Police officers pay into the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). PERA offers a number of benefits to police officers who pay into PERA, one of which is a regular retirement pension. Under PERA once an officer reaches age 55 with at least 20 years of service they are eligible for a full pension which is 60% of their high five. While an officer can consider an early retirement starting at age 50 there can be significant penalties or other limitations on the benefits they would receive. In short, whether an officer works for Minneapolis, St. Paul or another department, retiring under PERA is simply not an option for many of Minnesota’s police officers.
An option all Minnesota police officers have under PERA, is to medical out under a PERA disability. If a work injury, whether physical or psychological, prevents an officer from performing their job duties they maybe eligible for a PERA Duty Disability.
What does it take to qualify for a PERA Duty Disability and medical out?
An officer may qualify for a Duty Disability if they sustain an injury that will prevent them from performing one or of all their job duties for a period of at least one year. The injury can be physical or psychological such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Can I still medical out under PERA if I sustained an injury and returned to work?
Yes, an officer who sustained an injury and returned to work may still medical out as a result of that injury. Often injuries or symptoms progress over time. If an old injury prevents an officer from performing their job, they may qualify for a Duty Disability.
Can I medical out under PERA if I also sustained an injury outside of work?
Yes, an officer who sustains an injury outside of work can still medical out under PERA. It does not matter if an officer sustained an injury before or after a work-related injury. As long as the work-related injury is a substantial contributing factor to an officer’s current condition and inability to perform their job duties, they may qualify for a Duty Disability.
What benefits would I receive if I medical out and I am awarded a PERA Duty Disability?
An officer with less than 20 years of service would receive a full pension which is 60% of their high five. This benefit would also be tax free until the officer reached normal retirement age of 55. An officer who is awarded a PERA Duty Disability would also have the option to continue their health insurance, whether single or family coverage, through the department until age 65.
Will I receive credit for my additional service if I have more than 20 years of service and medical out under PERA?
Yes, an officer with more than 20 years of service will receive credit for their additional years of service. An officer will receive an additional 3% of their high five for each year of service beyond 20. For instance, an officer with 25 years of service would receive 75% of their high five when medicalling out under PERA.
What should I do if I am considering quitting, retiring, or medicalling out under PERA?
It is important for an officer to know their rights before making any decision. An officer who believes they are no longer able to perform their job is encouraged to reach out for a no-obligation free consultation about their rights.
Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. is one of the few workers’ compensation law firms in the state of Minnesota that also handles PERA and MSRS disability claims. We’ve successfully represented hundreds of State Patrol, police officers and firefighters throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. Our knowledgeable attorneys will help you understand the often confusing PERA Duty Disability benefit law and ensure you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. We can explain what rights you have and make recommendations to you in terms of how to best protect your rights to those benefits. Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. will help make the process easier to navigate. Contact us today for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation by calling 1-877-746-5680.