If you work for the Commonwealth of Virginia or a local government or other employer which offers benefits through the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), you may be entitled to VRS disability benefits if you become unable to work. The Virginia Retirement System defines a disability under its plan as a medical condition which prevents you from performing your job and is likely to be permanent. If you are a VRS employee and meet the criteria for VRS disability, you may be able to receive benefits to retire on VRS disability.
You can apply for VRS disability from the first day of your covered employment or within 90 days of your last day of employment. If you are on leave without pay, you have up to 24 consecutive months of being on leave without pay to apply for VRS disability retirement. After those 24 months, however, your option to apply for VRS disability expires.
It is very important that you spend time on your VRS disability application, since missing or insufficient information may delay the processing of your application or cause the application to be denied. Some of the information you will be required to report in your application includes job duties you can no longer perform due to your disability, whether you were hospitalized for your condition, names and contact information for all of your doctors, whether you have applied for Social Security Disabililty or workers’ compensation. Additionally, each of your doctors must complete a form and provide medical evidenced about your condition as well as how your condition affects your job duties.
Your employer will also be required to provide information to the VRS lawyer about the physical requirements of your job duties and whether your duties have been modified in any way because of your condition.
Generally, the decision concerning whether an employee has a medical condition which meets the VRS criteria is determined after an employee’s claim has been denied twice and then finally appealed to a VRS lawyer who acts as an “independent fact finder.” If your case is denied and you appeal to the independent fact finder level, it is important that you secure your own lawyer to help present your case. The fact finder phase may require that additional evidence be submitted and witnesses be called. Also, there are numerous procedural rules that must be followed at this hearing stage.
Applying for VRS disability can be a complex and time consuming process. The Ritchie Law Firm has successfully represented clients seeking VRS benefits. Because the process can be so confusing, it is easy to make errors or leave out something which VRS thinks is important. Making a mistake on the application or at the independent fact finding level can be disastrous for your claim. The legal team at the Ritchie Law Firm has the experience to handle your VRS disability case and get you the benefits you are seeking. Talk to us about your case. We’ll talk to you for free with no strings attached. There will be no pressure to hire us if you’d rather handle the case on your own. But, most importantly, is that you get the information you need to make sure your VRS disability claim is handled properly without costly mistakes.