Do I need a lawyer to apply for my disability retirement?

Just asking this question assumes that applying for disability retirement is only a matter of filling out the proper forms.

“I’ll just file the forms and see what happens. After all, the nice person at the retirement system assured me that I won’t need to hire a lawyer because they will help me.”

Disabled workers often assume that their successful workers’ compensation claim means that their disability retirement matter will simply be granted. But just because the workers’ compensation system awarded benefits is NO guarantee that the retirement system will do the same.

Your retirement system is governed by different laws and administered by different persons. Retirement systems have their own rules, own consulting doctors, and own lawyers.

From the moment you contact the retirement system to apply for a disability retirement, the system is engaged in identifying the weaknesses in your claim and designing strategies to support its denial.

Even before your application is filed, we consider many issues:

* The timing of your application.

* Who should apply, you or your employer.

* Whether you are entitled to benefits that predate your application.

* Your employment status, i.e., whether you have been terminated, resigned, or offered accommodations.

* Whether your claimed permanent incapacity requires further medical development

* The value of a non-industrial and industrial disability retirement.

* Whether additional evidence is needed to establish a right to an industrial disability retirement.

Finally, ask yourself: “What’s at stake?” Your disability retirement benefit, if granted, will give you a monthly benefit that may last a lifetime. This benefit may be your most valuable asset. It is not likely that the retirement system’s staff will advise you on all these issues.