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Bruce Rauner, Governor

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   Disability Benefits Information  


If a SERS member becomes disabled and is unable to perform the duties of their position while actively employed, they may receive disability benefits which partially replace their working income.

Non-Occupational Disability Benefits

If you become ill or injured from causes not work-related, you would be eligible for nonoccupational disability benefits if:

• You have at least 18 months of credited service with SERS, Teachers' Retirement System, or the State Universities Retirement Systems.

• You have used all your accumulated sick leave.

• You are granted a medical leave of absence.

• You have submitted the required forms to SERS.

Applying for Benefits

You must apply in order to receive benefits. It is important to file an application for a disability benefit with SERS when it appears your disability will continue beyond 30 days after your removal from the payroll. Your application must be received within 90 days from the date you were removed from the payroll to prevent a possible loss of benefits. The application process requires you to obtain a physician’s report certifying you are unable to perform in your position. You must also sign a release form giving SERS access to your medical records. If you contribute to Social Security, SERS takes the amount of your Social Security benefit into account when determining your disability payment. A SERS representative will assist you with the Social Security application process.

All benefit claims and appeals are reviewed by the SERS Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. If your claim is denied, or you question the payment of any benefit, you or your representative may file a written appeal or request a hearing before the Executive Committee.


When Payments Begin & End

Once SERS determines your eligibility, benefits begin on the latest of:

• The 31st day of absence from work because of disability (including periods when sick pay was received).

• The last day you received wages (including periods when sick pay was received).

• If your application is not received within 90-days after your removal from the payroll, your benefit will begin on the date the application is received.

Non-occupational disability benefits are payable for one-half of credited service not earned while on disability, until death, or one of the following events occurs:

Your disability ends.

• You resume employment.

• You reach age 65. (If your disability begins after age 60, benefits are payable for 5 years.)

If your disability ends and you become disabled from the same cause within 60-days after you resume state employment, the 30-day waiting period is waived. The benefit amount for the second period of disability is the same as the first.

Benefit Amount

Your disability benefit equals 50% of your average final compensation on the date you were removed from the payroll. For disability benefits, final average compensation is the rate of pay at the date of the disability, or the 48 highest consecutive months of service within the last 10 years, whichever is greater.

If you pay into Social Security and are under 65, your benefit will be reduced by the amount payable from Social Security. If you are over 65, your benefit will be reduced by the amount of pension you are eligible for from Social Security.

Termination of Disability

If your benefit is terminated because you received disability benefits for one-half of your credited service, and you are still disabled, you become eligible for a retirement pension provided:

• You are age 60 and have at least 8 years of credited service.

• You are age 55 and have at least 15 years of credited service.

• You are age 50 and have at least 20 years of credited service.

Your pension benefit will be based on your total years of credited service and your final average compensation.

Benefit Increase

Each non-occupational disability benefit paid by SERS is increased 7% on January 1 after four years of being granted the benefit. On each January 1 following the date of the 7% increase, there is a 3% benefit increase.

Service Credit

While you receive disability benefits, your SERS account will continue to be credited with service and contributions as if you were working.


Occupational Disability Benefits

Occupational disability benefits are paid if you are unable to work due to a work-related illness or injury. In order to receive occupational disability benefits from SERS you must:

• File a claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission, the Risk Management Division of your agency, or the Department of Central Management Services to determine if your disability is work-related.

• File the required forms with the Claims Division of SERS either within:

• 12 months after your removal from the payroll.

• 12 months after becoming eligible for benefits under Workers’ Compensation.

• 12 months after the Illinois Industrial Commission approves your Workers’ Compensation benefit.


Applying for Benefits

You must apply in order to receive benefits. It is important to file an application for occupational disability benefits with SERS as soon as you are removed from your agency payroll. The application process requires you to obtain a physician's report certifying you are unable to perform in your position. You must also sign a release form giving SERS access to your medical records.

All benefit claims and appeals are reviewed by the SERS Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. If your claim is denied, or you question the payment of any benefit, you or your representative may file a written appeal or request a hearing before the Executive Committee.


When Payments Begin & End

Occupational Disability Benefits Begin When:

• SERS determines you are disabled.

• You receive benefits under the Workers’ Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act.

• You are removed from your agency payroll.


Occupational Disability Benefits End When:

• Your disability ends.

• You resume employment.

• You reach age 65. (If your disability begins after age 60, benefits are payable for 5 years).

If your disability benefit is terminated because of age, or the five-year limit, you are eligible for a retirement benefit.


Benefit Amount

The disability benefit is 75% of final average compensation on the date you were removed from the payroll. For disability benefits, final average compensation is the rate of pay at the date of disability or the 48 highest consecutive months of service within the last 10 years, whichever is greater. This amount is reduced by any payments made under the Workers’ Compensation Act, or the Workers' Occupational Diseases Act.

Service Credit

While you receive disability benefits, your SERS account will continue to be credited with service and contributions as if you were working.


Benefit Increases

Each occupational disability benefit paid by SERS is increased 7% on January 1 after four years of being granted the benefit. On each January 1 following the date of the 7% increase, there is a 3% benefit increase.


Temporary Disability Benefits

This benefit is available in disputed Workers’ Compensation cases when your agency has formally denied all benefits, and an appeal has been filed with the Illinois Industrial Commission. You may be eligible for the temporary disability benefit if:

• You have at least 18 months of credited service with SERS, Teachers’, or the State Universities Retirement Systems.

• You file an application within 12 months of the date a disability results in the loss of pay.

• You have filed an appeal with the Illinois Industrial Commission.

• You have submitted the required forms to SERS.

• You have not received, or had a right to receive, any compensation for at least 30 days.

If the Workers’ Compensation benefit you are receiving is terminated, you may be eligible for temporary disability benefits if:

• You have at least 18 months of credited service with SERS, Teachers’, or the State Universities Retirement Systems.

• You have submitted the required forms to SERS.

• You have filed an appeal with the Illinois Industrial Commission, and requested an emergency hearing through the Industrial Commissions' 19B1 process.

• You have served a 150 day waiting period, or received a decision from the Illinois Industrial Commission on your emergency hearing.


Applying for Benefits

You must apply in order to receive benefits. It is important to file an application for a disability benefit with SERS after it appears your disability will continue beyond 30 days after your removal from the payroll, or when your Workers’ Compensation benefit is terminated.

Your application must be received within 12 months from the date you were removed from the payroll, or within 12 months from the denial of Workers’ Compensation benefits.

The application process requires you to obtain a physician’s report certifying you are unable to perform in your position. You must also sign a release form giving SERS access to your medical records.

All benefit claims and appeals are reviewed by the SERS Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. If your claim is denied, or you question the payment of any benefit, you or your representative may file a written appeal or request a hearing before the Executive Committee.

When Payments Begin & End

The benefit will begin on the 31st day from the date you last received, or had a right to receive, any compensation if your claim was denied by the Workers’ Compensation Act.

After your Workers’ Compensation benefit is terminated, the temporary disability benefit will begin the day following termination.

Disability benefits for all periods of disability are payable for a total period of time equal to one-half of credited service not earned while on disability, until death, or one of the following events occurs:

• Your disability ends.

• You resume gainful employment.

• You reach age 65. (If your disability began after age 60, benefits are payable for five years, subject to the one-half service credit limitation).

• A payment is made after determining the state's liability under the Workers' Compensation Act or the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act.

• A final determination is made on the member’s claim by the Illinois Industrial Commission.


Service Credit

While you receive disability benefits, your SERS account will be credited with service and contributions as if you were working.


Benefit Amount

Your disability benefit equals 50% of your average final compensation on the date you were removed from the payroll. For disability benefits, final average compensation is the rate of pay at the date of disability or the 48 highest consecutive months of service within the last 10 years, whichever is greater.

If you pay into Social Security and are under 65, your benefit will be reduced by the amount payable from your Social Security disability benefits. If you are over 65, your benefit will be reduced by the amount of pension you are eligible for from Social Security. A SERS representative will assist you with the SSA Disability application process.

SERS Recovery Rights

Once the Illinois Industrial Commission makes its final determination on a disputed claim, SERS will calculate your benefit to determine if temporary benefits must be repaid. Any member who accepts a temporary benefit acknowledges and authorizes the recovery rights of SERS.

Non-Occupational Disability Benefit

Applying for Benefits
When Payments Begin and End
Benefit Amount
Termination of Disability
Benefit Increase
Service Credit

Occupational Disability Benefit

Applying for Benefits
When Payments Begin and End
Benefit Amount
Service Credit
Benefit Increase

Temporary Disability Benefit

Applying for Benefits
When Payments Begin and End
Service Credit
Benefit Amount
SERS Recovery Rights
Member/Retiree/Survivor Menu Page
State Employees' Handbook
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