What It Is and Who Is Eligible
Plan G provides disability retirement benefits for active members who are determined by the Board of Retirement (BOR) to be permanently incapacitated for the performance of their regular job duties. There are two types of disability retirement. The circumstances surrounding the disability determine which type applies.
- Service-connected disability (SCD): Permanent disability resulting from an illness or injury directly related to your County employment. The BOR must find a direct causational link to the workplace in order to grant an SCD retirement.
- Nonservice-connected disability (NSCD): Permanent disability resulting from an illness or injury not related to your County employment.
Note: A member who is found by the BOR to be permanently incapacitated for the performance of their regular job duties, but is capable of performing the duties of another County position may be eligible for an SCD or NSCD Salary Supplement. In such case, should the member opt to accept a lower-paying County position, LACERA will supplement the difference in compensation. More information on the Salary Supplement is available in the Disability Retirement guide, on the Forms & Publications page of lacera.com.
SCD: Eligibility Requirements
A Plan G member who becomes permanently incapacitated for the performance of their regular job duties due to an SCD may apply to receive an SCD retirement allowance. There is no age or service requirement.
NSCD: Eligibility Requirements
Any Plan G member who has at least five years (120 pay periods) of County (or County and reciprocal) service credit and becomes permanently incapacitated for the performance of their regular job duties due to an NSCD may apply to receive an NSCD retirement allowance. There is no age requirement.
A member who has withdrawn their retirement contributions is not eligible for a disability retirement.
The benefit amount payable depends on the type of disability retirement granted and the amount of the member’s final compensation. Disability retirement allowances granted to Plan G members are eligible for annual COLA adjustments.
A member who is eligible to retire may elect a service retirement and receive the applicable retirement benefit while their application for a disability retirement is pending.
The SCD benefit is the higher of:
- One-half of the member’s final compensation, or
- The member’s full service retirement allowance (if eligible)
County SCD Healthcare Subsidy: The County contributes a minimum of 50 percent of the member’s selected retiree medical/ dental plan premium or a minimum of 50 percent of the benchmark plan premium, whichever is less. For members with more than 13 years of service credit, the County pays the percentage to which the member is otherwise entitled under the County’s retiree healthcare subsidy.
Tax Note: The Internal Revenue Code grants special tax exclusions for certain SCD retirement benefits. Section 104(a)(1) of the Code provides that an amount equal to 50 percent of the member’s final compensation may be excludable from their gross income for federal tax purposes. The amount of any COLA adjustment attributable to that amount may also be excludable. Any remaining portion of the allowance is taxable.
Eligible surviving spouses or children who receive a monthly continuing benefit following the SCD retiree’s death are also entitled to this IRS tax benefit. The benefit does not apply to ex-spouses or surviving domestic partners.
The NSCD benefit is the higher of:
- An amount based on age and length of service up to one-third of the member’s final compensation, or
- The member’s full service retirement allowance (if eligible)
If the NSCD disability applicant is eligible for a service retirement and the amount of that service retirement allowance is greater than the amount of the disability retirement allowance, the member may prefer to elect a service retirement rather than applying for an NCSD retirement. The benefit amount would be the same and since it would not be subject to the lengthy disability review process, the allowance would begin more quickly.
On NSCDs, the County healthcare subsidy applies to members with 10 or more years of service credit; no exceptions are made on NSCDs with less than 10 years of service credit. (See Cost of Medical and Dental Plans on section 8 Post-Retirement Healthcare.)
When You Must Apply
An application for either type of disability retirement must be submitted:
- While you are still employed, or
- Within four months after you have terminated employment, or
- Any time after terminating employment, provided
- You are physically or mentally unable to perform your regular job duties and that condition has been ongoing from the date of separation
- A delay in filing your application has not impaired LACERA’s ability to investigate your case
If you are terminally ill and wish to provide a continuing benefit to your survivor, you or your authorized representative should contact LACERA immediately at 800-786-6464. LACERA will expedite the processing of your disability retirement application.
The effective date of disability retirement is governed by CERL. Generally, a disability retirement allowance becomes effective as of the date the application is filed with LACERA, but not earlier than the day following the last day of regular compensation.
Additional information regarding filing for disability retirement is included in the Disability Retirement: Step-by-Step Guide.
Continuing benefits for disability retirement vary according to the type of disability retirement granted.
SCD continuing benefit for a surviving spouse or domestic partner If the Unmodified Option was elected:
- 100 percent of member’s monthly SCD allowance for life
- Marriage or registration of California domestic partnership must have occurred prior to member’s retirement; one-year requirement does not apply
If one of the numbered Retirement Options was elected:
- Benefit paid to beneficiaries will be based upon the Option chosen
NSCD continuing benefit for a surviving spouse or domestic partner If the Unmodified Option was elected:
- 65 percent of member’s monthly allowance for life
- Marriage or registration of California domestic partnership must have occurred one year prior to member’s retirement
County Long-Term Disability and Survivor Benefit Plan
As an active County employee, you may also be entitled to benefits under the County-administered Long-Term Disability and Survivor Benefit Plan. Contact your Department for more information.