Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Disability

If an active or former employee, participating in a MERS benefit experience an injury or illness that prevents them from working, they may need to apply for a disability retirement pension. Disability, whether duty or non-duty related, is defined as a physical or mental impairment that leaves them permanently incapable of performing their job.

The rules and requirements vary depending on what MERS plan they participate in.

I'd like disability information about:
Defined Benefit PlanDefined Contribution PlanHybrid PlanHealth Care Savings Program457 Program

 

Defined Benefit Plan

There are two types of MERS Defined Benefit Plan disability retirement: Non-duty disability and duty disability. Either the participant, or you as their employer may apply for disability retirement benefits, which are subject to approval by MERS. Applications must be filed within two years of your "termination" date — the last official day of work at your employer.

To apply for disability benefits:

  1. Complete and submit the Application for Disability Retirement (Form 51), or by calling the MERS Service Center at 800.767.6377.
    You will need to submit current medical records to MERS with your application, including two separate Physician's Statements. If your illness or injury was a result of a work-related cause you will need to include a copy of Employer's Basic Report of Injury and all documents relating to worker's compensation. Please review the instructions on the form for further details.
  2. Your application, and any medical documentation, will be evaluated by Managed Medical Review Organization, Inc. (MMRO), MERS' disability vendor. You will be contacted by MMRO within 5 business days of receiving the application to discuss your next steps in the disability evaluation process. The evaluation process may take up to 3 months to complete.
  3. We will notify you and your employer of the results once the disability evaluation is complete. If your application is approved, you will be eligible to apply for retirement benefits. Your disability approval letter will detail your next steps in order to start collecting your benefit.

Read more about Disability Retirement in the MERS Defined Benefit Plan Member Handbook or contact our Service Center.

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Defined Contribution Plan

If the employee suffers an injury or illness that keeps them from working permanently, as a member of the Defined Contribution Plan, they may be eligible to receive distributions from their account with no early withdrawal penalties.

To apply for disability benefits, the participant must:

  1. Contact their  physician to request a signed letter verifying their medical qualification as a disabled person in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code definition of disability, Section 72(m)(7).
  2. Complete the Defined Contribution Distribution Form (MD-005) and send to MERS record keeper with  physician letter, which will be used to qualify the disability. Once processed, participants will be fully vested in any funds not previously forfeited.
  3. When MERS has processed this request, the participant will be notified in the form of the distribution, or a request for additional information.
  4. If the participant is still actively employed, the employer must update their employment status in the Employer Portal to “terminated” with status reason: “disability.”

For more information on disability retirement, please consult the MERS Defined Contribution Participant Handbook or contact our Service Center.

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Hybrid Plan

There are two distinct parts to the MERS Hybrid Plan, with two sets of rules regarding disability:

Hybrid Part I – Your Defined Benefit Portion
There are two types of disability retirement for your defined benefit portion of your Hybrid Plan: Non-duty disability and duty disability.

Either you or your employer may apply for disability retirement benefits, which are subject to approval by MERS. Applications must be filed within one year of your "termination" date — the last official day of work at your employer.

To apply for disability benefits:

  • Download the Application for Disability Retirement (Form 51). Please review the form instructions for details, and complete the form. Make sure you submit all current medical records with your application.
  • When MERS has received all the required documentation, we'll schedule an Independent Medical Examination (IME).
  • After MERS receives the physician's report, they will approve or deny the disability application, and notify you by letter of our determination.

Hybrid Part II – Your Defined Contribution Plan
If the employee suffers an injury or illness that keeps them from working permanently, as a member of the Defined Contribution Plan, they may be eligible to receive distributions from their account with no early withdrawal penalties.

For more information on disability retirement, please consult your Defined Contribution Member Handbook or contact our Service Center.

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Health Care Savings Program

If your employee has been injured or develops an illness that makes them unable to work, and are collecting a disability benefit from a public pension plan, participants may be eligible to use their account prior to separation of employment. for reimbursement of medical expenses incurred during this period. Once MERS is notified of an employees’ disabled status, the participant receive information on how to begin receiving reimbursements from their account.

If a participant has been on an extended medical leave , they may be eligible to use their account after six months for reimbursement of medical expenses incurred. If the employee returns from extended medical leave, access to their account must stop and the Employer will reactivate their status using the Employer Portal.

For more information, consult the MERS Health Care Savings Program Participant Handbook or call our Service Center.

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457 Program

If a participant has quit working because of a permanent disability, they will have access to their pre-tax, employer and Roth contributions in their 457 account. Disability, whether duty or non-duty related, is defined as a physical or mental impairment that leaves the participant permanently incapable of performing their job.

To request a distribution , the participant must complete and submit the 457 Distribution/Direct Rollover Form (MD-405), along with evidence of the disability to MERS record keeper, for review and approval.

The same procedure is required for distributions of any Roth contributions.

For more information, consult the MERS 457 Supplemental Retirement Program Participant Handbook or contact our Service Center.

 

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Disclaimer
The information contained in this Web site is being made available as a public service. The information is not intended to constitute legal or investment advice, or to replace official versions of that information. Benefit Estimates or Service Credit Purchase estimates requested through this Web site are not official descriptions of any benefits, and do not represent a promise by MERS to provide any benefit(s) to any person(s). No one can detrimentally rely upon the information provided in, or requested through this Web site. MERS reserves the right to correct any errors, and presents this information without warranties, express or implied, regarding the information?s accuracy, timeliness or completeness. If you believe the information is inaccurate, out-of-date, or incomplete, or if you have problems accessing or reading the information, please call MERS at 800.767.MERS (6377).