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james H. Sandman, P.C.

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Social Security Disability

Accidental Disability Retirement

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If you are a public employee, that is, if you are employed by a state, county, city, town or public agency, you usually do not contribute into the federal social security system. Rather, your retirement contributions are made to that state, county, city, town or agency with benefits to be made at a later agreed-upon retirement date. If, however, you are so employed and are injured in the course of your employment, you may be entitled to a disability pension if you are unable to perform the essential requirements of your job as a result of your injury.

If you qualify for an accidental disability retirement pension, you will receive 72% of your pre-injury average weekly wage. In order to qualify for such a disability pension, you must file an application within two years of the date of your injury unless you are already collecting worker’s compensation benefits. You must also appear before a medical panel of three physicians who are asked to decide: 1) whether you are disabled from your job, 2) whether the disability is permanent, and 3) whether the medical condition is a result of an incident, a series of incidents or a hazard undergone on the job.

Not all incidents are compensable. For example, if you have become injured while traveling to or from your job, fallen in your employer’s parking lot, or hurt yourself while at lunch or on break, you will not be entitled to benefits. It is your burden of proof to show that you were actually in the performance of your job duties when you were injured. Often times, an evidentiary hearing before your retirement board is necessary to secure your right to retirement benefits. If you do qualify and subsequently receive disability retirement benefits, you may be entitled to them for the rest of your life.

If you have been injured at your job and determined by your appropriate agency to be disabled, you are nonetheless allowed to work a different job, just not your own. In other words, you do not have to be totally disabled for all employment, just for the job which you held. Many individuals who have suffered a work-related injury have collected both worker’s compensation benefits and accidental disability retirement benefits at the same time. The benefits combined cannot exceed 72% of the pre-injury average weekly wage. Others have felt it best to maximize their financial interests by resolving their worker’s compensation claims by way of a lump sum settlement, continue collecting their ADR benefits, and returning to work for a new employer in a less physically stressful or demanding job. Most of the above employers will now allow the injured worker to pay a percentage, e.g., 15%, of their lump sum worker’s compensation settlement and begin collecting the full 72% entitlement immediately. In either event, you, the injured employee, would be entitled to ongoing medical coverage for your work-related disability provided the treatment you receive is reasonable and necessary.

As you can see, the road to obtaining your disability retirement benefits can be quite difficult, complex and challenging. The assistance of a seasoned attorney is necessary to protect your rights. The Law Offices of James H. Sandman, P. C., are experienced in handling disability retirement claims and will provide you with maximum effort and professional care throughout your proceedings.

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