Virginia Retirement System Disability Benefits
If you work for the Commonwealth of Virginia or a local government agency or other employer that offers benefits through the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), you may be entitled to VRS disability benefits if you are no longer able to work.
The Virginia Retirement System defines a disability as a medical condition that prevents you from performing your job. Additionally, according to VRS, a disability is likely to be permanent.
If you are a VRS employee and meet all of the requirements for VRS disability, you may be able to receive benefits that would allow you to basically retire on VRS disability, even if you haven’t reached retirement age or have sufficient service years.
Who Is Eligible For VRS Disability?
Eligibility for VRS disability benefits is available to:
1) Teachers, administrators, managers and clerical employees of a local public school division;
2) State employees hired prior to January 1, 1999 who did not choose to transfer to the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP); or,
3) An employee of a VRS participating political subdivision, such as a city, county, town, authority, or commission, including school maintenance, janitorial or cafeteria employee or a school bus driver.
Types of disabilities eligible for VRS coverage include: a physical illness, a cognitive condition such as a loss or deterioration in intellectual capacity (for example Alzheimer’s Disease), an occupational illness or injury which occurs on the job, and chronic conditions such as diabetes or mental illnesses which progress such that you can no longer perform your job.
What Is The Process For Obtaining VRS Disability?
The process for obtaining VRS Disability benefits is determined by our Virginia State legislators and is published in the Code of Virginia.
Initially, the VRS applicant submits a claim form to the Virginia Retirement System1. 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 to apply for VRS disability. After those 24 months, however, your chance to apply for VRS disability expires.
It is very important that you spend time on your VRS disability application, because missing or insufficient information can delay the processing of your claim. Insufficient applications can even cause your claim to be denied.
Some of the information you will be required to report in your application includes:
- Job duties you can’t perform any more due to your disability
- Whether you were hospitalized for your condition
- The names and contact information for all of your doctors
- Whether you have applied for Social Security Disability or workers’ compensation
In addition to these items, each of your doctors will need to complete a form and provide medical evidence about your condition as well as how your condition affects your job duties.
Your employer will also be required to provide information to your VRS disability lawyer about the physical requirements of your job and whether your duties have been modified in any way because of your condition.
Independent Medical Review Board
VRS then submits the claim to an independent medical board to make a recommendation on the disability claim. The medical board considers the following information in determining your eligibility for benefits:
1. Is your condition likely to be permanent?
2. Are you receiving medical care for your condition?
3. Are you complying with your treatment program?
4. Has VRS received your medical information?
5. Is the medical information objective?
6. Does your medical diagnosis relate directly to your ability to do your job?
Usually, the decision about whether an employee has a medical condition meeting VRS requirements is determined after an employee’s claim has been denied twice. After the second denial, the claim is then 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 get a lawyer to help you with this stage of the process. You need an experienced VRS lawyer to 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 stage.
Why Choose The Ritchie Law Firm
Applying for VRS Disability benefits can be a complex and time consuming process. The Ritchie Law Firm has successfully represented many clients seeking VRS benefits. Because the process can be so confusing, it is easy to make errors to leave out something that VRS believes is important.
Making a mistake on your application or at the independent fact finding level can be disastrous for your claim. Your VRS disability team at the Ritchie Law Firm has the experience to handle your VRS disability case and win your benefits for you.
Talk to us about your case. We’ll talk to you for free with no strings attached. There’s no pressure to hire us if you’d rather handle your case on your own. But, it’s most important that you get the information you need to make sure your VRS disability claim is handled properly without costly mistakes.