Ordinary Disability Retirement
A permanent disability which is not a result of work may qualify a member for Ordinary Disability Retirement (ODR) benefits under G.L. c. 32, s. 6. ODR for a non-veteran who is under age 55 is calculated as a superannuation retirement at age 55 with the amount of member’s actual creditable service. If the member is over 55, the ODR is calculated at the member’s actual age. The member must have a minimum of 10 years creditable service.
ODR for a veteran consists of an annuity based on age and accumulated deductions, plus related interest, and a pension equal to 50% of the annual rate of regular compensation for the last year immediately preceding retirement for which he/she received regular compensation.
An employer may accommodate an employee’s disability by providing a similar position without loss of salary or benefits.
Every ODR applicant must undergo examination by a medical panel, and every ODR application undergoes a thorough review to ensure conformance with the public employee retirement laws.
Accidental Disability Retirement
Under G.L. c. 32, s. 7, accidental disability retirement (ADR) benefits are awarded when a member becomes permanently disabled from performing the essential duties of the position as a result of a personal injury sustained or a hazard undergone while in the performance of duties at some definite place and at some definite time. These benefits are calculated at 72% of the employee’s last 12 months of regular compensation, plus annuity and dependency benefits, if applicable.
There are no requirements for age or years of creditable service in order to apply for ADR, except that police officers and fire fighters must apply before attaining age 65. A member need not be an active member in service to apply for disability retirement, but must have been a member in service at the time of the injury or hazard undergone, and must have become disabled while a member in service.
An employer may accommodate an employee’s disability by providing the employee a similar position without loss of salary or benefits.
ADR standards are stringent and strictly interpreted under the public employee retirement law. These standards differ from workers’ compensation G.L. c 152 and injured on duty standards for public safety employees G.L.c 41, s. 111F.
Not every disabling condition caused by a hazard or injury occurring in the workplace or arising out of the member’s job will entitle the member to ADR, even where such injuries would render the member eligible for workers’ compensation or injured-on-duty benefits.
ADR requires not only that the member’s injuries “result from” the performance of duties, but the injuries must also be sustained “while in the performance” of those duties. Case law has determined that an employee who was injured at the workplace and on the employer’s premises while returning to work after lunch was not injured “while in the performance” of duties. Nor was a police dispatcher who was placed in a friendly headlock by a fellow employee and then fell to the floor causing permanently disabling injuries, “actually engaged in the performance of her job” when injured. Recently the Court upheld a denial of ADR benefits to a Building Inspector who became totally disabled due to a back injury after attempting to change the office water bottle, as this duty was not a required duty of the employee’s position.
Every ADR applicant must undergo examination by a medical panel, and every ADR application undergoes a thorough review to ensure conformance with the public employee retirement laws.
For further information regarding the application process for both ADR and ODR, click here.