Employees who have worked for the City, County or State of Florida may be eligible for State Disability Retirement benefits from the Florida Retirement System (FRS). Disability coverage is provided to eligible members of the FRS Pension Plan and FRS Investment Plan who become totally and permanently disabled. The disability must be due to an injury or illness that occurred while the member was actively employee in an FRS-covered job. The applicant must be found totally and permanently disabled, and be unable to work in their former position, or in any other type of job, including part-time work, as of the date they were last on the rolls as an employee.
There are two types of disability retirement benefits available: Regular and In-Line-Of-Duty. The attorneys at Stolberg & Townsend, P.A. can help with both types of benefits.
In order to qualify for Regular disability benefits, the employee must have completed at least 8 years of creditable service. The cause of the disability could arise from an illness or injury due to natural causes, or an accident not related to the member’s covered employment.
In order to qualify for In-Line-Of-Duty retirement benefits, the disabling illness or injury must be as a result of the employment and arise out of and during the performance of duties required by the employer during regular or irregular work hours. Employees are eligible for In-Line-Of-Duty retirement benefits from the first day of employment in a regularly established position.
The State requires the applicant to file an Application for Pension Plan Disability Retirement form or an Application for Investment Plan Disability Retirement form, along with a Statement of Disability by Employer form, and a Physician’s Report of Disability form from two (2) physicians. If the applicant is applying for In-Line-of-Duty benefits, they will also need to file the Notice of Injury form, or an explanation as to why there is no such form. If the applicant is awarded disability retirement benefits, they will need to submit additional forms at that time. There are special rules that affect individuals injured on the job who may have been receiving workers’ compensation benefits prior to being deemed eligible for State Disability Retirement Benefits. There are also special rules that apply to first responders, such as police officers and firefighters.
If the applicant is denied benefits, they have the right to appeal within 21 days of receiving the denial. The member may elect to receive service-based benefits while pursing the claim through the appeal process.
The process of appealing a denial can be complex and time consuming. Members may want to consider hiring an attorney with experience in State Disability Retirement matters to represent them throughout the appeal. If an attorney is successful with an appeal, the state may pay some or all of the attorney’s fees, and reimburse some or all of the costs expended during the appeal.
Byron Townsend has been representing State Disability Retirement claimants in Tampa, Florida and surrounding areas, since 2009. He has a strong success rate, and has been asked by the State to provide assistance with forms for the appeal process. Mr. Townsend provides free initial consultations to claimants who are applying for disability retirement benefits, or appealing a denial of an application for State Disability Retirement. Contact Stolberg & Townsend, P.A. at 813-221-1300 for help with your State Disability Retirement claim in Tampa, Hillsborough County or surrounding areas.