The Ohio retirement and disability attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman field this question often. We hear it from spouses who have lost life partners, adult children who find themselves caring for elderly parents, and even from OPERS beneficiaries who must navigate the complex program to fully access their benefits for the first time.

Here are the basics. If you need more information, and especially if you need to appeal a denial of OPERS benefits, do not hesitate to contact our law firm’s Cleveland offices.


What does the acronym OPERS stand for?

OPERS is shorthand for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.


Who is covered by OPERS?

All full-time and part-time employees of Ohio state agencies, local governments, state law enforcement organizations, public safety departments, most student university employees, and elected officials and political appointees who opt into the system participate in OPERS. School teachers have their own pension and disability plan called STRS, as do non-teaching employees of public K-12 schools (SERS).


What benefits does OPERS pay?

OPERS operates like a combination of a traditional pension plan, a 401(k)/IRA investment plan, and a disability insurance plan.

How state retirement program participation affects Social Security, Medicare, and worker’s compensation eligibility is complicated. Speaking with a Cleveland, OH, OPERS lawyer is probably a good idea if you have worked for private employers in addition to the state.


How do I know what OPERS benefits should be paid?

The amount and timing of benefits vary by individual circumstances. For instance, pension benefits are calculated according to a formula that factors in years of service, hiring date, retirement age, and highest average salary. Disability payments depend on the beneficiary’s degree of impairment and salary at the time when working was no longer possible. Proving the cause, nature, and extent of the disability will also be necessary.

Figuring all this out can be a challenge, especially for surviving spouses and for family members who must take over their loved one’s financial affairs. Consulting with a Cleveland, OH, OPERS lawyer can help such people determine whether the retirement system is operating correctly on their behalf.


Why might OPERs benefits be withheld or denied?

Public Employees Retirement System benefits stop or never get approved for many reasons. A few examples include the following:

  • The program has incomplete records, ranging from a beneficiary’s new address to dates of employment and contributions to voluntary retirement accounts.
  • OPERS believes a retiree has died.
  • The identity and relationship of a surviving spouse is being disputed.
  • OPERs does not accept the validity of the medical evidence submitted to support a disability claim.


Can Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman help me if my OPERS benefits are not coming?

Many of our lawyers have handled Public Employees Retirement System cases for years. Call us at (800) 678-3318 to request a free consultation. We will need to learn more about your specific situation, but we know we can at least point you toward the information and assistance you require.