Please note that new PORS disability eligibility standards will apply to all PORS disability retirement applications received by PEBA after December 31, 2013. Please familiarize yourself with the new standards and how they will affect you.
- Disability Retirement in General
- Who May Apply
- How to Apply
- Processing the Claim
- Effective Date
- Returning to Employment
Applications Received by PEBA on or before December 31, 2013
A PORS disability retirement benefit is determined on the basis of the number of years of credited service the member would have completed if the member remained in service until attaining age 55.
Applications Received by PEBA after December 31, 2013
The projection of service credit used to calculate a PORS disability retirement benefit will be limited to the service necessary to reach age 55 or 25 years of service credit, whichever is less.
Becoming disabled does not automatically qualify you for a disability retirement annuity; you must file an application and go through the review process. You must be “in service” with a covered employer in order to file an application for disability retirement benefits. You are considered “in service” if you have not yet retired from PORS and it has not been more than 90 days since you were last on the payroll of a covered employer. If PEBA does not receive your application while you are “in service,” you will not be eligible to receive any disability retirement benefits from PORS. Retired members who work for a covered employer, including TERI participants, are not eligible to apply for a disability retirement annuity.
In addition to being “in service,” you must also meet certain earned service requirements in order to apply for disability retirement benefits. If you are a Class Two member, you must have at least five years of earned service credit toward retirement unless your disability is the result of an injury arising out of and in the course of the performance of your job duties. If you are a Class Three member, you must have at least eight years of earned service credit toward retirement unless your disability is the result of an injury arising out of and in the course of the performance of your job duties.
Coordination with Other Benefits
You may arrange with your employer to make your retirement contributions through your employer if your disability requires you to be placed in an employer-approved leave status while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Doing so will ensure that you continue to earn retirement service credit during your workers’ compensation leave period. Do not wait to apply for a disability annuity until your workers’ compensation claim is finalized. Many workers’ compensation claims are often settled after covered employment has ended. If your disability claim is denied, the continuance of paying retirement contributions and earning retirement service credit may be important to your long-term retirement plans.
You should file your application for disability retirement as soon as you become disabled and while you are still “in service” with an employer covered by PORS. Either go to the Forms section of our website, or contact Customer Services at 803-737-6800, toll free at 800-868-9002 (within S.C. only), or use our online contact form, to obtain a disability retirement packet. When you file your disability retirement claim, please complete all of the forms in the disability retirement packet. You do not, however, need to include any medical records from your health care providers. If your disability retirement application is received by PEBA after you have already retired from PORS or more than 90 days after you terminate from all covered employment under PORS, you will not be eligible to apply for a disability retirement annuity.
Acknowledgement of Receipt
If you do not receive notification in the mail confirming PEBA’s receipt of your application within 10 days after submitting it, please contact PEBA. If you are eligible for service retirement when you become disabled, you may apply for a service retirement annuity and begin receiving a monthly annuity while awaiting determination of your disability claim. You will receive only one type of payment, so if your disability claim is approved, you will need to decide whether to continue to receive your service retirement annuity or to begin receiving a disability annuity. When filing for both service and disability retirement benefits, please note that your disability retirement application must be received before your service retirement date.
Your medical records will be obtained from your health care providers by our disability determination provider and evaluated to determine the severity and limiting effects of your physical or mental impairment. The determination to approve or deny your disability retirement claim is made by PEBA. If your claim is denied, you will have an opportunity to appeal the denial. Please allow a minimum of three months after all required documentation has been received from you, your employer, and your health care providers for your disability application to be processed. If you do not receive notification of PEBA’s decision within three months, please contact PEBA.
If your disability retirement claim is denied, you have one year from the date of the denial to file an administrative appeal. If the final agency determination upholds the denial, you have 30 days from the date of the final agency determination to appeal to the Administrative Law Court.
For All Applications
If your disability retirement claim is approved, the effective date for your annuity will be the 30th day after your application is received by PEBA or the day after your last day on your employer’s payroll, whichever is later.
Continuing Disability Review
A disability annuity, once approved, may be discontinued if:
• You regain a certain earning capacity; or
• Medical evidence indicates that you are no longer disabled; or
• Your disability annuity was not approved following a continuing disability review.
Periodic medical reexaminations may be required up to age 55. If PEBA determines that your disability annuity should cease because of an improvement in your medical condition, your annuity will stop the month of your scheduled continuing disability review or the month of PEBA’s decision, whichever is later.
For All Applications
If you are under age 55 and receiving a PORS disability annuity, you should report earnings from any gainful (public or private) employment to PEBA annually because there is an earnings limitation for all employment which is applied on a calendar-year basis. You may earn the difference between your adjusted average final compensation (AFC) at retirement and your disability annuity without affecting your annuity.
Your AFC may be adjusted each year for inflation for earnings limitation purposes only. This increase generally matches the percentage of the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). These adjustments affect the amount you can earn while receiving a disability annuity; however, they do not affect the amount of your annuity. You will receive a letter each February advising you of how much you can earn and requesting confirmation of your prior year’s earnings. You will have to repay any benefits that you received to which you were not entitled. If you earn more than the difference between your adjusted AFC and your disability annuity, your monthly annuity will be reduced or possibly canceled. If you return to work with an employer covered by one of the retirement systems administered by PEBA and your annual earnable compensation is equal to or greater than your adjusted AFC, your disability annuity ceases and you must become an active member of the system. After age 55, a disability retiree is subject to the same earnings limitation as a service retiree.