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Airport Authority: General Members

Disability Retirement

Disability retirement benefits are available to members who become permanently incapacitated by bodily injury or illness; are unable to perform their usual job duties; and are required to retire.

There are two types of disability benefits:
 

1. Industrial Disability Retirement

Industrial disability retirement benefits are available to members who become permanently incapacitated by bodily injury or illness caused by their job; are unable to perform the usual duties of their job; and are required to retire.

Members hired after September 1, 1982 may not apply for industrial disability retirement based upon conditions arising from stress, a mental disease or disorder or from a pre-existing physical or mental medical condition. A pre-existing medical condition is a medical condition that existed prior to the date the member joined the retirement system. If awarded, an industrial disability retirement benefit is the higher of the following amounts:

1. 33 1/3% of your highest one-year salary; or
2. If you are service eligible, your service retirement benefit.

There are also federal tax benefits available to disability retirement recipients.

2. Non-industrial Disability Retirement

If you have at least 10 years of creditable service; become permanently incapacitated by a non-work related injury or illness; are unable to perform your usual job duties and are required to retire, you may be eligible for a non-industrial disability retirement. The cause of the permanent incapacitation must not be the result of “willful misconduct” or a violation of law.

If awarded, a non-industrial disability retirement will be the highest of the following amounts:

1. 33 1/3% of your highest one-year salary; or
2. 1.5% x number of years of service x highest one-year salary; or
3. If you are service eligible, your service retirement benefit.

There are no federal tax benefits associated with a non-industrial disability retirement.

Burden of proof on applications for Disability Retirement and the application process

An application for disability retirement will be granted when the applicant has proven that he or she is legally entitled to award of the benefit. SDMC section 24.0501 sets forth the elements that the applicant must prove before he or she will be awarded an industrial disability retirement benefit. Workers’ compensation – based findings and conclusions are not binding on SDCERS and an award in the workers’ compensation system does not mean that the applicant will prevail on a claim to SDCERS for disability retirement benefits. All disability retirement applicants are referred for an independent medical examination. Once the examination is completed and the application has been reviewed, the SDCERS Board will approve, deny or refer the application for hearing before an adjudicator. After hearing, the adjudicator will recommend whether the Board should approve or deny the application. Applicants who disagree with the Board’s decision to deny their application may file a Petition for Writ of Mandate in the Superior Court to challenge the Board’s decision.

Who is Responsible for Employment-Related Issues and Granting Disability Retirement?

The employer that you work for and SDCERS are legally separate entities. Your employer is responsible for all issues related to your employment and your claim for worker's compensation. SDCERS pays retirement benefits, including disability retirements, and has the sole authority to evaluate your claim for disability retirement benefits. Read the document below for more detail.

  Who is Responsible for Employment-Related Issues vs. Disability Retirement?

Effect of Light Duty Assignments on Disability Retirement Application

The document below details how an employer's accomodation of an injured member may impact the member's application for a disability retirement. Click below to read/print.

  Effect of Light Duty Assignments on Disability Retirement Application

After award of a Disability Retirement: Annual Affidavits and Medical Re-examinations

All non-service age eligible disability retirement recipients (age 50 for safety members or 55 for general members) must file an annual affidavit in order to remain eligible for continued payment of disability retirement benefits. (SDMC section 24.0509.) In addition, all non-service age eligible disability retirement recipients are subject to medical re-examination. If a re-examining physician and the Board, after hearing, conclude that the recipient is no longer disabled, he or she will be ordered to return to work and the benefit will be terminated. (SDMC section 24.0510.)

Click on the forms below for more information about affidavits and the reexamination process, as well as to view/print the affidavit form.

  Re-examination Project Summary

  Affidavit Project Summary

  Affidavit & Questionnaire

In 2006, SDCERS made a commitment to improve the application processing time for Disability retirements and eliminate the significant backlog of applications being reviewed. Click below to view the progress that has been made on this project.

  Backlog Process and Application Processing

 

 

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