Minnesota’s disabled police officers and firefighters are often eligible for disability benefits – either duty or regular – through the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Police and Fire Plan. However, there are certain age and service limitations regulating who can apply for disability benefits. For PERA Duty Disability benefits, a member cannot apply for Duty Disability if that member is age 55 or older, and has 20 years or more of service credit. For PERA regular disability benefits, a member cannot apply for regular disability if that member is age 55 or older, and has 15 or more years of service credit.
At Meuser Law Office, P.A., it’s not uncommon to see disabled Minnesota police officers and firefighters who are ineligible for disability benefits by virtue of the age and service limitations. In those cases, instead of a disability benefit, typically those police officers or firefighters will take a PERA Police and Fire Plan Retirement benefit if they can no longer work in their position as the result of a work-related injury.
Meuser Law Office, P.A. has proudly and successfully represented hundreds of police officers and firefighters throughout the state of Minnesota for PERA disability and workers’ compensation claims for in-the-line-of-duty injuries.
Coordinating all the different types of benefits available to injured police officers and firefighters is complicated. It’s easy to make mistakes, and those mistakes can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of the most common mistakes we see is when an individual applies for the wrong type of PERA Police and Fire Plan Benefit.
In addition to retirement benefits, Minnesota police officers and firefighters who are disabled from performing their regular duties may be eligible for a variety of different types of disability benefits, including:
Permanent total disability or “PTD” is a wage loss benefit paid to an injured worker whose injuries are so extensive that he or she is unable to find meaningful gainful employment. A judge at a hearing will determine whether or not an injured worker is permanently totally disabled. Typically, even if an injured worker has admitted extensive injuries, the insurance company will not acknowledge that the injured worker is PTD.
First, in order to qualify for PTD in Minnesota, for injuries occurring on or after October 1, 1995, the injured worker must establish a minimum Permanent Partial Disability or PPD rating. Generally the minimum PPD threshold is 17%, but the court also looks at other factors such as the injured worker’s age and education level. The less formal education an injured worker has received and the older the injured worker is, the lower the PPD rating the injured worker must establish. While certain medical conditions automatically qualify an injured worker for PTD benefits, such as complete loss of sight, loss of both arms, and paralysis. It’s also important to note that if an injured worker’s injury occurred prior to October 1, 1995 he or she may still be entitled to PTD benefit; however, the controlling law is slightly different. In Minnesota work comp the law in effect on the date of the employee’s injury controls the employee’s entitlement to benefits.