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Applying for a SERS Disability Retirement Benefit

The State Employees’ Retirement Code requires that you apply for disability retirement benefits while you are still employed; that is, you are still actively working, on paid leave, or on leave without pay.  You may terminate your employment any time after you apply without jeopardizing your disability retirement benefit application; however, you must apply for disability retirement benefits before you terminate State service to be eligible.  The disability application should not be filed more than 60 days prior to the effective date of retirement.  There is no age limit for applying for disability retirement. 
If you feel that you are unable to perform your current job and that you meet the qualifications for disability retirement, please contact your Retirement Counselor at 1-800-633-5461 for the medical forms that must be completed by your physician before an application for disability benefits will be reviewed. Your counselor will help you complete the application and submit your forms with the medical report to SERS.

Step 1 - Contact Your Retirement Counselor at 1-800-633-5461
Your Retirement Counselor will prepare an Estimate of Benefits and provide you with a SERS Disability Medical Report (SERS-144) form to be completed by your doctor.  Your medical information must be accurate and complete.  In order to provide current information, medical reports should be received no later than 60 days from the date of your most recent medical examination.   
Step 2 - Meet with Your Retirement Counselor
Prior to your retirement counseling session, you should review your Estimate of Benefits.  At this pre-retirement counseling session, you and your retirement counselor will discuss the retirement benefits to which you are entitled, as outlined in your Estimate of Benefits; the retirement benefit payment options available to you; your eligibility, if any, to purchase prior service credit; the tax liability of your disability retirement payments; availability of retiree health coverage, etc. 
If before signing your application for disability retirement benefits, you need additional counseling appointments to better understand the decisions you are facing, do not hesitate to schedule additional appointments.  You should not sign any retirement documents until you fully understand the reasoning behind the decisions you are making.  Alternatively, you may complete your retirement documents whenever you feel that you are prepared to do so, regardless of the number of retirement counseling sessions.
Your spouse, financial planner or anyone you prefer may attend your counseling sessions with you.  
In most cases, counseling is performed in person and is the preferred method of counseling; however, if circumstances prohibit this, a telephone counseling session may be scheduled.
Step 3 - Complete the Application for Disability Retirement
You should obtain from your employer, a copy of your current job description including your "essential job functions" and submit that description as part of your application.  Your application will also include several forms you will need to complete with your Retirement Counselor and any documentation that supports your disabling condition.
  • Disability Retirement Application - Vested (SERS-103) or Disability Retirement Application - Non-Vested (SERS-103N) - Most SERS members must be vested in the system or eligible to receive a SERS monthly pension (because they have at least five years of credited service) in order to apply for disability retirement benefits.  In most cases, members will need to complete the SERS-103 form; however, State Police and enforcement officers may still be eligible to apply for disability retirement benefits even if they are not vested in the system and will need to complete the SERS-103N form.
  • Medicare Eligibility & REHP Coverage Acknowledgement (SERS-286) - this form is available on the SERS website as a sample only so that you are aware of the information you will be asked to provide when you complete the form with your Retirement Counselor.
  • Direct Deposit of Annuity Payments (SERS-123) form or Member's Validation: Electronic Direct Deposit of Annuity Payments (SERS-123A) form - The SERS-123 form can be completed on this website, printed, signed and included with your application or you can get a copy from your Retirement Counselor.  For those members employed with an agency under the Governor's jurisdiction who have direct deposit established on the SAP/IES payroll system, your Retirement Counselor can print a SERS-123A form with your SAP/IES direct deposit information preprinted on the form. 
  • Link to the SERS website for a federal tax Annuitant Federal Income Tax Withholding (SERS-W-4P) form - through this SERS form, you tell SERS how much money, if any, you wish to have withheld from your monthly annuity payments for the payment of federal income tax. 
Additional SERS Disability Retirement Benefit forms are available in
the "Forms" section of this website and from your Retirement Counselor.
Possible Supporting Documentation:
  • History of visits to the physician, hospital, rehabilitation center, etc.
  • Hospital Records, if any
  • Physical and diagnostic findings of attending physician(s)
  • Clinical study reports, if any
  • Laboratory and special study reports
  • Report of x-rays as read by examining physician, if appropriate
  • EKG tracings, if appropriate
  • Diagnosis and treatment/therapy responses
  • The physician’s explanation/evaluation of limitations on your ability to perform the duties listed on the current job description
Step 4 - Independent Medical Examiners Review Your Application
Independent medical examiners retained by SERS will review the medical information provided by you and your physicians.  The medical examiners may request additional information.  Based upon the recommendation of the independent medical examiners, the SERS Board will approve or deny your application for disability retirement benefits. SERS will notify you in writing of its decision.
If your application is denied, a notification letter will inform you of your right to appeal and the appeal procedure.
To learn more about the appeals process, see:
If you application is approved, you will be notified if it is deemed a permanent or temporary disability. Generally, if you receive permanent disability benefits, you will not be required to submit future medical reports; however, SERS reserves the right to request additional medical reports under special circumstances. If you receive temporary disability benefits, you will be required to provide medical reports every 6 to 12 months for the Medical Examiners to review and determine whether you are still disabled. You will be required to provide this information until the Medical Examiners determine either that your disability is permanent or that you are no longer disabled. If you do not provide the required medical reports at the time they are requested, your monthly payments will stop. Your payments will resume only after you submit the required medical reports and the Medical Examiners determine that you are still disabled.
Note: It is your responsibility to provide medical documentation to prove that you continue to be disabled.
If your disability is discontinued, disability payments will stop. One of the following things may then happen:
  • You may request to return to State employment.
  • If you retired on or after July 1, 2001 with 5 or more years of service credit or before July 1, 2001 with 10 or more years of service credit and do not return to State service, you may change your benefit to a "regular" retirement annuity.
  • If you retired on or after July 1, 2001 with less than 5 years of service or before July 1, 2001 with less than 10 years of service, you can receive a refund of your remaining Accumulated Deductions, if any. The refund will be the amount of your Accumulated Deductions when you retired, less 1/3 of the amount you received in disability payments.
For more information, please contact your Retirement Counselor at 1-800-633-5461.
Step 5 - Processing of Retirement Benefit
Once SERS receives your final payroll information from your employer, your disability retirement benefit will be calculated and SERS will direct the State Treasury to issue payment. At the same time, SERS will send you a letter explaining your payments. Normally, it takes four to six weeks from the time SERS receives your final payroll information before you receive a payment.

Last published: 08/03/2011 09:39 AM