Disability Retirement


Disability Retirement

If you become “permanently incapacitated”—mentally or physically—from performing your job, you may be eligible for a disability retirement. Permanent incapacity means the substantial inability to perform the usual duties of your job. Following an in-depth investigation, if you are found to be permanently incapacitated, you may be eligible to receive a service-connected or nonservice-connected disability retirement. If the Board of Retirement approves your application, you will receive a lifetime retirement benefit.


Disability Hearing Procedures

In April 1999, the Board of Retirement revised its Disability Hearing Procedures, which governs VCERA’s disability process and includes definitions, rules, roles, policies and procedures. In July 2020, the Board approved VCERA’s Disability Retirement Process Document, which sets forth a new disability model applicable to all new applications as of July 27, 2020.


Nonservice-Connected Disability Retirement

A nonservice-connected disability (NSCD) is an incapacitating injury or illness that was not caused by your employment. To be eligible for an NSCD, you must have five or more years of eligible retirement service credit, regardless of age.

If granted by the Board, an NSCD retirement benefit will not typically exceed one-third of your final average compensation. (If you are eligible to retire and your regular service retirement would pay more than an NSCD retirement, applying for a regular service retirement would be more financially advantageous than applying for an NSCD retirement.)


Service-Connected Disability Retirement

A service-connected disability (SCD) is an incapacitating injury or illness that was substantially caused by your employment. There is no minimum age or service credit requirement to be eligible for an SCD.

If granted by the Board, an SCD retirement benefit will be equal to 50% of your final average compensation or the amount of a regular service retirement, whichever is higher, and may have certain tax advantages. 


Filing for Disability Retirement

An application for disability retirement may be filed by you, the department in which you were last employed or any other person on your behalf. The application must be filed while you are employed, within four months of discontinuing service, or any time after your separation date if you have been continuously incapacitated from performing your job duties.

To obtain a disability application packet, VCERA strongly recommends that you first meet with a Benefits Specialist to be counseled on your options, disability legal standards and VCERA’s disability procedures. If you decline counseling, you will be required to sign a waiver. Please contact VCERA to schedule an appointment. (You can also download the Disability Applicant Guide below.)


Disability Reassignment

When you apply for disability retirement, you can also indicate your interest in a disability reassignment, which would enable you to continue employment in a position compatible with your permanent work restrictions. Doing so would allow you to continue receiving employment benefits and earning retirement service credit until you are ready to retire for service.

If you believe that you may be able to perform duties of another position within your range of capabilities, and if you would like to work with the County or other VCERA employer to find a suitable position, you can elect the “Reassignment” option on your disability application. If your disability is granted and you accept a lower-paying position, VCERA will pay you a disability reassignment allowance that minimizes (or eliminates) the difference between your previous salary and your new salary. As an active member, retirement contributions and taxes would apply to your new earnings.

Safety members who are rehired in a non-Safety position will retain their Safety status. For additional information about disability reassignment, please contact VCERA.

Please consult VCERA prior to accepting another position with your employer before the Board of Retirement makes a determination on your disability application, as doing so may adversely impact your application.