Applying for a Disability Retirement is an extensive process that requires a comprehensive evaluation of your Disability Retirement application. Below is an outline of what you may expect:
Step 1: Contact SBCERA– To begin the process and request the required forms and information, please contact SBCERA at (909) 885-7980 or Toll Free (877) 722-3721.
Step 2: Submit Completed Forms for Review– Provide your completed Attending or Forensic Physician’s Report to SBCERA. You must also submit Medical Release forms and a Disability Retirement Hospital/Physician Listing. SBCERA will conduct a review of all forms to ensure they are completed in accordance with Article VIII of the SBCERA By-laws. An initial Disability Retirement appointment cannot be scheduled until all properly completed reports and forms are received and approved.
Step 3: Schedule and Attend a Consultation Appointment with SBCERA – SBCERA will notify you in writing confirming your Physician’s Report and forms have been approved. Once notified, you can contact our office to schedule your initial Disability Retirement appointment. Prior to attending your appointment, you must complete all forms, but you must wait to sign and date each form at the SBCERA office where an SBCERA staff member will review the completed forms.
Step 4: Document Collection and Processing– SBCERA staff collects and assembles medical and personnel documents pertaining to the Disability Retirement application.
Step 5: Independent Medical Examination– You may be required to submit to one or more independent medical examinations based on your claimed injury and/or illness.
Step 6: Comprehensive Medical Review and Preparation for the SBCERA Board of Retirement– The SBCERA Medical Advisor conducts a comprehensive review of the records pertaining to the application and advises the SBCERA Board on medical matters. In addition, Staff reviews all records and prepares the recommendation to the SBCERA Board of Retirement.
Step 7: SBCERA Board of Retirement Initial Hearing– The Disability Retirement application is considered by the SBCERA Board of Retirement.
NOTE: Generally, your Disability Retirement application must be submitted while you are still in service as an active member or within four months after discontinuance of service.
Preparing for Your Appointment
As a first step, you will need to obtain a medical examination by a duly licensed physician, at your expense. Your packet will contain a “Physician’s Report” form, along with instructions for completing it and a job description for your position that the physician can refer to. For SBCERA to accept an application for Disability Retirement, the physician must note that you are "permanently incapacitated".
When the Physician’s Report is completed, submit it to SBCERA. In addition, you must also submit Medical Release forms and a Disability Retirement Hospital/Physician Listing. SBCERA will conduct a review of these items to ensure they are properly completed. An initial Disability Retirement appointment cannot be scheduled until a properly completed Physician’s Report and forms are received and approved.
SBCERA will notify you in writing confirming your Physician’s Report and forms have been completed. Once notified, you can contact our office to schedule your initial Disability Retirement appointment. Prior to attending the appointment, you must complete all forms enclosed in your Disability Retirement packet. The following forms will be included:
- "Authorization to Obtain and Release Records and Information" (for release of medical records and any workers’ compensation files or Disability Retirements from other systems);
- "Disability Retirement Hospital/Physician Listing" (for contact information of all hospitals and physicians who have attended, treated, examined or evaluated you); and
- "Disability Retirement Applicant Statement of Facts and Circumstances" (for required information about your situation as well as any input you wish to provide on your incapacity).
Signing the Forms
You must wait until you are at the SBCERA office to sign and date each form, since some of them require witnessing. The SBCERA staff can serve as witnesses. Alternatively, you may sign the forms in the presence of a notary public at your expense.
When you appear for your Disability Retirement appointment, make sure you bring along the forms mentioned previously and that you have filled them out completely, including entering your home address on the “Applicant’s Statement of Facts and Circumstances.” Providing your attorney’s address is not sufficient. SBCERA will explain the entire Disability Retirement process to you, including related issues.
After Your Appointment
Once SBCERA has helped you complete and submit your application, you may be required to report to a physician or physicians designated by SBCERA for additional medical evaluations at SBCERA's expense.
Action by the Board of Retirement
SBCERA staff will provide written notification of the date and time of your disability case review to you and/or your designated representative. You and/or your designated representative will be provided with copies of all information given to the SBCERA Board of Retirement in the review of your case. If your representative is an attorney and psychiatric reviews are involved, those reviews will only be sent to the attorney. Your Disability Retirement hearing will not be open to the public.
The Board will determine whether you are permanently incapacitated for performance of your assigned duties and whether your disability is service-connected or nonservice-connected. You will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision. If you are a General member, the Board may also determine whether you are incapable of gainful employment and thus a candidate for the supplemental disability retirement allowance. You will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision.
If you disagree with the initial decision, you will have 31 calendar days from the decision date to seek Administrative Review (reconsideration). You may submit additional medical records, statements from co-workers, or any other proof supporting your claimed disability. If you disagree with the decision the Board makes at this second hearing, a formal hearing will be scheduled. The Formal Hearing stage is the last phase of the disability process. A neutral hearing officer will review all of the evidence previously submitted. Witnesses may be called. It is suggested that you hire legal assistance to present your case. If your case is denied, you have 90 calendar days to file for judicial review in Superior Court.
The Disability Process Timeline
The Board of Retirement generally will hold a hearing on your Disability Retirement application four to eight months after the application has been filed. If the Board approves your application, your Disability Retirement benefit will be paid from the later of two dates: the date you filed your application or the last date for which you received compensation (including sick leave, vacation, and, for Safety members, 4850 compensation).
NOTE: When you apply for a Disability Retirement, you may apply for a Service Retirement if you are eligible. If your Disability Retirement application is subsequently approved, you will be reclassified as a disability retiree. If it is not approved, you will remain a retiree—you may not cancel your Service Retirement.