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2005 Minnesota Statutes

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353.33 Total and permanent disability benefits.

Subdivision 1. Age, service, and salary requirements. A coordinated member who has at least three years of allowable service and becomes totally and permanently disabled before normal retirement age, and a basic member who has at least three years of allowable service and who becomes totally and permanently disabled is entitled to a disability benefit in an amount under subdivision 3. If the disabled person's public service has terminated at any time, at least two of the required three years of allowable service must have been rendered after last becoming a member. A repayment of a refund must be made within six months after the effective date of disability benefits under subdivision 2 or within six months after the date of the filing of the disability application, whichever is later. No purchase of prior service or payment made in lieu of salary deductions otherwise authorized under section 353.01, subdivision 16, 353.017, subdivision 4, or 353.36, subdivision 2, may be made after the occurrence of the disability for which an application under this section is filed.

Subd. 2. Applications; accrual of benefits. Every claim or demand for a total and permanent disability benefit must be initiated by written application in the manner and form prescribed by the executive director showing compliance with the statutory conditions qualifying the applicant for a total and permanent disability benefit and filed with the executive director. A member or former member who became totally and permanently disabled during a period of membership shall file application for total and permanent disability benefits within three years next following termination of public service. This benefit begins to accrue the day following the commencement of disability, 90 days preceding the filing of the application, or, if annual or sick leave is paid for more than the 90-day period, from the date salary ceased, whichever is later. No member is entitled to receive a disability benefit payment when there remains to the member's credit any unused annual leave or sick leave or under any other circumstances when, during the period of disability, there has been no impairment of the person's salary. Payment must not accrue beyond the end of the month in which entitlement has terminated. If the disabilitant dies prior to negotiating the check for the month in which death occurs, payment is made to the surviving spouse, or if none, to the designated beneficiary, or if none, to the estate. An applicant for total and permanent disability benefits may file a retirement annuity application under section 353.29, subdivision 4, simultaneously with an application for total and permanent disability benefits. The retirement annuity application is void upon the determination of the entitlement for disability benefits by the executive director. If disability benefits are denied, the retirement annuity application must be initiated and processed.

Subd. 3. Computation of benefits. This disability benefit is an amount equal to the normal annuity payable to a member who has reached normal retirement age with the same number of years of allowable service and the same average salary, as provided in section 353.01, subdivision 17a, and section 353.29, subdivision 3.

A basic member shall receive a supplementary monthly benefit of $25 to age 65 or the five-year anniversary of the effective date of the disability benefit, whichever is later.

If the disability benefits under this subdivision exceed the average salary as defined in section 353.01, subdivision 17a, the disability benefits must be reduced to an amount equal to the average salary.

Subd. 3a. Repealed, 1999 c 222 art 2 s 20

Subd. 3b. Optional annuity election. A disabled member may elect to receive the normal disability benefit or an optional annuity under section 353.30, subdivision 3. The election of an optional annuity must be made prior to the commencement of payment of the disability benefit. The optional annuity must begin to accrue on the same date as provided for the disability benefit.

(1) If a person who is not the spouse of a member is named as beneficiary of the joint and survivor optional annuity, the person is eligible to receive the annuity only if the spouse, on the disability application form prescribed by the executive director, permanently waives the surviving spouse benefits under sections 353.31, subdivision 1, and 353.32, subdivision 1a. If the spouse of the member refuses to permanently waive the surviving spouse coverage, the selection of a person other than the spouse of the member as a joint annuitant is invalid.

(2) If the spouse of the member permanently waives survivor coverage, the dependent children, if any, continue to be eligible for survivor benefits under section 353.31, subdivision 1, including the minimum benefit in section 353.31, subdivision 1a. The designated optional annuity beneficiary may draw the monthly benefit; however, the amount payable to the dependent child or children and joint annuitant must not exceed the 70 percent maximum family benefit under section 353.31, subdivision 1a. If the maximum is exceeded, the benefit of the joint annuitant must be reduced to the amount necessary so that the total family benefit does not exceed the 70 percent maximum family benefit amount.

(3) If the spouse is named as the beneficiary of the joint and survivor optional annuity, the spouse may draw the monthly benefits; however, the amount payable to the dependent child or children and the joint annuitant must not exceed the 70 percent maximum family benefit under section 353.31, subdivision 1a. If the maximum is exceeded, each dependent child will receive ten percent of the member's specified average monthly salary, and the benefit to the joint annuitant must be reduced to the amount necessary so that the total family benefit does not exceed the 70 percent maximum family benefit amount. The joint and survivor optional annuity must be restored to the surviving spouse, plus applicable postretirement adjustments under section 356.41, as the dependent child or children become no longer dependent under section 353.01, subdivision 15.

Subd. 4. Procedure to determine eligibility. (a) The applicant shall provide an expert report signed by a licensed physician, psychologist, or chiropractor and the applicant must authorize the release of medical and health care evidence, including all medical records and relevant information from any source, to support the application for total and permanent disability benefits.

(b) The medical adviser shall verify the medical evidence and, if necessary for disability determination, suggest the referral of the applicant to specialized medical consultants.

(c) The association shall also obtain from the employer a certification of the member's past public service, the dates of any paid sick leave and vacation beyond the last working day and whether or not any sick leave or annual leave has been allowed.

(d) If, upon consideration of the medical evidence received and the recommendations of the medical adviser, it is determined by the executive director that the applicant is totally and permanently disabled within the meaning of the law, the association shall grant the person a disability benefit.

(e) An employee who is placed on leave of absence without compensation because of a disability is not barred from receiving a disability benefit.

Subd. 5. Benefits paid under workers' compensation law. Disability benefits paid shall be coordinated with any amounts received or receivable under workers' compensation law, such as temporary total, permanent total, temporary partial, permanent partial, or economic recovery compensation benefits, in either periodic or lump sum payments from the employer under applicable workers' compensation laws, after deduction of amount of attorney fees, authorized under applicable workers' compensation laws, paid by a disabilitant. If the total of the single life annuity actuarial equivalent disability benefit and the workers' compensation benefit exceeds: (1) the salary the disabled member received as of the date of the disability or (2) the salary currently payable for the same employment position or an employment position substantially similar to the one the person held as of the date of the disability, whichever is greater, the disability benefit must be reduced to that amount which, when added to the workers' compensation benefits, does not exceed the greater of the salaries described in clauses (1) and (2).

Subd. 5a. Repealed, 1991 c 341 s 51

Subd. 5b. Repealed, 2004 c 267 art 8 s 41

Subd. 6. Continuing eligibility for benefits. The association shall determine eligibility for continuation of disability benefits and require periodic examinations and evaluations of disabled members as frequently as deemed necessary. The association shall require the disabled member to provide an expert report signed by a licensed physician, psychologist, or chiropractor and the disabled member shall authorize the release of medical and health care evidence, including all medical and health care records and information from any source, relating to an application for continuation of disability benefits. Disability benefits are contingent upon a disabled person's participation in a vocational rehabilitation evaluation if the executive director determines that the disabled person may be able to return to a gainful occupation. If a member is found to be no longer totally and permanently disabled, payments must cease the first of the month following the expiration of a 30-day period after the member receives a certified letter notifying the member that payments will cease.

Subd. 6a. Medical adviser. The executive director may contract with licensed physicians or physicians on the staff of the state commissioner of health, as designated by the commissioner, to be the medical adviser of the association.

Subd. 6b. Duties of the medical adviser. At the request of the executive director, the medical adviser shall designate licensed physicians, psychologists, or chiropractors to examine applicants for disability benefits and review the expert reports based upon these examinations to determine whether an applicant is totally and permanently disabled as defined in section 353.01, subdivision 19, disabled as defined in section 353.656, or eligible for continuation of disability benefits under subdivision 6. The medical examiner shall also review, at the request of the executive director, all medical and health care statements on behalf of an applicant for disability benefits, and shall report in writing to the executive director the conclusions and recommendations of the examiner on those matters referred for advice.

Subd. 7. Partial reemployment. If, following a work or non-work-related injury or illness, a disabled person who remains totally and permanently disabled as defined in section 353.01, subdivision 19, has income from employment that is not substantial gainful activity and the rate of earnings from that employment are less than the salary rate at the date of disability or the salary rate currently paid for positions similar to the employment position held by the disabled person immediately before becoming disabled, whichever is greater, the executive director shall continue the disability benefit in an amount that, when added to the earnings and any workers' compensation benefit, does not exceed the salary rate at the date of disability or the salary currently paid for positions similar to the employment position held by the disabled person immediately before becoming disabled, whichever is higher. The disability benefit under this subdivision may not exceed the disability benefit originally allowed, plus any postretirement adjustments payable after December 31, 1988, in accordance with section 11A.18, subdivision 10. No deductions for the retirement fund may be taken from the salary of a disabled person who is receiving a disability benefit as provided in this subdivision.

Subd. 7a. Trial work period. (a) If, following a work or non-work-related injury or illness, a disabled member attempts to return to work for their previous public employer or attempts to return to a similar position with another public employer, on a full-time or less than full-time basis, the Public Employees Retirement Association shall continue paying the disability benefit for a period not to exceed six months. The disability benefit must continue in an amount that, when added to the subsequent employment earnings and workers' compensation benefit, does not exceed the salary at the date of disability or the salary currently paid for similar positions, whichever is higher.

(b) No deductions for the retirement fund may be taken from the salary of a disabled person who is attempting to return to work under this provision unless the member waives further disability benefits.

(c) A member only may return to employment and continue disability benefit payments once while receiving disability benefits from a plan administered by the Public Employees Retirement Association.

Subd. 8. Refusal of examination or medical evidence. If a person applying for or receiving a disability benefit refuses to submit to a medical examination under subdivision 6, or fails to provide or authorize the release of medical evidence under subdivisions 4 and 6, the association shall cease the application process or discontinue the payment of a disability benefit, whichever is applicable. Upon receipt of the requested medical evidence, the association shall resume the application process or the payment of a disability benefit upon approval for the continuation, whichever is applicable.

Subd. 9. Return to public service. Any person receiving a disability benefit who is restored to active public service except persons receiving benefits as provided in subdivision 7, shall have deductions taken for the retirement fund and upon subsequent retirement have the retirement annuity payable based upon all allowable service including that upon which the disability benefits were based.

Subd. 10. Repealed, 1973 c 753 s 85

Subd. 11. Coordinated member retirement status. No person is entitled to receive disability benefits and a retirement annuity at the same time. The disability benefits paid to a coordinated member must terminate when the person reaches normal retirement age. If the coordinated member is still totally and permanently disabled upon attaining normal retirement age, the coordinated member is deemed to be on retirement status. If an optional annuity is elected under subdivision 3a, the coordinated member shall receive an annuity under the terms of the optional annuity previously elected, or, if an optional annuity is not elected under subdivision 3a, the coordinated member may elect to receive a normal retirement annuity under section 353.29 or an annuity equal to the disability benefit paid before the coordinated member reaches normal retirement age, whichever amount is greater, or elect to receive an optional annuity under section 353.30, subdivision 3. The annuity of a disabled coordinated member who attains normal retirement age must be computed under the law in effect upon attainment of normal retirement age. Election of an optional annuity must be made before the coordinated member attains normal retirement age. If an optional annuity is elected, the election is effective on the date on which the person attains normal retirement age and the optional annuity begins to accrue on the first day of the month next following the month in which the person attains that age.

Subd. 12. Basic disability survivor benefits. If a basic member who is receiving a disability benefit under subdivision 3:

(1) dies before attaining age 65 or within five years of the effective date of the disability, whichever is later, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive a survivor benefit under section 353.31, unless the surviving spouse elected to receive a refund under section 353.32, subdivision 1;

(2) is living at age 65 or five years after the effective date of the disability, whichever is later, the basic member may continue to receive a normal disability benefit, or elect a joint and survivor optional annuity under section 353.31, subdivision 1b. The election of the joint and survivor optional annuity must occur within 90 days of attaining age 65 or of reaching the five-year anniversary of the effective date of the disability benefit, whichever is later. The optional annuity takes effect on the first day of the month following the month in which the person attains age 65 or reaches the five-year anniversary of the effective date of the disability benefit, whichever is later; or

(3) if there is a dependent child or children under clause (1) or (2), the dependent child is entitled to a dependent child benefit under section 353.31, subdivision 1b, paragraph (b).

HIST: 1957 c 935 s 13; 1959 c 650 s 21,41; 1961 c 595 s 2; 1963 c 641 s 25; 1965 c 880 s 6; 1967 c 711 s 1; Ex1967 c 37 s 2,3; 1969 c 940 s 10; 1971 c 106 s 29,30; 1973 c 753 s 53-56; 1975 c 102 s 15-17; 1975 c 359 s 23; 1976 c 329 s 23-25; 1977 c 305 s 45; 1977 c 429 s 29,30; 1978 c 471 s 6; 1978 c 796 s 35; 1979 c 216 s 14; 1981 c 68 s 21,22; 1981 c 180 s 11-13; 1981 c 224 s 88; 1983 c 73 s 7; 1983 c 85 s 1; 1984 c 564 s 26; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 284 art 5 s 9; 1987 c 372 art 9 s 14-16; 1988 c 709 art 5 s 19; 1989 c 319 art 3 s 12-16; art 13 s 37-39; 1991 c 341 s 19; 1992 c 432 art 2 s 12-15; 1993 c 307 art 4 s 19-26; 1998 c 390 art 9 s 3; 2000 c 461 art 3 s 16,17; 2004 c 267 art 8 s 15-19; 1Sp2005 c 8 art 1 s 12; art 10 s 51

* NOTE: Subdivision 7a, as added by Laws 2004, chapter 267, *article 8, section 19, is repealed effective July 1, 2006. Laws *2004, chapter 267, article 8, section 41.

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