Florida and State Pension Disability Claims Lawyer
People who work for counties, municipalities or the State are probably familiar with the Florida Retirement System.
The Florida Retirement System (FRS) is an employer contributory system. In other words, your employer pays all the retirement contributions necessary for you to earn service credit towards a future retirement benefit. No money is deducted from your salary to pay for your retirement.
While the primary purpose of the FRS is to provide a pension for teachers, government employees, police officers and firefighters, it also provides financial support for those employees that become permanently disabled due to illness or injury while working or during poisoning injuries like smoke and drug related injuries.
Who Is Eligible: If you are actively participating in a Florida Retirement System plan, you are eligible for disability benefits should you become disabled. However, there is a big difference between being eligible for benefits and qualifying for them.
How “Disabled” is Defined: In order to receive disability retirement benefits from the FRS, you have to be totally and permanently disabled. If your injury or illness does not prevent you from doing any other sort of work, you are not eligible for FRS disability benefits.
Types of Benefits: FRS disability benefits fall into two different categories. The first is regular disability retirement benefits, which cover you if you become disabled or sick at home, or on vacation, or basically anywhere. Since these benefits are offering you coverage for when you aren’t at work, you have to have been employed for eight years by an FRS-paying employer in order to qualify.
The second category is line of duty disability, which every employee in the FRS system has from the very first day they are hired. Line of duty disability is not just available for police officers, fire fighters, or employees in positions that are inherently high risk. It is available for any FRS contributor who becomes disabled due to an event that occurred while they were working.
What the Benefits are Worth: If you qualify for regular disability, you should receive a minimum of 25% of your Average Final Compensation (AFC.) Your AFC is based on five years’ employment where your salary was the highest. If you qualify for a line of duty disability, you should receive a minimum of 65% of your AFC.
Finding yourself suddenly disabled is an experience that does not lend itself to paperwork and clear thinking. The newly disabled all of a sudden find themselves dependent on other people for practically every aspect of their lives, and this requires a huge adjustment.
Applying for your disability benefits are not the sort of thing that you can just take care of in an afternoon. There are forms to fill out and doctors to visit, and each step of the process must be completed in an exact way, otherwise the benefits will be denied.
What is Needed: If you are injured in the line of duty, the first thing you have to fill out is a Notice of Injury Form. If you are receiving workers’ compensation while you are applying for permanent disability, then you have to fill out a Certification of Workers’ Compensation Form.
What follows is an Application for Disability Retirement, which has to be filled out and notarized. A Statement of Disability has to come from your employer, plus you have to have a Physicians Statement of Disability, which has to be filled out by two Florida doctors.
It is practically expected that these forms will be followed by interviews, requests for more information, and more paperwork to fill out.
Your Options if You Are Denied
Fortunately for the disabled, those that are denied coverage have both the right to appeal and the right to reapply. For those with disabilities that are not so obvious, such as traumatic brain injuries or mental trauma, the whole application process should be overseen by an attorney that has experience in helping the disabled and has experience in the disability applications process.
The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey: Bridging the Gap for Florida Workers
The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey is a practice that is dedicated to helping the injured and disabled receive fair treatment from the programs that are supposed to help them.
We have helped injured Florida workers receive what they are entitled to from workers’ compensation programs and Social Security Disability, as well as the Florida Retirement System.
Our experienced attorneys will help you through the complex applications process. We will help you with the paperwork and make sure that everything is filled out correctly, and we will also represent you in any hearings or interview sessions that take place.
If you or a loved one is in the process of applying for disability benefits through the Florida Retirement System, contact our offices for a free consultation today.