Guest Post – Meuser Law Office P.A. “PERA Duty Disability – Timing is Everything! Separating After You’re Approved”

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 injuries sustained in the line of duty.

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.

After you’ve jumped through all the hoops, gotten all the documentation, filed your application, waited…and waited…and waited, you’ve finally gotten approved for PERA Police and Fire Plan or Corrections Plan Duty Disability benefits! But, you’re not quite done yet! You can still screw things up and accidentally mess up your claim!

After you’ve been approved for PERA Police and Fire Plan or Corrections Plan Duty Disability Benefits, you need to be physically off the job within 45 days. If you are not physically off the job, your application is cancelled, and you cannot re-apply for a period of one year based on the same condition. That means if you stay on the job even one day longer, your application is dismissed, and you went through all the work of applying for nothing. This is a deadline that you should not play around with. As a general rule, once one of our clients is approved for PERA benefits, if they are still working, we instruct them to discontinue immediately.

Note that you are not required to separate within 45 days; however, in many cases, for police officers and firefighters who are still employed by the department at the time they are approved for benefits, separating from public employment after an approval from PERA is the best option. This is because PERA benefits begin to accrue up to 90 days prior to your application, or the after you have exhausted all employer-based pay, whichever is later. For disabled police officers or firefighters who are still on the payroll, using IOD or sick and vacation time, it’s usually better to separate after you’ve been approved so that your PERA benefits begin to accrue right away, and immediately cash out any remaining sick and/or vacation time in a lump sum. In short, separating after you’re approved and cashing out your remaining accrued benefits means you get to collect the value of those benefits in a lump sum, rather than collecting them over the course of several weeks or months, and your PERA benefits begin to accrue immediately after your last check from your employer.

For police officers and firefighters who are approved for PERA Duty Disability, and who are working in a light duty capacity, the rule still requires that you physically be off the job within 45 days. However, it gets a little trickier to navigate under these circumstances. That’s because simply quitting your light duty job, or turning down an offer of a light duty assignment, may adversely affect your claim for workers’ compensation wage loss benefits. It’s a fine line to walk, and it’s easy to make a mistake at this stage, which can hurt your PERA claim, or it can hurt your workers’ compensation claim.

Meuser Law Office, P.A., has successfully handled combined workers’ compensation and PERA Duty Disability claims on behalf of Minnesota’s injured firefighters and police officers for the last decade. When it comes to navigating the complicated rules between Minnesota PERA and workers’ compensation to ensure the best outcome on behalf of our police officer and firefighter clients, there is no law firm in the state that does a better job than Meuser Law Office, P.A. We can explain what rights you have and make recommendations to you in terms of how to best protect your rights to those benefits. The knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. can help make the process easier to navigate. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 1-877-746-5680.