Terms Service-connected Disability Eligible from 1st day of employment Must be permanently disabled Must have a direct causational link to the workplace Nonservice-connected Disability Must have at least 5 years of service (60 months) Must be permanently disabled No direct link to the workplace Service Retirement Concurrent with Disability Application Waive reinstatement rights
Workers’ Compensation provides different benefits from County Retirement: Temporary Disability Permanent Disability Rehab or supplemental job displacement benefit LACERA’s Board of Retirement (BOR) not bound by Workers’ Compensation; not party to Workers’ Compensation Decisions LACERA is separate, legal entity – findings made in Workers’ Compensation cases are not binding in County Retirement System LACERA grants only Permanent Incapacity Workers’ Compensation vs. Disability Retirement Law Comparison
Application Employee may fill out a Disability application or a Human Resources Professional may fill it out on the employees behalf. Disability packages can be found on lacera.com. You may download or order online.
Disability Retirement Package for Employees Disability Retirement Brochure Disability Retirement Eligibility and Application Instructions Application for Disability Retirement Physician Statement for Disability Retirement Taxability of a LACERA Disability Retirement Allowance Claims Against Third Parties Authorization to Obtain and Release Records
Disability Retirement Package for Employers Disability Retirement brochure Disability Retirement Eligibility and Application Instructions (Department version) Application for Disability Retirement
Discovery and Obtaining Records Records obtained prior to interviewing the employee: Medical/Psychiatric Records through TPA or private Personnel Records (cooperative effort with county departments) Performance Evaluations Grievance Filing/Internal Investigations Worker’s Compensation Files Benefit Awards Notice of Work Restrictions List of All Claims Filed Electronic Access Listing Third Party Administrator Assistance CAO Office Communication
Employee Interview Prepare a Disability Evaluation Summary Report The interview is conducted to obtain the following information: History of Injury/Illness Occupational History/Physical Requirements Light Duty/Accommodated Assignments Current Symptoms/Complaints Retroactive Recommendation
Witness Statements Investigator contacts supervisor and/or co-workers: Statements to verify the witnessing of injury/illness “Actual job duties” Physical requirements Frequency of movements Ability to perform duties Return-to-work Coordinator statements regarding accommodation
Medical Examination Send Medical Records and Summary Report to Panel Physician (Panel Physician Guidelines) The mechanism of injury Show history and track treatment rendered General medical history
Board Preparation Notify the Member/Attorney, in writing, of exam date Notify the Member/Attorney, in writing, of Board date Member/Attorney may attend the closed session, but he/she may not address the Board regarding the application
Processing Timeframes Minimum amount of time to process a disability application is 7 to 9 months This is based on a single claim of disability Extra time may be needed for extensive investigation or delays in obtaining medical evidence Additional medical specialties evaluations may also be required
Reasonable Accommodation Workers’ Compensation vs. Disability Retirement Workers’ Compensation (Form of Vocational Rehab ilitation ) In Worker’s Pre-Injury Job Class (Modified Work) In New Job Class (Alternative Work) Disability Retirement In Applicant’s Pre-Injury job class, therefore Applicant not Permanently Incapacitated In new job class, but only after found to be Permanently Incapacitated (re-employment plan pursuant to Section 31725.65)
Employee working within Reasonable Accommodation Workers’ Compensation Within worker’s job class (Modified Work) Employer may provide modification to applicant’s assignment or offer another assignment in job class Written offer If worker accepts offer, and accommodation is successful, a disability retirement application is avoided In new job class (Alternative Work) Employer provides permanent accommodation in new job class Written offer to worker Worker either returns to work or may file a disability application
Employee working within Reasonable Accommodation (cont’d) Disability Retirement In Applicant’s Pre-Injury job class, Applicant not considered Permanently Incapacitated In new job class, but only after found to be Permanently Incapacitated (re-employment plan pursuant to Section 31725.65) Board of Retirement (BOR) has fiduciary duty to independently investigate and determine availability of reasonable accommodation BOR decision not dependent on whether employer has actually offered accommodation to applicant BOR is a separate legal entity, empowered to make its own finding of fact
Employee working within Reasonable Accommodation (cont’d) Disability Retirement If BOR determines reasonable accommodation is available within applicant’s pre-injury job class: Applicant Is Not Permanently Incapacitated Disability Retirement Is Denied
Supplemental Disability Allowance (Salary Supplement) Why do we retain disabled employees in County Service? County Departments face critical budget cuts, layoffs, and hiring freezes. Salary Supplement is the process of retaining experienced, disabled employees in County positions.
Supplemental Disability Allowance Government Codes Sections 31725.5, 31725.6 and 31725.65 Applications are to be treated like any other application; the criteria is that the applicant must be found disabled from the ORIGINAL position
Also Known as Salary Supplement The Supplement Disability Allowance is commonly referred to as the Salary Supplement in LACERA member materials, including the Summary Plan Descriptions (Plan Books).
Section 31725.5 - Applies to nonservice-connected disability retirements only Section 31725.6 and/or 31725.65 - Applies to service-connected disability retirements only
Voluntary Demotion There are two options for Voluntary Demotion: 1. Demoted to lesser position, lesser salary, and no provisions to supplement for the pay cut. These cases will have the supplement start on either the date of application or the date of demotion per Section 31724. 2. Demoted to lesser position, with a Y-Rate, assigned at the time of demotion. Pay stays the same until disability is determined.
Conditions of Supplemental Disability Allowance Contingent on: The offer of a permanent position with a lower salary schedule which accommodates the employee’s permanent work restrictions The acceptance of this position by the employee Engaging the Process The Disability Retirement Services Division works closely with County Departments’ Human Resource managers and Return to Work Coordinators to facilitate a better awareness of the Salary Supplement options
Department’s Responsibilities Confirm the employee has applied for disability retirement benefits with the Salary Supplement Place the employee on a “Y”-Rate; pending the Board of Retirement’s action The employee’s salary remains unchanged during the disability retirement application process
LACERA’s Responsibilities Once the Board of Retirement takes action, the Department is notified and an effective date for the Salary Supplement is established If the application is denied, appeal rights are not affected
Member’s Future Earnings The calculation is based upon the member’s actual earnings at the time the benefit is granted. The calculation does not allow for future item raises and cost-of-living increases. The member can be promoted in the new position career chain. When the member receives a pay raise, it is reviewed against the original item number salary and the Salary Supplement is lowered accordingly. If the new item number salary exceeds the original position’s salary, the Salary Supplement stops.
SCD Supplemental Disability Allowance Calculation Deputy Sheriff I permanently demoted to Dispatcher: Previous position monthly salary = $6,077.36 NEW position monthly salary = $3,996.82 Difference in salary = $2,080.54 SCD Supplemental Retirement Allowance = $2,080.54 SCD Benefit if member retires (50% final comp) = $3,038.54
Q: To receive a Disability Retirement as a Prospective Member is there a time requirement? Yes, completion of two continuous years of active service after his or her most recent transfer date, or Earned five years of retirement service credit under Retirement Plan D after his or her most recent transfer date (Section 31494.5(e))
Q: When is a prospective transferee eligible for a SCD? A prospective Plan D transferee must satisfy one of two waiting periods in order to apply for a disability retirement 1. Complete two continuous years of active service after his or her most recent transfer date, or 2. Earn five years of retirement service credit under Retirement Plan D after his or her most recent transfer date (Section 31494.5(e))
Q: When is a prospective transferee eligible for a Nonservice-connected disability retirement? One is eligible to apply for a nonservice-connected disability under Plan D, regardless of the date of injury, once they have a minimum of five years of County service credit, and have met one of the Plan D service credit options previously listed
Q: Can a paid leave of absence be “active service”? A paid leave of absence or part-time work schedule is considered “active service,” unless “the leave of absence or part-time service is necessitated by a pre-existing disability, injury, or disease” (Section 31494.5(g)(1))
Q: To receive a Disability Retirement (NSCD or SCD) as an Open Window Transfer Member, is there any special time requirement? No. Since you must purchase all Plan E service at one time, a member is eligible for disability retirement once the contract is paid in full. The member will then become a Plan D member, with cumulative service credit beginning effective date of transfer.