If you become disabled and unable to perform the duties of your job function, you can apply for a disability retirement.

Disability Retirement Application

If your disability occurred through the course of your employment, you may be eligible for a Service Connected Disability.  A Service Connected Disability can occur at any time during membership, meaning that there is no requirement for a member to be vested or have a minimum number of years of service.

If your disability occurred outside of your employment, you can apply for a Non-Service Connected Disability.  In order to be eligible for a Non-Service Connected Disability, you are required to be vested, which occurs with 5 years of service credit.

Once the accident, injury, or illness occurs, you should obtain a written diagnosis of your disability from your physician on Doctor’s stationery.  Then, you can fill out the above Disability Retirement Application and contact us to inform us of the injury.  Your application must be accompanied by a Doctor’s diagnosis.

Our Retirement Specialists will review your application, physician’s medical evidence and any supporting documentation for completeness prior to accepting the application.  They will contact you to schedule an appointment to discuss your options and the disability retirement process.

During the disability retirement counseling session, the Retirement Specialist will discuss Service vs Non-Service Connected Disability as well as the eligibility requirements for a Service Retirement (non-disability retirement). Some members who are eligible will choose to Service Retire while waiting for the determination of their Disability Retirement application.  Please note, that if you choose to Service Retire, you will not be able to return to work if the Board of Retirement denies your application.

The next step in the process is the collection of medical records by our office.  These records are then reviewed and a medical examination will be scheduled with our Independent Medical Examiner.  The Retirement Specialist will prepare a recommendation to be presented to the Board of Retirement.  You will be informed of the date of the Board of Retirement meeting and given the opportunity to speak to the Board during open or closed session.

The Board of Retirement will deliberate and vote to grant or deny your application.  You or your attorney will be notified of that decision.  At that time, you can choose to request a hearing within 10 days of the decision by the Board.

Hearing Process

1. Prepare for Hearing: The applicant/attorney (if represented) is notified that the case is denied pending a request for hearing received by FCERA within 10 days of the decision by the Board of Retirement. FCERA strongly recommends that you retain legal counsel to prepare your case.

2. Selection of Hearing Officer: FCERA and the applicant (or applicant’s attorney) select a Hearing Officer from a list of 7 attorneys provided by the California State Mediation and Conciliation Services.

3. Notice of Hearing: Retirement staff sets up the date and time of the hearing and the matter is placed on the calendar. Retirement staff notifies doctors, attorneys, County Counsel, court reporter, applicant and Hearing Officer of time and location of the hearing.

4. Hearing Evidence: The hearing evidence is prepared for presentation.

5. Hearing Held: Member presents his/her case to the Hearing Officer. County Counsel represents FCERA during the hearing. The Hearing Officer prepares recommendation to grant or deny the application within 30 days of hearing.

6. The Hearing officer’s recommendation: Provided to the Board. The Board has the option to adopt the recommendation, send the recommendation back to the Hearing Officer for additional information, or to hear rehear the claim themselves.

7. Notice of Decision: Applicant/attorney is sent a notice of decision.

8. Objections/Responses: Member has 10 days from the date notified to file objections with the Board of Retirement. Member may also file an appeal in Superior Court within 90 days of the date notified of the decision.