IMRF Disability Benefits Protect You
Your IMRF benefits include disability protection if you become disabled while you are an IMRF member. IMRF provides two types of disability benefits:
- Total and Permanent
You always start out receiving temporary disability benefits. If you remain disabled after your temporary benefits run out, you will receive total and permanent benefits.
Your Other IMRF Benefits Are Protected
Your IMRF disability benefits are valuable because:
- You continue to earn service credit toward your future IMRF pension, at no cost to you
- Your death benefits would still include one year's salary, and death benefit options are the same as if you were still working
- You will receive monthly payments equal to 50% of your average monthly salary (based on the 12 months before the month you became disabled)
- Your retirements benefits will not be affected by the amount of your disability benefit. Your original salary will be used to calculate your retirement benefit.
A Reduced Benefit Still Protects You
If you receive Social Security disability and/or workers' compensation benefits, by law IMRF disability benefits must be reduced by the amount you receive from these benefits. Even if the amount you receive from Social Security disability and/or workers' compensation exceeds 50% of your income, IMRF will always pay you a minimum benefit of $10.00 a month to make sure your other IMRF benefits are protected.
Why is $10 a Month So Important?
Even though it may not seem like a lot of money, this $10.00 benefit is worth much more than you might realize. Every month you receive a disability benefit from IMRF:
- Your service credit is protected -- you earn an additional month of service credit toward your future pension and you avoid any gaps in service that could affect your future benefits
- Your pension is protected -- your retirement benefit will be calculated using your original salary, not the reduced disability amount.
- Your family is protected -- your death benefits would still include one year's salary, and death benefit options are the same as if you were still working
When Are You Eligible for Disability Benefits?
To be eligible for disability benefits you must have:
- At least 12 consecutive months of IMRF service credit since being enrolled in IMRF
- Service credit in each of the 12 months immediately preceding the date of disability
If you have a one-, two-, or three-month gap in service within those preceding 12 months, you may still be eligible for IMRF disability if you:
- Have 12 consecutive months of service credit prior to the gap in service
- Participated with the same IMRF employer immediately before and after the gap
To be eligible for benefits, the disability:
- Does not have to be work related
- Can include disability resulting from elective surgery, pregnancy and alcoholism
- Cannot be caused by an addiction to narcotic drugs or a self-inflicted injury
Why You May Not Be Eligible for Disability Benefits
Pre-Existing Condition Investigation
Pre-existing condition investigations apply only to total and permanent disability benefits. Temporary disability benefits are not subject to pre-existing condition investigations.
|If you become eligible for total and permanent disability benefits and have...||Your disability claim...|
|Five or more years of service credit prior to the date of disability, and during that time you did not receive IMRF disability benefits||Will not be investigated for a pre-existing condition.|
|Less than five years of IMRF service credit on the date of disability||Will be investigated for a pre-existing condition.|
You are protected by disability coverage only if you earn service credit for the off-season months.
How Long Will My Benefits Last?
IMRF disability benefits are not paid for the first 30 days of disability. Temporary disability benefits are effective on the 31st day following the date of disability, as long as you are no longer receiving salary, sick, or vacation pay from your employer. If you are still getting paid, your benefits will begin the day after the last day you were paid.
- Temporary disability benefits are paid for a period of time equal to one-half of your service credit, but not more than 30 months.
- Total and permanent disability benefits are paid after you have exhausted your temporary benefits. To qualify, you must be totally and permanently disabled and unable to engage in any gainful employment.
Trial Work Period
If your employer offers a trial work period, you may be able to return to work part time without losing all of your IMRF disability benefits.
Under IMRF's trial work period, a disabled member may return to work part time as a way of easing back into the work force. IMRF disability benefits would be reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount of trial work earnings. The trial work period cannot exceed 12 months. One trial work period is allowed for each disability.
IMRF disability benefits will stop if you return to work full time or for as many hours as was normal before the disability occurred.
Total and Permanent Disability Benefits
After you have exhausted your temporary disability benefits you will receive total and permanent disability benefits if you are:
- Totally and permanently disabled
- Unable to engage in any gainful employment
If you remain totally and permanently disabled, you may receive these benefits until the later of:
- The date you reach full Social Security Retirement Age
- The last day of the month which is five years after you became eligible for IMRF temporary disability benefits
If You Are Denied Benefits
IMRF will send you a denial letter if we deny or terminate your disability benefits. If you do not agree with this decision, you can request a hearing before the IMRF Board of Trustees Benefit Review Committee. IMRF must receive a completed "Request for a Hearing" form within 63 days of the date of your denial letter. The form and additional information about the appeal process will be included with your letter.
The hearings are held in the IMRF Oak Brook offices. You can:
- Come to your hearing in person, with or without your attorney
- Have a representative or attorney attend for you
- Request a video conference from our Springfield office
- Request a telephone conference at your request
- Present a written appeal without attending in person
After your hearing the Benefit Review Committee will make a recommendation to the full IMRF Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will make the final decision and IMRF will take no further action. If you disagree with this final decision, you can file an action for Administrative Review in the appropriate Circuit Court. You must file this action within 35 days of the date of the notice of the Board’s decision.