To The Point Blog

Permanent Disability Requirements Under the State Teachers Retirement System

Jan 15, 2016

A new case from the Ohio Supreme Court changes how the State Teachers Retirement Board (STRB) grants permanent disability benefits.

In State ex rel. Menz v. State Teachers Retirement Board, the court clarified what the core requirement is for teachers or administrators to qualify for permanent disability benefits. In order to qualify, an independent physician must determine that the applicant is mentally or physically disabled and unable to complete their job for twelve continuous months after filing the application for benefits.

Under Ohio law, members of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) are entitled to permanent disability benefits if they can prove that they will not be able to perform their normal job duties for at least twelve consecutive months because of a physical or mental health condition. After a member applies for disability benefits, the State Teachers Retirement Board (STRB) will request that an independent medical examiner evaluate the applicant and provide a report of her findings to the STRB. The applicant will receive the benefits if the independent medical examiner finds that the applicant is disabled and the STRB agrees with that determination.

In this case, the independent medical examiner was reluctant to recommend disability benefits because he was uncertain what the origins of the disability were, even though he acknowledged the disability existed under the terms of the law. The STRB required the applicant to undergo the examiner’s recommended treatment. The applicant had no effective change after six months of receiving the treatment and so the STRB revisited his application, eventually denying it.

Even though the court did not find a problem with the STRB referring the applicant to further treatment before making a final determination, the court held that the STRB may not deny an applicant’s application if, during the process, the independent medical examiner found a permanent disability, regardless of the origin of the disability.

If you have any questions regarding how disability benefits work under the State Teachers Retirement System, or how it involves your teachers or administrators, please contact the Education Law Team at Day Ketterer.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for any purpose. This blog is not intended to present an exhaustive summary of all applicable laws, or to take the place of legal advice.  If you have any questions regarding the law, please contact us for assistance.