Obtaining Disabilty Benefits From the Maryland State Retirement Agency

In Maryland, many state employees are eligible for disability retirements benefits if they are no longer able to work for a state agency or other government agencies, such as Baltimore City Public Schools.  There are three types of disability retirement benefits: Ordinary Disability Benefits, Accidental Disability Benefits, and Special/Accidental Disability Benefits.  

Ordinary Disability Benefits are disability benefits received because an individual cannot work because they are disabled.  Typically, claims for Ordinary Disability Benefits have to filed within four years after paid employment ends. Individuals who are part of the Teachers’ Retirement Plan have five years to apply for benefits.

Accidental Disability Benefits are awarded when the cause of the injury occurred in the performance of the claimant’s work duties at a definite time and place.  The disability cannot stem from willful negligence.  Moreover, the claimant must be totally and permanently unable to perform their job as a natural and proximate result of the accident.   Claims for Accidental Disability Benefits have to filed within five years of the accident occurring.

Special/Accidental Disability Benefits are Similar to Accidental Disability Benefits, but are available for State Police or individuals participating in the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System (LEOPS).  To be awarded these benefits a claimant needs to be totally and permanently disabled for duty and the disability needs to arise out of and in the course of the performance of their job, without any willful negligence on the part of the claimant. 

When applying for Accidental Disability or Special/Accidental Disability Benefits, the Maryland State Retirement Agency should automatically consider you for Ordinary Disability if you have at least five years of eligibility service.  However, the State Retirement Agency has been known not to consider applicants that do not check box on the application for Ordinary Disability Retirement. Moreover, if you apply for Ordinary Disability, and you do not simultaneously apply for Accidental Disability or Special/Accidental Disability, you cannot request Accidental Disability or Special/Accidental Disability for an injury that occurred prior to the application date for Ordinary Disability.  Checking the right boxes on the application is critical.

Collecting medical records will be an important part of the application process.  These records, along with a narrative that you provide the State Retirement Agency will be how Maryland State Retirement Agency decides whether are you are eligible for benefits.  If you are denied benefits after you first apply, you have the right to appeal the denial.  As part of the appeal, you will have a hearing to determine if you should be awarded benefits.

Once awarded benefits you will have multiple options as to how to select your benefits.  It is important that you select the benefits that you want correctly the first time.  Once the State issues you a check, the State does not have to let you change your mind as to the amount of benefits you receive.  Plans will vary in terms of whether you can name a beneficiary or medical coverage.

If your employer is forcing you to retire or quit, it is important that not only do you apply for the required disability benefits, but that you also submit certain forms, such as Form 129, prior to the date you are forced to retire.  If Form 129, is not submitted prior to the date you are forced to retire, you may become ineligible for benefits, even if you submitted your application date before the retirement date.

If you need someone experienced in this matter to help you obtain disability benefits from the Maryland State Retirement Agency, please contact the Law Office of Phillip E. Chalker at phillip@attorneychalker.com or (443) 961-7345..