Disability retirement is available for people who become disabled prior to retiring for service. Members must have completed five or more years of full time Kentucky service and must apply within one year of their last contributing service. Members with 27 or more years of service credit are eligible only for service retirement. Disability retirement is available for members with less than five years of service only if they are physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of an injury related directly to their covered employment. Substitute and part-time members who are vested may be eligible to apply for disability retirement if they meet the qualifications set by the TRS Board of Trustees.
A disability retiree may not be employed in any position that requires the same duties or qualifications as a position under TRS in any capacity in Kentucky or elsewhere. Doing so shall result in loss of the disability allowance from the first date of this service. No person who is receiving disability benefits may be employed in a position that qualifies them for membership in a retirement system financed wholly or in part with public funds. You are required to notify TRS if you engage in any gainful occupation. Your annuity will be reduced if your annual income from other employment combined with your TRS retirement benefit totals more than $41,982. If you are employed, a complete copy of your Federal Income Tax Return will be requested and must include all W-2s that were included with that return. (In other words, if you file jointly, you must include a copy of the other person’s W-2s to prove that all income is not solely yours.) You will be required to repay TRS if you receive in excess of the monetary limitation.
TRS Medical Insurance Effective Date
Please note that your TRS medical insurance will be effective the first day of the month during which your disability is finalized for payroll. This may not be the same date as the effective date of your retirement. In many cases the effective date of the disability retirement is retroactive due to the time needed for approval by the medical review committee. Health insurance coverage is not retroactive.
If you are under 65 and not on Medicare A and B, TRS offers health insurance through the state group health insurance program. TRS disability retirees will receive a supplement toward the cost of their insurance based on years of service. If the cost of coverage is more than your supplement, this amount will be deducted from your annuity or billed if necessary. Retirees are not eligible to participate in flexible spending.
For retirees and spouses age 65 and above and any others on Medicare B, TRS offers a Medicare Eligible Health Plan (MEHP).
Coverage for your spouse is also available. The full cost of this coverage is the retiree’s responsibility and will be deducted from their annuity payment. If the member dies before going on disability retirement, the spouse may not be eligible for health insurance.
Retirees and spouses under 65 who are on the health insurance through the Department for Employee Insurance will be able to include dependent children by choosing a family or parent plus coverage. The full cost for the dependent children will be the responsibility of the member. Retirees and spouses on Medicare will not have insurance available for their dependent children through TRS.
Annuity payments were not subject to Kentucky income taxes through Dec. 31, 1997. After that time you should consult the schedule of exemptions. Your disability annuity, however, will be subject to federal income taxes.
All retired members are covered by a $5,000 Life Insurance Benefit. In addition, your dependents may be eligible to apply for survivor benefits. Upon recalculation at the expiration of the entitlement period, you must select an optional plan of payment if you wish to protect survivors after your death.
You may elect to terminate disability retirement and apply for service retirement for personal reasons, but you will not be eligible to receive service credit for the period you were on disability entitlement.
Members retired on disability shall earn one year of disability entitlement service credit for each four years of service in a covered position. Any member meeting the requirements for disability retirement shall be credited with no less than five years of eligibility, except that under no circumstances shall this service be used to provide the member with more than 27 years of service. (Example: If a member has 24 years of service credit when they go on disability retirement, they will earn 3 years of disability entitlement service credit giving them a total of 27 years of service at the time of recalculation of their disability benefit.) If you are disabled when your entitlement period expires, your disability entitlement service credit will be added to the years of service that you had when you went on disability retirement. Your benefits will then be recalculated using the service retirement formula using the average of your highest five earned salaries. Please note that this is NOT a conversion to service retirement. After recalculation of the disability benefit, you will still be subject to medical reexaminations and reemployment restrictions.
The annual benefit for disability retirement during the entitlement period is 60 percent of your average high five salaries. (This amount is prorated if you have reciprocity.)
TRS members who have service credit in one of the other Kentucky retirement systems should contact the relevant agencies to file for disability retirement benefits in those systems in order to coordinate full reciprocity.
You will be required to undergo periodic examinations to determine if your disability allowance should be continued. If, upon examination, this disability no longer exists, the Medical Review Committee will recommend that the allowance be discontinued.
Retirement for Disability Shall Not Be Cause for Termination
If you are a teacher and recover from disability and present a supporting statement from a licensed physician and written notification to the school system within 24 calendar months (but not later than April 15 prior to the beginning of the next school term), the system will reinstate you to active continuing status at the beginning of the next school term. If you do not present written notice of recovery to the school system within the 24 months, or if you resign prior to the end of the 24-month period, the continuing contract shall terminate.
It is your responsibility to keep TRS advised as to changes of address, status of dependents, employment situation and condition of your health.
If you have any questions concerning your status as a disability retiree, contact the Teachers’ Retirement System at 502-848-8500.