The Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) of Minnesota was established to supply a public pension fund for employees who work for cities and counties in the State of Minnesota. Members who contribute to PERA belong to either the Police and Fire, Corrections or General/Coordinate Plan based upon their position. Each of these plans offer retirement and disability benefits for its employees; however, the requirements to file for disability and the benefits of doing so vary greatly from plan to plan. At Osterbauer Law Firm, our experienced PERA disability attorney, Joe Osterbauer, can help you understand your options and secure PERA benefits for you.
Assistance and Representation for PERA Retirement and Disability Claims
PERA disability law is complex. If you are a member of the Police and Fire or Corrections Plan, there are specific requirements for filing disability applications. First, you must have two PERA Medical Forms completed by your treating providers, which indicate that you’ve sustained a disability that is expected to prevent you from performing the normal duties of your position for at least twelve months. Doctors many times do not understand what it is that you’re asking them to fill out because they do not commonly work on PERA disability cases. Your doctor may assume that by completing this paperwork, you will not be returning to work in any capacity. This is similar to what doctors see in social security disability cases. But, this is not the case here. To qualify for a PERA disability benefit under the Police and Fire or Corrections Plans, a member must show that he or she will not be able to perform the duties of the position for twelve months or more. A member does not have to show that he or she is permanently disabled or that he or she will not be returning to work in another capacity, outside of being a first responder.
In addition, even when doctors are willing to fill out these forms, many times they fill out the forms incorrectly or incompletely. Having an advocate on your side that has handled hundreds of these applications, will help you ensure that you get these forms completed quickly and effectively the first time so you can apply for and receive your benefits sooner.
Unfortunately, the PERA “rules” are not simply posted somewhere to assist applicants and practitioners. Much of my PERA knowledge has come from handling PERA cases over the years and litigating Minnesota Statute Sec. 299A.465 cases. Through this experience, I have developed a good understanding of the PERA rules and regulations and will be able to navigate you through the process. In addition, I practice in workers’ compensation law and I understand the rules with regard to workers’ compensation, PERA and how the two benefits overlap. It is important that when you select an attorney to help you with your workers’ compensation or PERA disability claims, that you chose an attorney that is experienced in both areas of the law. That is the only way you can ensure that you will be netting the most money from workers’ compensation and PERA disability.
Help Preventing or Appealing PERA Disability Claim Denials
It is necessary to provide proper medical documentation and records when filing a PERA disability claim in order to have proper support for your claim. It is also important that you file a strong, complete application to PERA the first time. If you apply for PERA disability benefits on your own and get denied, it becomes much more difficult and expensive for me to procure these benefits for you. My advise to police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, and others who may be eligible for PERA benefits, is always talk to an attorney before you file for PERA disability benefits on your own. A consultation does not cost you anything, and it may save you a lot of time and stress down the road.
It is particularly important to work with an attorney to file your Minnesota PERA disability benefits if you are a member of the Police and Fire Plan (e.g., police officer, deputy sheriff, firefighter, DNR officer, etc.) because you are also entitled to continued health insurance benefits under Minnesota Statute Sec. 299A.465. Your employer, the City or County, may appeal your healthcare continuation benefits after you are approved for PERA duty disability benefits. If you did not submit a complete and thorough application for duty disability benefits, you will be in a difficult position when you attempt to succeed in the City’s health insurance appeal litigation because the judge must look at the documentation that PERA was given and determine whether PERA made an appropriate determination based on that information.
At the Osterbauer Law Firm, our experienced PERA/MSRS disability attorney, Joe Osterbauer has extensive experience helping Minnesota police officers, firefighters, corrections officers and others access their PERA disability and workers’ compensation benefits. He understands how these benefits work together and how to avoid potential offsets. Joe Osterbauer and his team at Osterbauer Law Firm is here to help you secure and maximize your benefits after a work-related injury. To arrange a free consultation, give us a call today at 612.334.3434 or use our contact form.