Public employees in Ohio who suffer from a physical or mental disability that prevents them from working may qualify for disability benefits. These benefits are offered under the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System or OPERS. Traditional and Combined Plan members may be eligible.
Who is Eligible for Benefits?
A person needs to know if they are eligible for benefits under one of these plans. To qualify, the individual must have a minimum of five years of contributing service credit. The exception to this is law enforcement officers who become disabled as a result of an injury or illness sustained on the job.
The employee must show they can no longer work in their regular job because they suffered a permanent disability condition. This claim must be filed within two years of their contributing service terminating. However, a member may file a claim after this period if they were disabled and unable to do so during the two-year period.
A person who is receiving an age and service retirement benefit cannot apply for disability benefits.
A person may file a disability claim only to have it denied. They believe they qualify for benefits, but the program does not agree. In this situation, the person cannot give up seeking compensation. A lawyer can be of help.
When to Hire an OPERS Disability Lawyer
When a person is filing their initial disability application, an OPERS disability lawyer can help. This lawyer will help if an application has been filed and the claim was denied. The attorney will help the person navigate the appeals process.
Choosing a Disability Advocate
Law firms and non-legal organizations help individuals with disability claims. However, an attorney tackles both the disability application and any appeals that are needed. The non-legal organizations may only help with the application process.
When a person needs assistance, the right person must be selected. What should a disabled individual look for in their advocate?
Experience is crucial, as social security disability cases are unique. Find an attorney who has handled similar cases, as disabilities come in many forms. If a claim has already been filed and denied, find an attorney with experience in handling appeals at all levels.
A Case Strategy
Meet with each potential attorney and discuss the claim. Learn how the case will be handled if the attorney is hired. The attorney should be more than willing to provide this information.
If an attorney fails to discuss the plan for the case but turns the conversation to their approval rates, find another lawyer to work with. Attorneys pick which clients they want to work with, and some attorneys only take cases they know they can win. Having a plan is more important than how many cases they have won or lost.
Disabled individuals who cannot work need help right away. Find an attorney who remains in regular contact with clients. The last thing the disabled individual needs to worry about is what is happening with their claim.
Ask each attorney to provide several references. In addition, read independent reviews online. This allows the client to get a better picture of the attorney and how they work.
When contacting the attorney, clients need to know who they will speak to as their case progresses. Who will be working on the case? This type of claim comes with a significant amount of paperwork. Ask to meet all staff members who may be involved in the case to ensure the firm is a good fit.
Always meet with several attorneys before choosing one to work with. This ensures the client and attorney develop a good relationship. As this type of case may go on for an extended period, the relationship takes on increased importance. For the best results, keep this in mind when choosing an attorney.