16 CSR 10-6.070 Disability Retirement

Title 16—RETIREMENT SYSTEMS
Division 10—The Public School Retirement System of Missouri
Chapter 6— The Public Education Employee Retirement System of Missouri

PROPOSED AMENDMENT

16 CSR 10-6.070 Disability Retirement.  The Public School Retirement System is amending this rule.

PURPOSEThe Public School Retirement System (PSRS) is amending this rule regarding disability retirement provisions for the Public Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri (PEERS). The amendments reflect a few policy changes recently approved by the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees including setting forth what constitutes "earning a livelihood" under Section 169.663 RSMo. for PEERS disability retirees and removing the automatic approval of PEERS disability retirement when the member is approved for federal Social Security Disability benefits. The amendment also includes provisions regarding a new verification of income process to be implemented by PEERS and provides for the use of multiple medical advisors in the application process.  The amendment also removes unnecessary language, clarifies language regarding existing PEERS' policies and practices, and reorders some provisions to provide for a more logical flow. 

(1) A member claiming disability retirement must file an [written] application for retirement with the board of trustees on a form provided by the board. [If a member, because of physical or mental disability, is unable to make application for disability retirement, the written application may be completed by a guardian or trustee designated by a court, and the completed application shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the court order designating the guardian or trustee. If a member indicates in his/her application for disability retirement that s/he has applied for disability benefits provided by the Social Security Act, the Award Letter, or certified copy thereof, issued by the Social Security Administration, will serve as evidence that disability exists.]

(2) [If a member is not eligible for disability benefits, as provided by the Social Security Act, because of insufficient coverage, t] The board of trustees shall designate [a] one or more medical advisers whose duties[y] shall be to review and determine eligibility for all disability retirement  [assign] applicants, [for disability benefits to] including assigning physicians for examinations and reports, when necessary. The board of trustees shall pay the fees of the assigned examining physicians and shall pay the medical advisers a fee for each application.  The medical advisors shall report [to the board] on the findings of the examining physicians and the board of trustees or designated staff shall act on these findings. [The recipient of disability benefits may be required to submit to periodic examinations until age sixty (60) by physicians selected and paid by the board, provided there shall not be more than two (2) examinations in any year.

(3) The board of trustees shall pay the fees of the examiners and shall pay the medical adviser a fee for each application for which an evaluation is made.]

(3) The earliest date on which disability retirement may become effective is the first day of the calendar month following the calendar month in which the services of the member are terminated, or the first day of the month following the month in which the claim is approved, whichever is later; except that the earliest date on which disability retirement may become effective for a member retiring after receiving credit for a year of membership service shall be July 1, the first day of the school year following the termination of services.  Termination from employment covered by the retirement system prior to the effective date of disability retirement is required to be eligible for a disability retirement benefit.

(4) The first payment after approval shall include any benefits which have accrued between the date of disability and the date of the first payment, provided, however, that benefits shall not accrue for more than sixty (60) days prior to the date of filing the application.

(5) Until the member receiving disability benefits reaches age sixty (60), the member may be required to submit yearly Certification of Disability Status forms as completed by the member's physician or the member may be required to obtain periodic examinations by physicians selected and paid by the board, provided there shall not be more than two (2) examinations in any year.

[(4) If disability shall cease to exist before the recipient of the disability benefits reaches age sixty (60), as evidenced by the cessation of benefits by the Social Security Administration or by examination by physicians selected and paid by the board of trustees, his/her disability benefits shall cease and his/her membership status as of the date of his/her disability retirement shall be restored. If the member is required to submit to a periodic examination and the member fails to submit to the examination or provide the board of trustees with a completed Certification of Disability Status form, the member's disability benefit shall be suspended until such certification of the member's continued disability is received by the board of trustees.

(5) The payment of the first disability benefits to a member shall be made not later than the calendar month immediately following the month in which the claim is approved. The first payment after approval shall include any benefits which have accrued between the date of disability and the date of the first payment, provided, however, that payment shall not be made for such time as the member is receiving any salary from an employer, and provided that benefits shall not accrue for more than sixty (60) days prior to the date of filing application.]

(6) Any [person] member who is receiving a disability retirement allowance from the retirement system and who has attained age sixty (60) may be employed in any capacity for, and receive income of any amount from, any employer except a school district included in the retirement system. [Notwithstanding any provision of section 169.660, RSMo, to the contrary, a]Any such [person] member may be employed in a district included in the retirement system [on a parttime or temporary-substitute basis up to a total of five hundred fifty (550) hours in a school year] without a discontinuance of the retirement allowance if such employment does not exceed the limitation on hours worked as set forth in section 169.660, RSMo, and 16 CSR 10-6.060(4).

(7) Any [person] member who is receiving a disability retirement allowance from the retirement system and who has not attained age sixty (60) may not be employed in any capacity by a district included in the retirement system and continue to receive the retirement allowance. Any such person may not be employed in any capacity for any other employer, the compensation for which employment would constitute a livelihood, and continue to receive the retirement allowance. [The executive director, and/or the board of trustees, shall determine what constitutes a livelihood in such instance.] The board of trustees will determine that a member who is receiving a disability retirement allowance is earning a livelihood for any given year when the member earns more than twelve times the Substantial Gainful Activity monthly limit for non-blind Social Security Disability Insurance recipients for that year. Income is earned for purposes of this section when it is received as a result of wages, including bonuses, commissions or severance pay, or is net earnings from self-employment.  Investment income, pensions, capital gains, legal settlements or judgments, rental income that is not a part of self-employment (e.g., someone who is in the business of renting property), support or alimony payments, and inheritances are some examples of unearned income which would not count toward the earnings limit.   The recipient of a disability retirement allowance [benefits] who has not attained age sixty (60) shall be required to submit an annual verification of income and may be required to submit tax returns, W-2 forms, pay[check] stubs, and other forms of documentation as evidence of continued eligibility for disability retirement.

(8) If the member fails to provide the board of trustees with the completed Certification of Disability Status form or obtain a periodic examination as required by section (5), fails to provide the income verification as required by section (7), or earns a livelihood in excess of the limits set forth in section (7), the member's disability benefit shall be suspended until such certification of the member's continued disability can be made by the board of trustees or until the member reaches age sixty (60).

([8]9) A recipient of disability benefits may make a written request to the board of trustees to return to full-time or part-time employment on a trial basis. The written request shall include the proposed employer and the proposed start date of employment. The written request shall then either be approved or denied by the board of trustees. If the request is approved, the recipient's disability benefit shall be placed on hold by the board of trustees for the duration of the trial period, which is not to exceed twelve (12) calendar months. If the recipient is unable to complete his or her trial basis employment period, the recipient must provide written documentation to the board of trustees stating that he or she is not able to complete the trial period. The board of trustees may require the recipient to again submit to a periodic examination by physicians selected by the board of trustees to determine if the recipient remains incapable of earning a livelihood in any occupation.  If determined to still be incapable of earning a livelihood in any occupation, the recipient shall again be considered a disability retiree and receive a disability retirement benefit without resubmitting an Application for Disability Retirement; any contributions paid to the retirement system by the recipient and his or her employer during the incomplete trial basis employment period will be refunded to the employer, which shall then refund its employee for any employee-paid contributions. The recipient shall receive no additional service credit for the incomplete trial basis employment period. If the recipient does successfully complete his or her trial basis employment, his or her disability retirement will be terminated and his or her membership status as of the date of the member's disability retirement shall be restored; any contributions paid by the recipient and his or her employer to the retirement system [by the recipient and his or her employer] during the trial basis employment period will be retained by the retirement system and applied to the member account as payment toward any disability benefits paid during the member's retirement.[, and t]The recipient will be granted service credit for the trial basis employment period.  In no event shall the recipient receive a benefit payment in the same calendar month in which the recipient either works for his or her trial basis employer or receives service credit.

([9]10) [The surviving spouse or children of a deceased] Upon the death of a disability retiree, [or both, shall have the same rights to benefits under section 169.670, RSMo, as does the surviving spouse or children, or both,] his or her beneficiary is entitled to the same benefits as the beneficiary of a member who dies while employed in a district included in the retirement system as outlined under section 169.670 RSMo.

AUTHORITY: section 169.610, RSMo Supp. 2012.* Original rule filed Dec. 19, 1975, effective Jan. 1, 1976. Amended: Filed June 15, 1994, effective Nov. 30, 1994. Amended: Filed Oct. 15, 1997, effective April 30, 1998. Amended: Filed Jan. 4, 2010, effective July 1, 2010. Amended: Filed Feb. 15, 2013, effective July 30, 2013. Amended: Filed May 20, 2020.

*Original authority: 169.610, RSMo 1965, amended 1977, 2005.

PUBLIC COST: This proposed amendment will not cost state agencies or political subdivisions more than five hundred dollars ($500) in the aggregate.

PRIVATE COST:  This proposed amendment will not cost private entities more than five hundred dollars ($500) in the aggregate.

NOTICE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS: Anyone may file a statement in support of or in opposition to this proposed amendment with the Public School Retirement System of Missouri, attn: General Counsel, at P.O. Box 268, Jefferson City, MO  65102.  To be considered, comments must be received within thirty (30) days after publication of this notice in the Missouri Register.  No public hearing is scheduled.