Special Benefits for Minnesota Police Officers, Firefighters, State Troopers, and Corrections Officers

A police officer, paramedic, and firefighter all pose for the camera.

If you are a police officer, firefighter, first responder, or correctional officer, and pay into Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) or Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) you are entitled to different benefits depending on your plan type. There are different plans and benefits that are available to members when they become ill or are injured, whether it be a physical or psychological injury, at work.

Since there are different options that you may be entitled to, you will need help navigating the process to ensure you maximize your benefits. For example, the different types vary from Police and Fire plan, Correctional plan, Coordinated plan. Each plan type provides different benefits that range from regular disability, Duty Disability, permanent and total disability, and retirement benefits. Based on the plan in which you participate, qualifications for these benefits vary. Before you apply, it is important that you speak to an attorney to best determine what you are entitled to and how to best maximize your options. The different eligibility rules and specific requirements that must be met are complicated and the attorneys at Meuser, Yackley & Rowland can help you navigate the different intricacies of the benefits to which you may be entitled.

Specifically, one of these benefits is called Duty Disability. This type of benefit applies if you become disabled as a direct result of any injury, sickness, or other medically determinable condition that was incurred in or arose out of the performance of the normal or less frequent duties of the particular position and that present inherent dangers specific to the public safety positions. To simplify you may be eligible to receive Duty Disability benefits if 1) you were injured while performing inherently dangerous duties specific to your job, and 2) that you have been or are expected to be disabled from performing the duties of your position for at least twelve months. These injuries include both physical and psychological conditions.

If you are eligible for Duty Disability benefits under the Police and Fire plan, you will receive 60% of high five until the age of 55 or for a period of five years, whichever is longer. This benefit is non-taxable. If you have more than 20 years of service credit under the Police and Fire Plan, you will be entitled to an additional three percent for each year you have over twenty. Individuals over age 55 cannot receive a benefit if they have (or will have) 20 or more years of service credit on the date the benefit would be effective.

If you are eligible for a duty disability under the Correctional plan, your minimum benefit is equal to 47.5 percent of your high-five average salary. You will also receive 1.9 percent of your average salary for each year of service over 25 in the plan.

The process of applying for Duty Disability benefits under the different plans also requires certain documentation. For example, additional documents that must supplement the application are a minimum of two medical reports. One report must be signed by a licensed medical doctor and another signed by a licensed medical doctor, psychologist, chiropractor, or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

Additionally, when navigating through this process other important consideration is that when an individual who applies more than two years after the onset of the disabling condition must be unable to perform the duties of the position that was held 90 days prior to filing the application for disability. The attorneys at our firm can ensure the proper completion of the application and required documentation.

When applying for these benefits a common misconception is that individuals can no longer work if they receive the duty disability. There may be certain limitations and restrictions regarding work but generally individuals drawing disability benefits can still work. For example, one limitation is that the new position the individual starts working in cannot be covered by PERA’s Correctional or Police and Fire plans. Generally, going out on a duty disability does not mean you are precluded from working again.

It is imperative that you have an attorney who is knowledgeable about PERA/MSRS disability benefits to help you maximize your benefits available to you. Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. has been helping hundreds of individuals get what they are entitled to while navigating the complexities of these benefits with workers’ compensation claims. If you can’t find the answer you are looking for, call us. We’re here to help you.