April 2013 Issue
March 28, 2013

TRS: Get the facts on disability retirement

Source: NYSUT United

Q: What should I do if I become disabled and can't continue to work?

A: There are many things to consider. The TRS publication If You Are No Longer Able to Work is posted online at www.nystrs.org and provides a comprehensive look at disability retirements, including eligibility, filing process, benefits and what to do if you become critically ill or injured.

For New York State Teachers' Retirement System members with a minimum of 10 years of credited service, there is permanent disability (meaning you are permanently and completely disabled for all employment). If approved by the TRS Disability Review Committee, you would then receive a disability pension for life.

The benefit is generally one-third of a member's final average salary. However, the benefit may be more or less depending on your age and service credit. For an estimate of your disability retirement benefit, check your most recent Benefit Profile or contact TRS at 800-348-7298, ext. 6010.

Under Tiers 3-6, the service requirement is waived if the disability resulted from an accident sustained in the performance of your teaching duties. You must be totally and permanently disabled from all employment to qualify for and continue to receive a benefit. Employment of any type may jeopardize your disability retirement. In addition, it's important to note you must file a disability application within 12 months of the last date you were on the payroll.

Q: What happens if I am eligible for a disability pension, begin collecting and then later become healthy enough to return to work? Can I return to work?

A: Of course each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis. However, after checking with TRS and NYSUT counsel, we would argue that when a TRS member's disability retirement is rescinded due to improved health, that TRS member should be placed on a preferred eligibility list as of the effective date of his or her disability retirement.

Q: A family member who was receiving a NYSTRS pension has died, do I have to do anything?

A: The death of a retired member or beneficiary should be reported to TRS to stop payments and process death benefits. The following information is needed: Member/beneficiary name; Social Security number; date of death; name, address and relationship of the survivor to contact; name, address and telephone number of the person handling the estate.