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Retirement Manual - Disability Benefits and Procedures

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Webster Parish Clerk of Court

Hon Holli Vining

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Board of Trustees Membership Information Active Members Information Regular/DROP Benefits Retirement Manual Retirement Forms

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Eligibility for Disability Retirement Benefits – (See R. S. 11:1522)

A member who has at least ten years of service credit, or whose disability was caused solely as a result of injuries sustained in the performance of his official duties, will be eligible to receive disability retirement benefits once his request has been approved by the board of trustees.  In order to be considered for disability by the board of trustees, a member must undergo the procedures for medical review as discussed in the section titled “Application For Disability Benefits, Rules Related to the Commencement of Disability Benefits, and the Payment of Disability Benefits” and be certified as totally and permanently disabled by the State Medical Disability Board.

Calculation of Disability Retirement Benefits – (See R. S. 11:1522)

Once the board of trustees has approved his application for disability retirement, a member will be paid monthly disability retirement benefits equal to the greater of forty percent of his monthly average final compensation or seventy-five percent of his monthly regular retirement benefit calculated as explained in the section titled “Computation of Regular Retirement Benefits”.

Application For Disability Benefits, Rules Related to the Commencement of Disability Benefits, and the Payment of Disability Benefits – (See R.S. 11: 216 and R.S. 11: 218)

A member who becomes totally disabled, who files an application for disability benefits while in service, and who, upon medical examination and certification as set forth below, is determined to be totally disabled will, if otherwise qualified, be eligible for disability benefits if the disability was incurred while the member was an active contributing member of the system in active service.  If the application for disability benefits is not filed while the member is in active service, it will be presumed that the disability was not incurred while the member was an active contributing member of the system in active service (unless the application is for retirement described in the section title “Deferred Disability Retirement”).  Such presumption may be overcome only by clear, competent, and convincing evidence that the disability was incurred while the member was an active contributing member of the system in active service. 

A disability claimed by a member must have been incurred after commencement of membership in the system.  Disability claims may not be honored in the case of preexisting conditions.

The applicant may submit any medical evidence, data, and other related material which the member feels is material, related to, or in support of the application for disability benefits along with the application for disability benefits.  In addition, the applicant's supervisor must submit a report that includes a brief history of the case and the supervisor's opinion as to the applicant's present ability to perform their normal required duties.  The board of trustees may require additional information to be included in the application.
 
The applicant's disability case history will be examined either by that member of the State Medical Disability Board whose area of specialty most closely relates to the nature of the claimed disability or by an outside physician designated by the board.  The examining physician will either conduct a medical examination of the applicant or waive the medical examination if obvious and overwhelming medical evidence of disability exists to his satisfaction.  The cost of the examination, including costs of laboratory tests, X-rays, and other such direct examination procedures will be borne by the retirement system; however, all non-direct costs, such as hospital room and board charges and other such expenses, must be borne by the applicant.  The initial examination should be completed within six weeks of the date of the applicant's filing for benefits.

The examining physician must submit to the board an in-depth report that must include the physician’s medical evaluation and conclusions as to the applicant's claimed disability.  Each member of the State Medical Disability Board or any board-designated physician has full authority to certify total disability with regard to an applicant they examine.  An applicant will be considered as certified totally disabled if, in the in-depth report submitted by the examining physician, the physician declares the applicant to be totally incapacitated for the further performance of the applicant’s normal duties and states that such incapacity is likely to be permanent.

If either the applicant or the board of trustees contests the examining physician’s final certification decision, the contesting party has the right to request a second medical examination.  Such an examination is allowed if a written appeal is filed within thirty days of notification of the certification decision.  This second examination will be performed by a member of the State Medical Disability Board or by a board-designated physician and will be performed at the expense of the requesting party.  The second physician must also submit an in-depth report to the board.  This report must include a medical evaluation of the applicant and conclusions as to the applicant's claimed disability.

If the second examining physician concurs in the findings and recommendations of the first physician, the first physician's decision will stand as final and binding and will not be subject to further appeal other than through the courts.

If the second examining physician disagrees with the findings and recommendations of the first physician, the two physicians must select a third specialist to conduct another examination and prepare and file a third report in the same manner as the first two.  The majority opinion of the three examining physicians will be final and binding and not subject to further appeal other than through the courts.  The cost of the third medical examination will be the responsibility of the retirement system if the applicant is certified as disabled or the applicant if the disability claim is denied.

The board should receive a final and binding disability certification from a member of the State Medical Disability Board, or a board-designated physician, and retire an eligible disability applicant within one hundred and twenty days of the applicant's date of filing for disability retirement. Disability benefits become payable on either the filing date of the application for disability retirement or the day following the exhaustion of all sick leave or annual leave claimed by the applicant, whichever is the later.

Disability Vesting (Deferred Disability Retirement) – (See R. S. 11:217)

A person with twenty or more years of service credit who withdraws from active service prior to attaining the age required to be eligible for retirement may leave their contributions on deposit with the system and, if they become totally and permanently disabled prior to attaining the age required for normal retirement, they will be eligible for a benefit.  The benefit will equal the lesser of either the applicable disability benefit or the applicable normal benefit and will be payable upon application and approval by the Board of Trustees.  Upon attaining the normal vested retirement age, the disability benefit will cease and the member will receive the full vested normal retirement.

The State Medical Disability Board – (See R. S. 11:219)

The State Medical Disability Board is to be composed of physicians appointed by the board of trustees. Each medical board member is responsible for either reviewing the medical case histories or conducting medical examinations of members of the system who apply for disability benefits and for submitting findings and recommendations to the board of trustees.  The State Medical Disability Board or any member thereof or the board of trustees may call upon physicians in any area of medical specialty and from any area of the state either to review case histories or to conduct regular or appeal examinations of disability retirement applicants or retirees.  These alternate physicians shall follow the same procedures and have the same authority as regular members of the State Medical Disability Board.

Certification of Continuing Eligibility for Disability Benefits – (See R. S. 11:220)

Once each year during the first five years following disability retirement, and once in every three-year period thereafter, the board may require a disability retiree who has not yet attained the equivalent age of normal retirement to undergo a medical examination at the retiree's expense.  The examination will be made at the place of residence of the retiree if the retiree is immovable or any other place agreed to by a physician on the State Medical Disability Board or board designated specialist.  The examining physician must submit a report to the board recommending either continuing or ceasing the former member’s disability status.  If a member of the State Medical Disability Board issues a final and binding report to the board stating that a disability retiree's total disability has ceased, the board must order the discontinuation of the disability benefit.  A contested decision may be appealed pursuant to the procedures described in the section titled “Application For Disability Benefits, Rules Related to the Commencement of Disability Benefits, and the Payment of Disability Benefits.”

If a disability retiree who has not yet attained the equivalent age of normal retirement refuses to submit to a medical examination by a physician designated by the board, payment of the disability benefit will be discontinued.  Payment will be discontinued until the disability retiree submits to the examination.  If the disability retiree’s refusal continues for one year, the board will revoke all rights to the disability pension.

A person’s right to normal retirement benefits based upon age and service will not be affected by either having received disability benefits in the past or having the disability benefits terminated involuntarily.

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