Monday, February 22, 2016

PERA Police and Fire and Corrections Plan Disability Benefits – Timing is Everything! If You Miss the 18-Month Filing Deadline, You Are Barred From Filing a Claim

Meuser Law Office, P.A. has proudly represented hundreds of police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers throughout the state of Minnesota in conjunction with in the line-of-duty injuries. Minnesota police officers, firefighters and corrections officers who are injured while on duty are eligible for a variety of benefits, including, but not limited to, workers’ compensation benefits, disability benefits under PERA or MSRS, and Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 299A.465.

Coordinating all aspects of your case to ensure you receive the maximum recovery from all sources of benefits is extremely complicated! It’s easy to make a mistake that can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are several timing issues that relate to filing claims for PERA Police and Fire Plan or Corrections Plan Disability Benefits. Missing a deadline can bar you from even applying for these types of benefits! Don’t leave it to chance! Disability benefits can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You must file for disability benefits within 18 months of your termination from public service. If you miss this deadline, you cannot file for disability benefits. This rule is basically like a Statute of Limitations. If you miss this deadline, you have no claim. Period. There’s no way around this one.

Sadly, we speak with people from time to time who clearly have injuries that would otherwise have qualified for duty disability benefits, who either didn’t realize they had a claim, or worse – were advised by someone to wait, and wait and wait to file for PERA benefits. In the meantime the deadline to file for disability benefits has passed.

Our office spoke with a woman a few weeks ago who was covered under the PERA Corrections Plan. In taking to her, it was clear that she had experienced a number of very traumatic incidents in the course of her employment. She began to develop symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was eventually diagnosed with the condition, and was taken off work.

This woman retained a workers’ compensation law firm to file a work comp case on her behalf. She said that her case was scheduled to go to trial in a couple months. She called our office to ask about proceeding with a claim for PERA Corrections Plan Duty Disability benefits.

Based on what we learned about her diagnosis, and the traumatic incidents in which she had been involved, it was evident that she would very likely meet the duty disability criteria for the PERA Corrections Duty Disability Plan. She had been off work for over five years by that point. I said a silent prayer that somehow she had remained an employee long after she stopped working.

Sadly, no. She had been terminated well over three years before she called Meuser Law Office, P.A. No one wants to deliver bad news – especially to someone you really want to be able to help. Our office had no choice but to tell her that she was outside the time limit within which to file for Corrections Plan Duty Disability Benefits. An application for disability benefits under the PERA Corrections Plan Duty Disability Benefits must be made within 18 months of the member’s termination from public service.

Based on what this woman’s monthly benefit would have been, a duty disability benefit would have been worth over $250,000.00 to her, tax free, over the next ten years, in addition to a retirement benefit for the rest of her life.

Please do not blow the 18 month deadline for filing for a PERA Police and Fire Plan or Corrections Plan Duty Disability Benefit! As much as our attorneys want to help in that type of situation, there is nothing that can be done. If you have a workers’ compensation lawyer who does not handle PERA, contact a lawyer who does practice in that area!

Meuser Law Office, P.A. routinely handles PERA Police and Fire Plan and Correction Plan applications and appeals for individuals who are represented by other attorneys for their workers’ compensation claims. For a free, no-obligation legal consultation, contact us today. Our knowledgeable attorneys will help you understand the often confusing PERA Duty Disability benefit law and ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled to. Call us today at: 1-877-746-5680.

  Jennifer Yackleyby Jen Yackley
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