing requirements — vary depending on a member's tier and retirement plan. With 10 or more years of service credit, you can apply for an ordinary (non-job-related) disability benefit. However, if you become disabled due to a job-related accident, there's no minimum service credit requirement.

Applying for disability benefits may seem complicated, and the approval process can take some time. The following tips can make the process smoother:

  • Meet the filing requirements. File your disability retirement application while you are still on your employer's payroll, or as soon as possible after you stop receiving your salary. You can refer to your plan booklet to learn what the filing requirements are; applications are available on our website.
  • Make sure we have your medical documentation. Remind all the health care providers you listed on your application to send us their paperwork in a timely manner. Incomplete or insufficient information may delay the process.

Q: What happens after I file my disability retirement application?

A: We will review your application to make sure it meets the filing and eligibility requirements. If it does, we will then request medical reports from the doctors, hospitals and treatment facilities you listed on your application. We may also ask you to make an appointment with a physician provided by the retirement system. After this necessary medical information has been compiled, a board reviews it and recommends either approval or denial of your disability application.

Q: If I am approved for disability benefits, when will my date of retirement be?

A: We will establish your date of retirement (DOR) as either the day after your last day of paid service or the date we received your disability retirement application, whichever is later. In most cases, we cannot establish a DOR until your employer notifies us of your last day of paid service. Once we determine your DOR, we will send you and your employer letters acknowledging your retirement and confirming your DOR.

Q: What happens if my disability retirement application is denied?

A: You may request an administrative hearing and redetermination within four months from the date of denial. This gives you an opportunity to provide additional evidence to support your request for disability benefits.

Q: How can I get more information?

A: For a basic understanding of disability retirement benefits, visit If you are considering filing for a disability retirement, contact us at 866-805-0990 to speak with a representative.