Denied Accidental Disability Pension Benefits…What’s Next?

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Whether you are a member of PFRS, PERS or the TPAF, you are probably aware of what is happening.  You have applied for your disability pension and because you’ve been injured at work, you’ve applied for an accidental disability.  Eight months after you submitted your application, provided medical documentation to pensions, were evaluated by a doctor who saw you for all of 5 minutes, the medical review board has determined based on their “IME” report that you are not disabled and despite all of the medical documenation you sent in, you have been denied.  It is the path of least resistance.  The recommendation that you are not disabled OR that you are disabled but its not due to the last work accident has been sent to the pension board for their review.

These boards meet monthly and following the monthly meeting where your matter is on the agenda you will see on the website their decision and within a few days receive your denial letter.

You have been denied.  What is the next step?

The first step in this process is to appeal the decision.  The letter will tell you there are on 45 days in which to submit your appeal.  A letter should be sent Certified Mail to the particular pension board secretary within that 45 day window indicating that you wish to appeal the Board’s decision and requesting the matter be transferred to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  Procedurally, your matter will be put on the next month’s agenda and because there is an issue in dispute the board will transfer the matter to the OAL for a hearing. Your matter will be transferred and assigned to a judge and the State will assign the matter to one of its Deputy Attorney Generals.  A pre-trial telephone hearing will be scheduled, discovery will be exchanged, and eventually a hearing will be scheduled.

The problem you now face is that this process can take more than a year and while you wait, what are you supposed to do?  There are no good answers to this question.  Plus, the Pension Board’s decision may have an impact on your workers’ compensation case and your application and receipt of social security disability benefits.  The problem you face is that your workers’ compensation attorney focuses on your workers’ compensation case.  Your social security disability attorney focuses on the acquisition of those benefits.  You need an attorney who not only has experience in each of these areas but more importantly has experience in how they interact with each other.

If this has happened to you, I suggest contacting our office through our website or by calling the office at 609-246-0668 and scheduling an appointment to discuss your options.