For Maryland employees and employees of local government agencies that participate in the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, the process of applying for disability retirement presents several unique challenges. For the rest of this article, I’ll be referring only to Employees of the State of Maryland. However, please note that some county or city employees participate in the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System. If you are an employee of any local government agency and considering disability retirement, please contact your HR department to find out what disability retirement package applies to you.
Your first step should be gathering information about your disability retirement package as an employee of the State of Maryland. Many employees of the State of Maryland obtain advice particular to long and short term disability insurance plans or germane to social security disability benefits. Those disability claims are different than the disability retirement claims for employees of the State of Maryland. Please don’t confuse the challenges and obstacles of those disability claims with the requirements for disability retirement for Maryland State employees.
Second, it’s essential to know that disability retirement for Maryland State employees is divided into two different claims: accidental disability retirement and ordinary disability retirement. Ordinary disability retirement requires that you be permanently disabled from your job due to your medical condition. Accidental disability retirement requires that you be permanently disabled from your job solely due to an injury that occurred at work. An application for accidental disability retirement if far more in-depth and often requires a detailed statement from your treating physician as to exactly why you are disabled from your position. In other words, proving causation is key to an accidental disability retirement claim. In contrast, causation is mainly irrelevant for ordinary disability retirement claims.
Third, it’s critical to know whether you can file for ordinary or accidental disability retirement. For accidental claims, there is no service requirement, meaning you do not have to work for the State for any number of years to file this claim. For ordinary disability retirement claims, in most instances, the employee must have been employed by the State for five years to file a claim. Also, related to this issue of coverage is also the estimate of the benefit. You must request an estimate of your benefit from your HR department. In most instances, the monthly benefit paid to you for an accidental disability is about double what you receive if you only are awarded ordinary disability retirement.
Fourth, you don’t have to file two separate claims if you believe that both definitions of disability apply to you. A claim for accidental disability retirement is also a claim for ordinary disability retirement. It is possible to apply for accidental and be approved for ordinary disability, all while having your accidental disability claim be denied. This actually makes logical sense when you think back to the definitions of disability of each claim. To be approved for accidental disability retirement, all the requirements of ordinary disability must be satisfied.
The fifth step is to speak in detail with your physician or physicians. It always surprises me how many potential clients consult with me and ask whether it’s OK to talk with their doctor regarding disability. The answer is yes! There is undoubtedly a courteous and appropriate way to have this conversation. Still, it’s critical that you, as the patient, know what your doctor thinks about your permanent restrictions and limitations. In many instances, patients can learn of additional treatment possibilities through the course of having this conversation with your doctor.
Lastly, it is best practice to consult an attorney before filing your claim file disability retirement. The application forms can be confusing, and getting off on the right foot with the Medical Board of the Retirement and Pension System is always a great idea. If interested in a free consultation regarding disability retirement for Maryland State employees, please contact me.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Andalman & Flynn, P.C. serves clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, offering compassionate, quality service and results-driven representation across a broad range of legal areas. With a concentration on disability benefits law and family law, the firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and they are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit our website or call 301.563.6685.