Why Do I Need an OPERS Attorney?
You need a Cleveland OPERS attorney for at least three reasons:
- Applying to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System for disability benefits is confusing and time-consuming.
- Qualifying for OPERS disability benefits is almost always complicated by questions over eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) eligibility.
- Receiving OPERS disability benefits often requires appealing an initial denial of payments, and sometimes going to court.
Confusing Rules Frustrate Applicants
An OPERS disability attorney in Cleveland, Ohio has made it his or her job to know the system backwards and forward. Since the attorney has professional and ethical duties to work in the best interest of each client, the lawyer will not skip any steps in the application process, give up when things seem overwhelming, or get intimidated by unhelpful or seemingly obstructionist OPERS officials.
An attorney will also help his or her client gather, organize, and submit all the required medical evidence to document the existence and effects of a disability. OPERS asks for health records, diagnoses, therapy plans, prescription records, and assessments by health care providers of its choice. Inadvertently leaving out a key form or report can result in a denial of disability benefits.
Social Security Concerns
The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System takes the place of Social Security and Medicare for most state and local government employees. This is also true for state pension and disability plans like the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and the School Employees Retirement System (SERS).
A serious complication with this arrangement arises when an OPERS, STRS, or SERS participant has held one or more jobs that qualified them for Social Security. SSDI is treated as “primary” for disability claims, meaning that a person eligible for both Social Security and state pension plan disability must apply first—and often, only—to SSDI.
Meeting with a Cleveland, Ohio OPERS disability attorney before beginning the application process for benefits will answer all questions regarding eligibility and prevent a false start that will result in an automatic, possibly permanent, denial of needed assistance.
Refusing to Take No for an Answer
Appealing a denial of OPERS disability benefits requires responding to specific requests for new and additional information. The applicant will also have to go through hearings that are not part of the first-time application.
Enlisting advice and representation from a Cleveland OPERS attorney will help a disabled state employee respond appropriately to the denial notice, prepare for an appeals hearing, and know how to press forward if more than one appeal is required. A final option when all official appeals are denied is to take the OPERS program to court by filing an administrative lawsuit. The rules for such court cases are different from other lawsuits, so going in with a lawyer who deeply understands that procedure and the OPERS system is essential to succeeding.
The disability attorneys in the Columbus offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman welcome opportunities to help clients secure OPERS disability benefits. We offer free consultations, and we can come to you if your health makes visiting us difficult. Call us at (800) 678-3318 or set up an appointment online by completing this contact form.