Can Correctional Officers Qualify For PERA Duty Disability Benefits?
The short answer is yes, depending on how the correctional officer sustained his or her injury. The legislative intent in cases such as these is framed by Minnesota Statutes section 353.63, in which the legislature announced that special consideration should be given to government employees who devote their time to protecting the safety of others. The legislature recognized that the work correctional officers perform on a day-to-day basis is hazardous, and for this reason decided to provide a Duty Disability benefit for correctional officers disabled in the course of their employment. See Minn. Stat. § 353E.06, subd. 1 (2012). Minnesota Statutes section 353E.06 provides that “[a] local government correctional employee who is determined to qualify for a Duty Disability as defined in section 353E.001, subdivision 1, is entitled to a disability benefit.” Id. At the time relevant to this proceeding, Duty Disability was defined as:
a condition that is expected to prevent a member, for a period of not less than 12 months, from performing the normal duties of a local government correctional service employee as defined under section 353E.02 and that is the direct result of an injury incurred during, or a disease arising out of, the performance of normal duties or the actual performance of less frequent duties, either of which are specific to protecting the property and personal safety of others and that present inherent dangers that are specific to the positions covered by the local government correctional service retirement plan.
Minn. Stat. § 353E.001 (2012). The statutory provisions in Minn. Stat. § 353E.001 (2012) reflect the legislature’s intent to provide correctional officers with disability benefits when they become disabled from their positions. See id. § 353E.06.
The language of Minnesota Statutes section 353E.001 sets out three elements that an applicant must prove in order to receive PERA Duty Disability benefits:
1) A condition is expected to prevent a member, for a period not less than 12 months, from performing normal duties of a local government correctional service employee
2) The duty performed is specific to protecting the property and personal safety of others
3) The duty presents inherent dangers that are specific to positions covered by the local government correctional service retirement plan. See Minn. Stat. § 353E.001, subd. 1.
If you have been injured on the job and want to make sure you receive the all the benefits you’re due, contact us at Meuser Law Office, P.A. today for a free consultation by calling 877-746-5680. Also, this article is the first in a series of three articles. Watch for part two in an upcoming blog post to learn more about how PERA cases are handled for injured correctional officers.