PERA Police and Fire Plan Duty Disability benefits are tax-free disability benefits, payable at a base rate of 60% of a disabled firefighter or police officer’s average high five salary for five years, or through age 55, whichever is longer. PERA Police and Fire Regular Disability benefits are disability benefits payable at a base rate of 45% of a disabled firefighter or police officer’s average high five salary for five years, or though age 55, whichever is longer.
Among other requirements and limitations, Minnesota police officers and firefighters, who have more than 20 years of service must apply for Duty Disability benefits before age 55. Police officers and firefighters who have more than 15 years of service must apply for Regular Disability benefits before age 55. In other words, a police officer or firefighter who is over the age of 55 can still apply for Duty Disability if he or she has less than 20 years of service, or Regular Disability if he or she has less than 15 years of service.
After age 55, in most cases, the actual amount of the benefit for PERA Duty Disability benefits and a regular PERA Retirement pension is the same. However, Duty Disability benefits are non-taxable, while Retirement benefits are taxable. The tax advantages of a Duty Disability benefit versus a Retirement benefit can be worth tens of thousands of dollars over the course of several years.
Minnesota Police Officers and Firefighters who are ineligible for Duty Disability benefits due to the age and service limitation requirements, are still eligible for Continuation of Health Insurance Coverage under Minn. Stat. § 299A.465, if they otherwise meet the duty disability criterion. This benefit requires that the employer continue health insurance coverage for the disabled police officer or firefighter through age 65. In other words, even if you can’t apply for a Duty Disability benefit because you’re over age 55, you may still be eligible Continuation of Health Insurance Coverage.
In the case of the firefighter I mentioned above, ultimately I believe we'll be able to assist her in procuring Health Care Continuation benefits, in addition to workers' compensation benefits, even though she cannot apply for PERA Duty Disability benefits.
The moral of the story is, if you are a Minnesota police officer or firefighter and you are considering retiring from service due to the effects of an in-the-line-of-duty injury, don’t wait until you hit age 55 to evaluate your potential PERA Duty Disability claim!
Meuser & Associate proudly represents dozens of police officers and firefighters throughout the state of Minnesota. We’ve successfully procured PERA Duty Disability benefits and Continuation of Health Insurance Coverage benefits for dozens of police officers, corrections officers, and firefighters.
Here are a few examples of our recent successes:
- We secured Permanent and Total PERA Duty Disability benefits and Continuation of Health Insurance Coverage benefits on behalf of a firefighter who was over the age of 55, but had less than 20 years of service, after he sustained a career-ending low back injury.
- We were awarded Duty Disability benefits and Continuation of Health Insurance Coverage benefits for a firefighter who sustained a low back injury which required surgery. We also secured a large workers’ compensation settlement on his behalf.
- We were able to secure an award of PERA Duty Disability Benefits and Continuation of Health Insurance benefits for a police officer who was over the age of 55, but had less than 20 years of service, when he sustained disabling knee injuries while attempting to stop a fleeing suspect.
- We were awarded PERA Duty Disability Benefits and Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits on behalf of a disabled police officer who injured her back when she was involved in a motor vehicle collision while responding to a call for back up for a police pursuit.
- We secured Duty Disability Benefits and Continued Health Insurance benefits on behalf of a police officer who had developed post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of his involvement in several shooting incidents.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Jen Yackley or Ron Meuser, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.