There are several important deadlines that Minnesota police officers and firefighters need to be aware of when filing a PERA disability benefits claim, including the 18-month post-termination filing deadline.
Applications for Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Police and Fire Plan Duty or Regular Disability Benefits MUST be filed within 18 months after the person’s termination from public service. If an application is not filed within 18 months, an otherwise eligible disabled police officer or firefighter is barred from filing for PERA disability benefits. Missing this deadline can cost a disabled police officer or firefighter hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We have seen this issue come up several times. If a disabled police officer or firefighter has missed the 18-month deadline, no matter how strong his or her claim for PERA Duty Disability benefits and no matter how much we want to help, there is nothing the attorney can do.
Unfortunately, the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. see this issue come up occasionally. For example:
- An attorney in our office was contacted by a police officer who was involved in an on-duty shooting incident. The officer developed some mental health issues as a result and went on a medical leave for a short period of time. At the officer’s request, the officer’s doctor cleared her to return to full duty, even though she was still having mental health issues. After a short time back on the job, she realized things weren’t going well and she knew she couldn’t continue. She resigned from her job and didn’t pursue anything even though she was suffering from serious post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the on-duty shooting incident. Thankfully, a former colleague of hers suggested she call Meuser Law Office, P.A. to see if she was eligible for any benefits. We got her application in just shy of the 18-month deadline, and this officer was awarded PERA Duty Disability benefits, 299A.465 Continuation of Health Insurance benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits.
- An officer contacted us to evaluate his potential PERA Duty Disability claim. He was referred to Meuser Law Office, P.A. by his workers’ compensation lawyer, having just settled his workers’ compensation claim. This Minnesota police officer had suffered a low back injury while wrestling with a suspect which required surgery. After his physical restrictions due to his low back injury were deemed permanent, his employer terminated him based on his inability to perform his full duty job. Over the next two years, he collected various workers’ compensation benefits, and his work comp lawyer ultimately settled his workers’ compensation case. Unfortunately, his workers’ compensation lawyer also instructed him not to file for PERA Duty Disability benefits during that time. By the time he met with an attorney in our office, his PERA claim was barred because he had failed to file within 18 months of his termination. There was nothing that we could do to help him. Because this officer’s workers’ compensation lawyer didn’t know the rules associated with PERA, he gave the officer bad advice that cost him several hundred thousand dollars.
- An attorney in our office met with a Minnesota police officer who had terminated from his employment over two years prior to our meeting. He had resigned as a police officer when he started to struggle with some mental health issues. Unfortunately, he didn’t seek help for his symptoms and he wasn’t diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder until more than two years after he terminated. Because he didn’t seek help and tried to manage it on his own, this officer didn’t even know he had PTSD until two years after he resigned. This gentleman didn’t receive a diagnosis until after the 18-month deadline had passed, but currently PERA does not have an exception for latent conditions that are not diagnosed until much later in time, such as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder.
For Minnesota’s police officers and firefighters who suffer significant on-duty injuries, it is imperative to have the right lawyer from the beginning. At Meuser Law Office, P.A., the first time we meet with a client, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys evaluate every potential claim, including but not limited to, Minnesota workers’ compensation, PERA/MSRS disability, Continuation of Health Insurance claims, and third-party claims. Our attorneys develop a timeline and a plan to ensure every possible resource for benefits is explored, which includes the coordination of claims every step of the way. Experience matters. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.