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Defined Benefit Retirement Plan (DBRP) Disabiity FAQS

FAQs for Disability

Disability or disabled means a total inability of the member to perform the member's duties by reason of physical or mental incapacity. The disability must be incurred while the member is an active member and must be one of permanent duration or of extended and uncertain duration, as determined by the board on the basis of competent medical opinion.

Q:  Who is eligible for a disability retirement?

A:  Eligibility can vary by system.  For active PERS members, you must be vested with five years of membership service.  Please review the disability retirement benefits section of the handbook for your retirement system, available online http://mpera.mt.gov/mmbrHandbooks.shtml or contact MPERA for further information.

Q:  How do I file an application for disability retirement?

A:  Please call MPERA toll free at 1-877-275-7372 to request disability retirement benefit estimates.  Applications are not available online.

Q:  I receive Social Security disability benefits.  Am I automatically eligible for disability benefits through MPERA?

A:  No, eligibility for disability benefits from MPERA administered retirement systems are based on the specific rules and laws that govern those systems.

Q:  What type of documents will I need to submit?

A:  You will need to submit a disability retirement application that you will receive with your disability retirement benefit estimates.  The application  includes, but not limited to:

  • Summary of medical condition(s)
  • Physician’s statement(s) with supporting medical records
  • Signed HIPPA form
  • Copy of certified birth certificate
  • Complete employer job duty questionnaire

Q:  When should I apply for a disability retirement?  Do I have to quit working first?

A:  You should apply for disability retirement if you feel you are unable to perform your job duties due to your medical condition(s).  No, you can still be working and apply for benefits, but you will not be eligible to receive benefits until you terminate your employment.

Q:  Who approves my disability?

A:  Once your medical records are received in our office, they will be reviewed by the Board’s disability examiner and contracted medical personnel. 

Q:  When do I get my first check after I am approved?

A:  Benefits are paid on the last working day of the month following disability approval and confirmation of termination of employment.  Checks will be mailed or you will receive an automatic deposit on the last working day of the month provided all termination and eligibility requirement have been met.

Q:  How long does the application process take?

A:  The process can take three to four months.  All required documentation needs to be received in our office before a final disability determination can be made.

Q:  Do I have any recourse if I am denied?

A:  You may appeal the a disability denial decision to the Board in writing within 30 days from the denial letter date in compliance with the Montana Administrative Procedures Act. 

Q:  Is a disability benefit a life-time benefit?

A:  Your medical status can be reviewed annually or periodically to monitor your continuing medical condition.  Medical review recommendations will be made at the time the benefit is approved and are communicated at the time of disability approval.