Home/Frequently Asked Questions/Florida Retirement System Disability (FRS) Frequently Asked Questions
Florida Retirement System Disability (FRS) Frequently Asked Questions2022-08-05T13:00:18+00:00

Florida Retirement System Disability (FRS) Frequently Asked Questions

What types of disability are available under the Florida Disability Retirement System?2022-07-01T14:50:18+00:00

ELIGIBILITY FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS
Disability coverage is available for active members of the Pension Plan and Investment Plan. If you are a retiree of either plan with renewed membership or if you are in DROP, you are not eligible for disability benefits. To qualify for disability retirement under the Pension Plan or Investment Plan, you must be totally and permanently disabled, that is, prevented by reason of a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment from performing useful and efficient service as an officer or employee. Your disabling injury or illness must have occurred or become symptomatic before you terminated covered employment.

Reference: Sections 121.091(4)(a)-(c), 121.4501(16), and 121.591(2),
Florida Statutes
Rule 60S-4.007, Florida Administrative Code

  1. In-line-of-duty disability retirement covers you from your first day of employment. But your injury or illness has to arise out of and in the actual performance of your job duties.  You have to apply and your doctors must say in writing that you are totally and permanently disabled due to an on-the-job injury or illness.  You also must give the Florida Retirement System a copy of the Notice of Injury, as filed with Workers Compensation.
  2. You must have eight years of creditable service to be eligible for regular disability retirement, unless you were terminated prior to July 1, 2001, when you needed ten years of creditable service to be eligible for regular disability. Generally, Pension Plan members initially enrolled prior to July 1, 2011, vest for service retirement with six years of creditable service. If the members were initially enrolled on or after July 1, 2011, the vesting requirement is eight years of creditable service. If you are vested for service retirement under the Pension Plan but have fewer than eight years of creditable service, you may be eligible to purchase optional service credit to meet the vesting requirement for regular disability retirement, such as credit for an approved leave of absence, military service, in-state service, or out-of-state public service.
How do they define Disability?2022-07-01T14:51:25+00:00

Disability is defined by FRS as being totally and permanently disabled from performing useful and efficient services as an officer or an employee upon termination from FRS covered employment. (See Section 121.091(4), Florida Statutes). It is similar but not exactly the same as the standards used for Social Security Disability and/or Workers Compensation.)

Tell me what types of evidence I should obtain to prove my disability claim?2022-07-01T14:54:16+00:00

Your medical condition had to occur or at least became symptomatic during the period when you were employed in an employee/employer relationship. Your total and permanent disability must be certified by two Florida-licensed physicians. You were not employed with any other employer after such termination; and you were totally and permanently disabled at the time you terminated employment. Furthermore, there are forms that have to be obtained and submitted to the Division of Retirement. You can ask your Personal Office for the forms or you can ask the Disability Determinations Section at the Division of Retirement Disability@FRS.state.fl.us. You can reach the Division of Retirement by calling 844-377-2888 (toll free) or 850-907-6500, or fax 850-4l0-20l0. The address if 3189 S. Blair Stone Rd., Tallahassee, FL 32301-6812

Can I collect FRS and social security or workers compensation?2022-07-01T15:02:35+00:00

Workers’ compensation benefits may be offset against other disability benefits you receive so that your combined benefits do not exceed a statutory threshold. If you get workers’ compensation, FRS or other disability benefits, and/or Social Security Disability benefits, your employer may be entitled to reduce your workers’ compensation if your combined benefits would provide you an income that is higher than that allowed by law, based on your pre-disability income.

Can I obtained Disability if caused by alcohol or drugs?2022-07-01T15:03:11+00:00

No, it is not considered suffered in the line of duty.

When are Firefighters disabilities presumed to have occurred in the line of duty?2022-07-01T15:05:35+00:00
  1. Your disability is presumed to have occurred in the line of duty if resulting from, or arising from the treatment of one of the 21 cancers defined in section 112.1816, Florida Statutes. The employer must
    provide verification of the firefighter’s full-time status and certify the employer is a fire department or public safety department whose primary responsibilities are the prevention and extinguishing of fires; the protection of life and property; and the enforcement of municipal, county, state fire prevention codes and laws pertaining to the prevention and control of fires. Disability retirement benefits under this provision must be effective on or after July 1, 2019.
  2. If you are a firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, law enforcement officer, or correctional officer who is disabled because of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis, your disability is presumed to have occurred in the line of duty unless competent evidence proves otherwise. You must have passed a pre-employment physical examination that failed to reveal any evidence of the communicable disease and must submit an affidavit attesting that you have not been exposed to the disease outside the scope of your employment. You may be required to establish that you have received a standard medically recognized vaccination, immunization, or other preventive measure, if available. You may also be asked to supply a copy of the accident report indicating suspected or known exposure.
  3. If you are a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or correctional officer who is disabled because of tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension,  your disability is presumed to have occurred in the line of duty unless competent evidence proves otherwise.  To qualify for the presumption, you must have successfully passed a pre-employment physical exam that filed to reveal evidence of the condition.
What is the DROP Program about?2022-07-01T15:07:39+00:00

The Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP)

The DROP offered under the Pension Plan allows members who are eligible for normal service retirement to effectively retire and continue working for a limited time while their monthly retirement benefits, plus any applicable cost-of-living adjustment and interest, accumulate on a tax-deferred basis in the FRS Trust Fund. When a participant’s DROP period ends, the participant must terminate all employment with FRS participating employers to receive the DROP accumulation and begin receiving monthly retirement benefits in the amount determined at time DROP participation
began, plus any applicable cost-of-living adjustment.

Reference: Section 121.091(13)(c), Florida Statutes
Rule 60S-11.001, 11.002, and 11.004, Florida Administrative Code Disability Retirement and the DROP

DROP participants are not eligible for FRS disability benefits because they are considered retired under the FRS when DROP begins. Under the FRS, once you have retired, you may not change your type of retirement from a normal service retirement to a disability retirement. If you become disabled while in DROP, you will receive the funds accumulated in DROP up to the month you terminate employment and end your DROP participation and begin receiving your monthly service retirement benefit. Your employer might offer other disability benefits or provide disability insurance apart from your FRS retirement benefit. Check with your human resource officer to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits available to you.

Reference: Sections 121.091(4)(b) and (c) and (13)(c)7, Florida Statutes Rules 60S-4.002(4), 4.007, and 11.004(6), Florida Administrative Code.

Explain what an Investment Plan member is?2022-07-01T15:09:03+00:00

If an Investment Plan member or Hybrid1 member becomes totally and permanently disabled, monthly disability benefits may be available under section 121.591(2), Florida Statutes, instead of benefits that might otherwise be payable.

The Division of Retirement administers the disability program for the Investment Plan members who wish to receive monthly benefits through the Pension Plan. Any Investment Plan member who wishes to receive disability retirement benefits must, in addition to applying for benefits with the division:

  • Transfer all moneys accumulated under the member’s Investment Plan account to the FRS Trust Fund.
  • Receive creditable service towards the years of service required to vest for disability benefits for service credit under the Investment Plan.

Eligibility requirements for disability retirement are the same for Investment Plan members and Pension Plan members as
described elsewhere in this booklet.

Once an Investment Plan member’s application for disability
retirement has been approved, he or she will be paid monthly benefits as of the effective disability retirement date. The application for disability retirement may be cancelled as long as the cancellation request reaches the division before a disability retirement warrant has been deposited, cashed, or received by direct deposit. Upon timely cancellation of your disability retirement application, your active participation in the Investment Plan will be reinstated, and all transferred funds will be returned to your Investment Plan account.

Reference: Sections 121.091(4), 121.4501, 121.591(2), and 121.73, Florida Statutes Rules 19 and 60S-4.007, Florida Administrative Code

Where do I get the forms to apply for disability retirement benefits?2022-07-01T15:19:20+00:00

These forms can be obtained from the division’s website at http://frs.myflorida.com/

To apply for disability retirement under the Pension Plan or Investment Plan, you must submit the forms listed below. You may obtain these forms from your human resource office or by downloading them from FRS Online. You can locate these forms under Forms on the Members page of the division’s website at the link above. You may also write or call the Division of  Retirement to receive the forms.

  1. Members of the Pension Plan must complete an FRS Application for Disability Retirement, Form FR-13, and sign the application in the presence of a public notary. Your date of retirement  may depend, in
    part, on when the division receives this form. While you can send in the rest of the required forms and documents later, you should not delay in submitting your Form FR-13 while you gather other information.
  2. Members of the Investment Plan must complete an Investment Plan Application for Disability Retirement, Form PR-13, to apply for disability benefits.
  3. A Statement of Disability by Employer, Form FR-13a, must be completed by the person designated by your employer.
  4. Two copies of the Physician’s Report of Disability, Form FR-13b, must be completed by two different Florida-licensed physicians currently treating you who can attest that you are mentally or physically disabled from employment and that your disability is total and permanent. If you are employed in an FRS covered position and you are permanently assigned by your FRS employer to work outside the state of Florida but within the United States, then two licensed physicians of the state here you work may complete the form instead of two Florida-licensed physicians. Effective July 1, 2020, if you are receiving care at a federal Veterans Health Administration facility, two licensed physicians working at the facility may complete the form.
  5. Members of the Pension Plan must complete an Option Selection for FRS Members, Form FRS-11o, and sign the form in the presence of a notary public. Members of the Investment Plan must complete an Option Selection for Disability Retirement, Form PR-11o.
  6. Members of the Pension Plan must complete a Spousal acknowledgment Form, Form SA-1, verifying marital status and sign the form in the presence of a notary public. If you are married and select Option 1 or 2, your spouse must acknowledge your choice of option by signing the form in the presence of a notary public. Members of the Investment Plan must complete a Spousal Acknowledgment Form for Disability Retirement, Form SA-2. If you are married and select Option 3 or 4, you must submit a copy of your marriage certificate.
  7. If you are applying for in-line-of-duty disability benefits, you must also provide copies of each workers’ compensation Notice of Injury, as filed by your employer. If no such reports were filed, you should submit a written statement containing the following:
    • An explanation of why a Notice of Injury was not completed and why you did not apply for workers’ compensation benefits;
    • The dates, times, and circumstances surrounding each on-the-job accident or illness;
    • A statement from you explaining why you consider the accident or illness to have been suffered in the line of duty; and
    • A statement from your supervisor explaining why the accident or illness is considered to be job-related (suffered in the line of duty).
  8. The Division of Retirement will review your application and will let you know if additional information is needed from you, your employer, or your physicians. Examples of the types of additional information that could be required to determine your eligibility for disability benefits include the following:
    • Personal interviews with you, your employer, or your physicians;
    • An examination by a medical specialist;
    • A personal interview by a rehabilitation nurse; or
    • Workers’ compensation information from your employer or the third-party carrier administering workers’ compensation coverage for your employer.
  9. Once they receive the required information, the division will notify you in writing if your disability claim has been approved or denied. Reference: Sections 121.091(4)(c) and 121.591(2)(e), Florida Statutes Rule 60S-4.007, Florida Administrative Code
  10. Proof of Age: When you apply for disability retirement, you must provide proof of your age. If you choose benefit payment Option 3 or 4 you must also furnish proof of age for your joint annuitant. The division must receive any required proof of age before you can begin receiving benefits. A legible copy of one of the following documents will be accepted as proof of age:
    • Birth certificate issued by the state or country of birth;
    • Delayed birth certificate;
    • Census report more than 30 years old;
    • Life insurance policy more than 30 years old;
    • A state-issued driver’s license issued after Jan. 1, 2010, that indicates compliance with the federal REAL ID Act;
    • Certificate of Naturalization; or
    • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport.
  11. If you cannot furnish any of these documents, a legible copy of a document from two of the following categories will be required:
    • Birth certificate of child that displays your age or your joint annuitant’s age, as appropriate;
    • Baptismal certificate more than 30 years old;
    • Hospital record of birth; and/or
    • School record at the time which you or your joint annuitant entered grammar school.
    • Reference: Section 121.091(6), Florida Statutes
      Rule 60S-4.0035, Florida Administrative Code
What other provisions in the law apply if I die?2022-07-01T15:23:25+00:00
  • Automatic designation of spouse – If you die before your effective retirement date as a member of the Pension Plan, your spouse at the time of your death will automatically be your beneficiary unless you named a different beneficiary after your most recent marriage. If you die after you retire, your most recently designated beneficiary receives any benefits payable, regardless of any life changes that may have occurred since you retired (such as divorce, remarriage, or death of a beneficiary).
  • Death in the line of duty – If you die in the line of duty as a Pension Plan or Investment Plan member in the Special Risk Class on or after July 1, 2002, your surviving spouse eligible for a lifetime monthly benefit equal to 100 percent of your contracted salary, regardless of your length of service or whether you named someone else as your beneficiary. If you are not married and have a dependent child or children at the time of your death or if you are married and your spouse dies before your youngest child reaches age 18, the benefit may continue until the child reaches age 25 if the child is unmarried and enrolled in school full time.
    • If you die in the line of duty as a Pension Plan or Investment Plan member in a class other than the Special Risk Class on or after July 1, 2002, your surviving spouse is eligible for a lifetime monthly benefit equal to half of your contracted salary,
      regardless of your length of service or whether you named someone else as your beneficiary. If you are not married and have a dependent child or children at the time of your death or if you are married and your spouse dies before your youngest child reaches age 18, the benefit will be paid on behalf of your
      unmarried children until the youngest child reaches age 18.
    • This provision also applies if you are disabled in the line of duty as a member of the Pension Plan and are approved for disability retirement but die before your effective retirement date as a result of your illness or injury. If you are approved for disability retirement as a member of the Investment Plan but die before your disability retirement effective date, survivor benefits will be paid to your beneficiary as provided in section 121.591(3), Florida Statutes.
  • Changing your joint annuitant – When you retire under disability retirement and select an Option 3 or 4 benefit, you may change your joint annuitant up to two times after retirement. To make this change, you must file a notarized Change of Joint Annuitant Form, Form JA-1, with the division and notify, in writing, your surviving former joint annuitant of the change.  Changing your joint annuitant causes your benefit to be recalculated.
  • Joint annuitant nullification – If you retire under disability retirement, select Option 3 or 4, and name your spouse as your beneficiary (your joint annuitant) but you subsequently divorce, you may nullify your designation of your former spouse as your joint annuitant (unless a Qualified Domestic Relations Order prevents you from taking such action). To do this, you must submit to the division a notarized Joint Annuitant Nullification Form, Form JA-NUL, and a copy of your divorce papers. After nullification, your former spouse is considered by law to have died before you and, if you’ve chosen Option 4, your benefit payments will be reduced by one-third. You may not reverse a joint annuitant nullification, but you may a new joint annuitant designation, which causes your benefit to be recalculated. Nullification forms are available from the division.

Reference: Sections 121.021(28) and (46), 121.091(6)-(8) and (14), and 121.591(2) and (4), Florida Statutes
Rules 60S-4.008, 4.010, and 4.011, Florida Administrative Code.

When you nullify or otherwise change a joint annuitant designation after you have retired, your benefit will be recalculated. This nearly always results in reduced benefits. Disability Retirees of the Investment Plan-In some cases, an amount equal to the remaining vested Investment Plan account balance may be payable.

Rule 60S-4.007, Florida Administrative Code.

How do I provide Proof of Age?2022-07-01T15:25:08+00:00

When you apply for disability retirement, you must provide proof of your age. If you choose benefit payment Option 3 or 4 you must also furnish proof of age for your joint annuitant. The division must receive any required proof of age before you can begin receiving benefits. A legible copy of one of the following documents will be accepted as proof of age:

  • Birth certificate issued by the state or country of birth;
  • Delayed birth certificate;
  • Census report more than 30 years old;
  • Life insurance policy more than 30 years old;
  • A state-issued driver’s license issued after Jan. 1, 2010, that indicates compliance with the federal REAL ID Act;
  • Certificate of Naturalization; or
  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport.

If you cannot furnish any of these documents, a legible copy of a document from two of the following categories will be required:

  • Birth certificate of child that displays your age or your joint annuitant’s age, as appropriate;
  • Baptismal certificate more than 30 years old;
  • Hospital record of birth; and/or
  • School record at the time which you or your joint annuitant entered grammar school.

Reference: Section 121.091(6), Florida Statutes
Rule 60S-4.0035, Florida Administrative Code

What is the Effective Retirement Date?2022-07-01T15:27:27+00:00

If you are approved for disability retirement benefits, your effective retirement date cannot be established until the division receives official documentation from your employer that you have terminated employment. Benefit payments will be retroactive to your effective retirement date. If your disability retirement application is submitted within 30 days of your termination date, your effective retirement date will be the first day of the month following your termination date. If you do not submit your application within 30 days of termination, your effective retirement date will be the first day of the month after the division receives your application. For example, if you terminate on June 30 and your application is received on July 5, your effective retirement date would be July 1. However, if the division doesn’t receive your application until Aug. 2, your effective retirement date would be Sept. 1.

An effective retirement date is always the first day of the month, and benefits are payable on the last working day of the month.

If salary is reported or creditable service is granted on your behalf after you have applied for disability benefits, your effective retirement date can be no earlier than the first day of the month following the last month that you earned salary or received service credit. If you were receiving workers’ compensation payments, your effective disability retirement date may also be affected.

Reference: Sections 121.091(4)(a) and 121.591(2)(c), Florida Statutes Rules 60S-4.0035(4) and 4.007, Florida Administrative Code 11 Form FR-13 for Pension Plan members or Form PR-13 for Investment Plan members.

What Can I Do When My Application for Disability is Denied?2022-07-01T15:32:07+00:00

If you fail to demonstrate total and permanent disability or in-line-of-duty disability, you will be notified by certified mail that the division intends to deny your application. The notice will include factual, legal, and policy grounds for the decision. You will then have 21 days to challenge the intended denial by submitting your written objections and evidence to the division, after which the division will have 21 days to respond.

You will be notified by certified mail, with a copy to your employer, if the division rejects your challenge. The final denial letter will explain the division’s final decision and will advise you regarding your appeal rights. The Division of Retirement will enclose an appeal form with your final disability denial letter.

What are my Appeal Rights?2022-07-01T15:34:55+00:00

If the division denies your disability claim, you may request a hearing before the State Retirement Commission. To receive a hearing before the commission, you must submit the appeal form to the State Retirement Commission within 21 days of receipt of the division’s final denial. If you appeal to the State Retirement Commission, you may elect to receive the service retirement benefits for which you are eligible while you wait for the commission’s decision on your appeal. If the application for disability benefits is approved on appeal, the service retirement will be converted to a disability retirement, but you will not be able to change your benefit payment option. If you choose to take an early service retirement and your appeal is denied, you cannot subsequently cancel or change this election. If the State Retirement Commission approves your application for disability retirement, the commission may cover your reasonable attorney’s fees and taxable costs up to an amount equal to half of your first year’s disability benefit payments. In order for the Commission to approve your petition,  testimony from a physician, either by deposition or at a final hearing, that you are permanently and totally disabled is required.  For in-the-line-of-duty cases the physician must also testify that the disability arose out of and in the actual performance of duties required by the covered employment.  A decision of the State Retirement Commission is considered a final agency action. However, you may petition the District Court of Appeal for review of the commission’s decision.

Should I ask for a Reapplication and Review?2022-07-01T15:35:45+00:00

If your initial application for disability retirement is denied, you may reapply for disability benefits. However, your disability claim will be reconsidered only if you present new medical evidence that was not available at the time of your initial application of a medical condition that existed before you terminated employment covered under the FRS. Your reapplication for disability retirement will be reviewed to determine if new information has been submitted.

Reference: Sections 121.091(4)(g), 121.23, and 121.591(2)(h), Florida Statutes Rules 60S-4.002(4) and 4.007(1), (3), and (10), Florida Administrative Code

What are the Various Benefits Payment Options?2022-07-01T16:59:31+00:00

If you are approved for disability retirement benefits, you must choose one of four benefit payment options. You will not begin receiving disability benefits until you have selected a benefit option. Although you may wait until you have an estimate of benefits before selecting an option, the division suggests that you complete your option selection form as soon as possible. If you were to die before filing your option selection form and you had no qualified joint annuitant, under Florida law, your selection would default to Option 1, providing no continuing benefit to your beneficiary. You may change your option selection at any time during the processing of your application, but your retirement option may not be changed once your benefit payment is cashed or deposited.

If you are married and you select Option 1 or 2, your spouse must acknowledge your option selection in writing. If you select Option 2, 3, or 4, your benefit will be actuarially reduced12 from the Option 1 amount, but the total benefit provided under each of these options is actuarially equal to what you alone would be expected to receive under Option 1. Continuing lifetime monthly benefits under Options 3 and 4 may be paid only to a person who qualifies as a joint annuitant.

The reduction is based on separate actuarial factors for disability retirement.

The actuarial factors used to calculate disability benefits can result in a lower Option 2, 3 or 4 retirement benefit as compared to the same optional benefit computed using the actuarial factors that apply to service retirement. The difference primarily results from different mortality rates and the value of not having disability benefits reduced for early retirement and may be offset by the existence of a minimum benefit. If your service retirement benefit is higher than your disability retirement benefit, you will be provided comparative benefit estimates based on both service and disability retirement and will have the option of selecting the benefit that is best for you.

Options 1 and 2

Option 1: Provides a monthly benefit payment to you for your lifetime and continued disability. This option does not provide a continuing benefit to a beneficiary. Upon your death, the monthly benefit will stop, and your beneficiary will be eligible to receive only a refund of contributions you paid, if any, which exceed the amount you received in benefits.

Option 2: Provides a reduced monthly benefit payment to you for your lifetime and continued disability. However, if you die within 10 years (120 months) of retiring, your beneficiary will receive a monthly benefit payment in the same amount you were receiving for the balance of the 120-month period. If you die after 10 years of disability retirement, no further benefits will be payable.

Options 3 and 4

Under Options 3 and 4, you may provide a continuing benefit for your spouse or other dependent beneficiary who is your joint annuitant. To qualify as your joint annuitant, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Be your spouse;
  • Be your parent or grandparent (as long as you provide at least half of the individual’s financial support);
  • Be your natural or legally adopted child who is either under age 25 or who is physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support
What is the Minimum Disability Benefit?2022-07-01T17:01:36+00:00

Because total and permanent disability is unpredictable and may occur at an early age, the FRS provides certain minimum disability benefits. However, with sufficient creditable service, you may be eligible for a higher benefit.

Regular Disability (25-Percent Minimum Benefit)

If you are approved for regular disability retirement, regardless of your class of membership, your Option 1 benefit will be at least 25 percent of your average final compensation. If your actual earned benefit based on your years of creditable service would be higher than the 25-percent minimum regular disability benefit, the higher amount will be paid.

In-Line-of-Duty Disability (42-Percent or 65-Percent Minimum
Benefit)

If you are a member of the Regular Class, Senior Management Service Class, or Elected Officers’ Class when you become disabled and you are approved for in-line-of-duty disability retirement, your Option 1 benefit will be at least 42 percent of your average final compensation. If your actual earned benefit based on your years of creditable service would be higher than 42 percent, the higher amount will be paid If you are a member of the Special Risk Class or Special Risk Administrative Support Class when you become disabled and you are approved for in-line-of-duty disability retirement, your Option 1 benefit will be at least 65 percent of your average final compensation.

Reference: Section 121.091(4)(f), Florida Statutes Rules 60S-4.004 and 6.001(6), Florida Administrative Code.

What if I feel my questions are not answered in this Q&A?

Please call your Avard Law case worker or attorney at (239) 945-0808 and tell them the question for which you do not understand the answer. Or ask a question not covered by the Q & A questions. Please note that your calls should be answered within 48 hours. Thank you for your assistance. We are working very hard to help you win your case.

FREE CONSULTATION

Fill out my online form.
(888) 685-7930

PRACTICE AREAS

OUR ATTORNEYS

Board Certified in Social Security Disability by the NBTA. Licensed in both Florida and Massachusetts. Accredited Veterans’ disability attorney.

CAROL AVARD, ESQ., VIEW PROFILE

Board Certified in Social Security Disability by the NBTA. Licensed in both Florida and Michigan. NOSSCR Board of Directors Member.

DOUGLAS MOHNEY, ESQ., VIEW PROFILE

Schedule a Free Consultation

Complete the form and we will call you back to discuss your case. We can schedule your free consultation by phone or at one of our Florida offices.

Fill out my online form.