PERA stands for the Public Employees Retirement Association, an organization that operates only in the State of Minnesota. Generally speaking, PERA provides and manages the benefits for certain public employees—for example, retired government workers, police officers and firefighters—who worked for local governments throughout the State. Currently, PERA serves over 150,000 public employees and pays benefits to more than 40,000 retirees, survivors, and disabled members. This article explains PERA’s role in providing disability benefits and workers’ compensation.
The first step towards eligibility is to be a PERA member. Under Minnesota law, most non-elected public employee positions—like police officers, firefighters, correctional officers and employees working for state counties, cities, townships, and public school districts—are automatically enrolled. However, some public employees have the option to participate as a member of PERA. Typically, optional membership is offered for certain elected officials, volunteer ambulance personnel, city managers, and physicians employed by local governments.