MSRS Corrections Plan

Overview of Disability Benefits

A Minnesota State-employed corrections officer who suffers from a disability that is expected to prevent him or her from performing his or her normal duties for a period of at least one year may be eligible for disability benefits under the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) Corrections Plan.

Regular disability benefits are payable at a variable rate based on the number of years of service. If the disability is the result of a work-related injury or illness, and the injury or illness was incurred while performing duties that are inherently dangerous and specific to corrections officers, the corrections officer may be eligible for duty disability benefits. Duty disability benefits are payable at a base rate of 50% of the member's high-five salary and are non-taxable.

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. I applied for MSRS Corrections Plan disability benefits and I was denied. What do I do?

Contact us immediately. You have a very limited window of time within which to appeal. If you do not appeal the determination within the prescribed time period, you may substantially jeopardize your rights. Often, MSRS will reverse its initial denial after the submission of additional evidence supporting your application or after a contested hearing before an administrative judge.

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2. I applied for MSRS Corrections Plan duty disability benefits, but I was awarded regular disability benefits. Can I appeal?

Yes! You have a very limited window of time within which to appeal MSRS's determination, so it's critical that you act quickly. It is common for MSRS to award a regular disability benefit if there is insufficient evidence submitted to support that an individual's disability meets the duty disability criteria. We are happy to provide a consultation to determine whether your claim meets the duty disability criteria. MSRS frequently reverses its initial determination after the submission of additional evidence supporting your application or after a contested hearing before an administrative law judge.

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3. Do I need a lawyer to file for MSRS disability benefits?

It depends. You always have the option of applying for benefits on your own. When you call Meuser Law Office, you can be assured that we will always give you an honest assessment of your claim and help you determine whether or not you would benefit from our help in preparing your application. Unfortunately, it is very easy for individuals, even attorneys, who are unfamiliar with MSRS to make mistakes under the law — mistakes which can cost you benefits and delay when you receive them. With the assistance of our experienced attorneys, we will ensure that your application includes all available evidence to fully support your claim for benefits.

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4. What happens if I am denied MSRS disability benefits?

The first step is to file a request for an appeal. Depending on what was submitted with the original application, sometimes MSRS will reverse its determination based on the submission of additional evidence. Otherwise, a fact-finding conference may be held before an administrative law judge. In this situation, MSRS makes a determination based on the judge's findings.

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5. Is there a "minimum years of service" requirement to apply for MSRS Corrections Plan duty disability benefits?

No. For duty disability benefits, there is no "minimum years of service" requirement. You can be disabled the first day on the job and still qualify for duty disability benefits. If you are applying for regular disability benefits, the minimum years of service required depends on your hire date.

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6. Can I receive duty disability benefits under the MSRS Corrections Plan based on a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that I've developed due to my work-related activities?

Yes! PTSD and other psychological disabilities are explicitly covered under MSRS. Our firm has handled many applications for MSRS Corrections Plan members.

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7. Can I receive both MSRS Corrections Plan disability benefits and workers' compensation benefits?

Yes; however, the State of Minnesota is permitted under the Minnesota workers' compensation law to reduce the amount of your workers' compensation benefits by the amount you receive in Corrections Plan disability benefits. Because our attorneys are experienced in both workers' compensation and MSRS disability law, we can help you navigate the legal and procedural complexities to make sure you maximize your benefits from all sources.

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8. Are there time limits within which I have to apply for MSRS Corrections Plan disability benefits?

You must apply for disability benefits within 18 months after your termination from public service. MSRS disability benefits are payable retroactively up to 180 days prior to the date of your application, after you have exhausted all employer-based pay.

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9. My work comp claim was denied or is in dispute. Can I still apply for MSRS disability benefits?

Yes! We have successfully handled numerous claims for MSRS disability benefits involving claims that the workers' compensation insurer has denied or disputed.

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10. Can I work in a different line of work and still receive MSRS disability benefits?

Yes! With limited exceptions, you may work in almost any other field and maintain your eligibility for MSRS Corrections Plan disability benefits. If you are working in another capacity, your MSRS disability benefit will be reduced dollar-for-dollar if a combination of your MSRS benefit, workers' compensation benefits, and re-employment earnings exceed your salary at the time of your disability.

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11. My disability stems from an injury I sustained many years ago. Are there any time limits I have to be aware of?

Generally, no. We routinely handle MSRS disability claims involving injuries which may have originated two years, five years, even twenty years ago.

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12. Do all work-related injuries qualify for an in-the-line-of-duty disability benefit under the MSRS Corrections Plan?

No. Several years ago, the legislature revised the duty disability requirements for all plans under PERA and MSRS. Prior to that, any work-related injury could qualify as an in-the-line-of-duty disability. Currently, under the MSRS Corrections Plan, an applicant must show that his or her disability was incurred while performing duties that are inherently dangerous and specific to his or her position.

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13. I have a workers' compensation lawyer already, but he or she does not handle MSRS disability claims. Can you help me?

Yes. While we generally prefer to handle both the MSRS claims and the workers' compensation claims involved on a case simply because of the coordination issues that arise, we can and do handle claims for MSRS benefits where an individual is represented by a separate workers' compensation attorney.

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14. How much does it cost to retain your firm to help me with my MSRS disability claim?

We charge a reasonable hourly fee for our services. We are happy to work with you as special circumstances may require to ensure our services are as affordable as possible.

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15. How do I learn more about my disability benefit options under the MSRS Corrections Plan?

Contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. At Meuser Law Office, we have successfully represented many State corrections officers and other State-employed peace officers throughout Minnesota for workers' compensation and duty disability benefits.

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