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FAQs - DISABILITY RETIREMENT

  1. What is disability retirement?

    Disability retirement is a category of retirement that may be granted by the Board of Retirement when it determines a member is permanently incapacitated, either physically or mentally from performing his or her job duties. (12-6-07)

  2. Are there different types of disability retirement?

    Yes. There are service-connected and nonservice-connected disability retirements. Service-connected disability retirement is based upon a disability caused by an illness or injury related to the member's employment. Nonservice-connected disability retirement is based upon a disability caused by an illness or injury not related to the member's employment. (12-6-07)

  3. Do all LACERA plans include disability retirement?

    No. Only contributory plans A, B, C, and D include disability retirement; members of those Plans who meet certain eligibility requirements may apply for disability retirement.

    Plan E does not include disability retirement. However, the County-sponsored Long-Term Disability and Survivor Benefit Plan provides benefits if you become disabled during active service; it also provides benefits to your eligible survivor in the event of your death as an active member.* Contact your Department for details on County-sponsored insurance plans. LACERA does not sponsor or administer these plans. (2-24-10)

    *Certain conditions and restrictions apply. County-sponsored benefits vary according to the benefits plan.

  4. How does my Prospective Transfer to Plan D affect my eligibility to apply for disability retirement?

    If you transfer prospectively to Plan D you are eligible to apply for a service-connected disability retirement (regardless of the date

    • Two continuous years of active service completed as an active Plan D member after your most recent effective date of transfer (service without medical leave specifically related to a pre-existing disability, injury, or disease).
    • If service has not been continuous, five years of service credit earned as an active Plan D member after your most recent effective date of transfer.

    To apply for a nonservice-connected disability retirement, Plan D members must have earned a minimum of five years of County service credit. The credit may include Plan D, Plan E, or reciprocal service credit, but must include one of the Plan D service credit options listed above. (12-6-07)

  5. I transferred prospectively from Plan E to Plan D. Am I permitted to purchase Plan E time to meet the two-year or five-year eligibility requirement to apply for a service-connected disability retirement?

    No. A member who has transferred prospectively to Plan D must complete two continuous years of active service after his or her most recent effective date of transfer date or earn five years of retirement service credit under Plan D; the time cannot be purchased. (12-6-07)

  6. How is “active service” defined?

    Government Code Section 31494.5 (g) defines active service as “time spent on active, on-the-job performance of the duties of a full-time or part-time position and on any authorized paid leaves of absence; provided, however, that any authorized paid leave of absence or part-time service shall not constitute active service if the leave of absence or part-time service is necessitated by a preexisting disability, injury, or disease.” (12-6-07)

  7. How is “pre-existing” defined in matters relating to service-connected disability retirement?

    Pre-existing refers to any disability, injury, or disease that existed prior to the date a member transferred prospectively from Plan E to Plan D. (12-6-07)

  8. In service-connected disability cases, who determines if a leave of absence or part-time service is necessitated by a preexisting disability, injury, or disease?

    The determination is made by the Board of Retirement, based upon evidence presented by the employer and by the member, if requested by the board. (12-6-07)

  9. Does the Worker's Compensation process affect the granting of a Disability Retirement?

    No. The Board of Retirement makes independent findings; its decision whether or not to grant a member's disability retirement application is completely independent of the Worker's Compensation process.

  10. Do I have to pay taxes on my disbility retirement allowance?

    The IRS Private Letter Ruling issued to Ventura County states that members who receive a service-connected disability allowance may reduce the tax liability of their gross retirement allowance by an amount equal to 50% of their final compensation. That portion of the allowance which is greater than 50% of final compensation is subject to income taxation. This exclusion would also apply to a surviving spouse of a retired member, or a surviving spouse of an active member, whose death was service-connected. 10-9-14

  11. Are any disability benefits available to Plan E members?

    Plan E has no LACERA disability benefits. The County Long-Term Disability Plan (LTD) is designed to provide certain disability benefits to Plan E general members. For information on LTD, call the County Employee Hotline at 213-388-9982. (8-24-09)

  12. I have been granted a Disability Retirement by the Board of Retirement. Can I use my vacation/sick time before my retirement allowances begin?

    You may use any remaining sick time and 4850 benefits, but not vacation time. Payment in full for any remaining holiday or vacation time will be included in your termination pay. Coordinate with LACERA and your department’s payroll office to make sure your County sick time and 4850 benefits are exhausted before your LACERA allowance begins. (8-7-06)

10/9/14