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Disability Retirement Benefits

If you develop an illness or sustain an injury that prevents you from working in any gainful occupation, you may be eligible for PEERS disability benefits. The cause of your disability does not have to be work-related.

Disability benefits are paid for life, as long as you meet ongoing medical and earned income requirements and do not exceed the limits on working after disability retirement.

  • Eligibility

    Eligibility Requirements

    To be eligible to receive PEERS disability retirement benefits, you must submit a Disability Retirement Application and meet the following requirements:

    • End all PEERS-covered employment
    • Have at least five years of PEERS-covered employment
    • Be under age 60
    • Become permanently disabled while working in PEERS-covered employment or within one year after, if the condition causing the disability began while you were employed
    • Be incapable of earning a livelihood in any gainful occupation. A gainful occupation is one that replaces not less than 75% of the average of your last three years of salary and is reasonably found in your geographical area as established by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Medical and Income Requirements

    Disability retirees under the age of 60 are required to provide documentation showing that they continue to meet eligibility requirements for disability benefits. If these requirements are not met, your benefits will be stopped and a recovery may be necessary.

    • Medical Certification: Until you reach age 60, you may be required to complete a Medical Certification of Disability Status form. If a medical certification shows that you may have recovered from your disability prior to age 60, PEERS may request a follow-up physical examination.
    • Annual Earned Income Verification: Until you reach age 60, you must also complete an annual Affidavit of Earned Income and, if you have earned income, submit income verification documents (W-2’s, pay stubs, etc.) to verify you did not exceed the earnings limit. The earnings limit used by PEERS is the substantial gainful activity limit for non-blind Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which is set by the Social Security Administration. The limit for 2023 is $17,640.
  • Applying for Disability
    • You must apply for disability retirement benefits. 
    • Please contact us as soon as you know the disability will result in the end of your employment.
    • You must provide medical records as part of the application process.

    When we receive your application, we contact your employer to verify your last day of covered employment. For this reason, you should inform your employer that you are filing for disability retirement, but that you won't know if it is approved until after you file.

    Need help filing for retirement? Contact us with questions or to set up a counseling session.

  • Working After Disability Retirement

    If you are thinking of going back to work while receiving PEERS disability benefits, it is important to understand how working after retirement can affect the payment of your disability benefits.

     The effect of work on your disability benefits depends primarily on whether you have reached age 60. 

    Before age 60, your disability benefits stop if:

    • You are employed in any capacity for a PEERS-covered employer.
    • You are employed in any type of non-PEERS-covered employment and have earnings in excess of the substantial gainful activity limit for non-blind Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which is set by the Social Security Administration.
    • You request a trial return to work. While you work on a trial basis, your disability benefits are put on hold. If you are unable to complete the trial, PEERS will request a medical examination to determine your disability status.

    At or after age 60:

    • You can work for any employer that is not covered by PEERS with no effect on your PEERS benefits, regardless of hours worked.
    • If you are self-employed as an independent contractor or consultant (based on IRS guidelines) after retirement, this also has no effect on your benefits.
    • You may also work on a part-time basis or as a temporary-substitute for a PEERS-covered employer in any position up to 550 hours each school year and continue to receive your monthly disability benefits. Learn more about the limit

    Disability retirees age 60 or older may work full-time for up to a total of two years at PEERS-covered employers that have declared a critical shortage of employees, without losing PEERS benefits.