Duty Disability Benefits: What PERA Members Will Receive

Police officers, firefighters, Hennepin County paramedics, and correctional officers who sustain a work-related injury or suffer from a work-related mental health condition may apply for Duty Disability benefits under their PERA pension plan. In order to qualify for Duty Disability benefits under either the PERA Police and Fire Plan or the PERA Correctional Plan, the first responder will need to demonstrate that he or she has a medical condition that is expected to prevent him or her from performing the normal duties of their position for a period of not less than 12 months. The first responder must also demonstrate that the disabling condition is a direct result of an injury or illness incurred during, or arising out of, the performance of inherently dangerous duties that are specific to the position. When a PERA member is approved for Duty Disability benefits, the monthly payment amount will depend on the type of plan the member paid into.

Members of the PERA Police and Fire Plan who are approved for Duty Disability benefits will receive a monthly payment from PERA at a base rate of 60 % of their average high-five salary (your highest five consecutive years of earnings). This is a non-taxable benefit through age 55. If the member has over 20 years of service in the PERA Police and Fire Plan, he or she will receive an additional 3% of the benefit for every year in excess of 20 years. This part of the benefit is taxable. For example, if a member has 25 years of service in the PERA Police and Fire Plan, he or she will receive 75 % of their high-five salary every month, 60 % (the base rate) is non-taxable and 15 % (5 years of service multiplied by 3 %) is taxable. As long as the member continues to qualify of the benefit, he or she will receive Duty Disability benefits until they reach age 55. At age 55, the benefit is converted to a retirement benefit and becomes taxable. Members of the PERA Police and Fire plan who are approved for Duty Disability are also eligible for healthcare continuation benefits under Minn. Stat. §299A.465 through age 65.

Members of the PERA Correctional Plan who are approved for Duty Disability benefits will receive a monthly payment from PERA at a base rate of 47.5 % of their average high-five salary. This is a non-taxable benefit until age 55 or 5 years after the benefit is granted, whichever is later. The benefit is then converted to a retirement benefit and becomes taxable. If the member has over 25 years of service in the PERA Correctional Plan, he or she will receive an additional 1.9 % of the benefit for every year in excess of 25 years. This portion of the benefit is taxable. For example, if a member has 30 years of service paid into the PERA Correctional Plan, he or she will receive 57 % of their high-five salary every month, 47.5 % (the base rate) is non-taxable and 9.5 % (5 years of service multiplied by 1.9 %) is taxable.

Understanding the complexities of the eligibility requirements and applying for PERA Duty Disability benefits can be difficult. Coordinating these benefits with workers’ compensation adds an additional layer of complication. Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A., has proudly and successfully represented hundreds of police officers, firefighters, Hennepin County paramedics, and corrections officers throughout the state of Minnesota for both workers’ compensation and PERA Duty Disability claims. We ensure your rights to benefits are protected and that your claims and benefits are coordinated to your advantage. Contact us today at 1-877-746-5680.