No one ever expects to have a disabling accident or illness, and we hope this never happens to any of us. But in case it does, the Teachers’ Retirement System offers some significant financial protections.
Accidents in the line of duty
One form of disability protection is for members who have accidents while on the job. In the 10 years from 2004 through 2013, a total of 381 of our colleagues were so severely injured while doing their jobs that they were unable to return to work and were therefore granted accident-in-the-line-of-duty disability retirements.
Accidents can befall brand-new TRS members as well as longtime members, so there is no minimum years-of-service requirement for an accident disability retirement.
To apply, you would need to submit both a personal report of disability and a report from your physician. After applying, you would be examined by the TRS’ medical board. The medical board recommends whether to grant or deny a disability retirement.
It is also essential that the accident that caused the disability be reported in writing to the employer shortly after it occurs. So if you have a disabling accident, be sure to talk to your chapter leader to make sure that the accident is officially recorded and all time limits are met. Your chapter leader will refer you to the UFT pension department, and it is very important that you then keep in contact with it.
The amount of this benefit under Tier IV or Tier VI is equal to a pension of two-thirds of your final average salary plus an annuity based on any annuity savings accumulation fund you may have. The pension portion of your monthly benefit would be tax-free although taxes would be payable on your annuity portion. The allowance under this benefit lasts until a member recovers or for a lifetime if the disabling condition persists.
Ordinary disability retirement
The second form of disability retirement is referred to as ordinary disability retirement. To qualify for this benefit, a member must have 10 years of credited service and suffer from a physical or mental condition that makes it impossible to perform his or her work duties.
Disability retirement is one of the most valuable protections offered by the TRS. In the 10 years from 2004 through 2013, a total of 1,725 members were granted these ordinary disability benefits.
As with accident-in-the-line-of-duty disability retirement, the application for an ordinary disability retirement would require submission of a personal report of disability and a report from your physician. After applying, you would be examined by the TRS’ medical board, which would recommend whether to grant or deny the benefit.
An ordinary disability retirement paid under a Tier IV or Tier VI is equal to either one-third of your final average salary or 1/60th of your FAS multiplied by your years of total service credit, whichever is greater. You would also receive an annuity based on any annuity savings accumulation fund balance you may have.
UFT members with a disability retirement can also apply for Social Security disability payments. Tier IV and Tier VI members who qualify for Social Security can collect both their ordinary disability retirement allowance and Social Security.
Lump-sum disability benefit
If you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of one year or less, you may be eligible to receive a lump-sum disability benefit. This payment would equal the amount that would be payable as a death benefit if you died on your last day of active service.
If you receive a lump-sum disability benefit, you would not receive a retirement allowance and your survivors would not receive a death benefit. You would collect the benefit while you are alive, which could help to pay for any large medical expenses not covered by insurance.
More information on these three disability benefits is available on the TRS website at https://www.trsnyc.org/trsweb/publications/brochures.html.
TRS update for Tier VI members
The rate for contributions to the Qualified Pension Plan, which is based on members’ contractual salaries, changed as of April 1 for the more than 2,200 members in Tier VI.
Members affected were notified in March before the change began.
|The unit value is computed during the latter part of each month. Recent values are:|
For more information, see Pension.