Disability Hearing Procedures
These procedures are intended to provide an equitable, fair and impartial method for acting upon applications for rights, benefits and privileges under the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937, as amended, to the end that applications for disability retirement may be expeditiously processed with a minimum lapse of time, and that when a hearing is required, all parties will have notice of the hearing and an opportunity to appear before the Board or duly appointed hearing officer to present their cases.
As used in these hearing procedures, unless the context or subject matter otherwise requires:
- “Applicant” means (1) a member of the Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Association claiming benefits, rights, or privileges under the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937, as amended, or (2) any person claiming such benefits, rights or privileges on behalf of or through a member.
- “Party” means any person and his/her representative, if one, disclosed by the records of the retirement system or by the application to have an interest in the subject matter of an application for benefits. The term “Party” shall also include the County of Ventura and districts which are included within the Retirement Association.
- “Association” means the Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Association.
- “Board” means the Board of Retirement of the Association.
- “Administrator” means the Board appointed Administrator of the Association.
- “Hearing Officer” or “Referee” means the designee of the Board to conduct a hearing
- “Medical Advisor” means the County Health Officer or his/her designee.
- “Legal Advisor” means the office of the County Counsel or other counsel as appointed by the Board.
- “Employer” means the County of Ventura or any district which is a member of the Association.
- “Day” means calendar day.
Filing an Application for Disability Retirement
- An application for disability retirement benefits shall be filed with the Association on a form provided by the Board. The application must be filed while the member is in service, within four months after discontinuance of service, or at any time after discontinuance of service if the member can demonstrate to the Board that he/she has been continuously incapacitated for the performance of his/her duties since the date of discontinuance of service. In order to be considered a valid application, the applicant shall be required to submit at the time of filing the following:
- Completed Application for Disability Retirement.
- Signed Authorization to Obtain and Release Records and Information.
- Upon the filing of a valid application, the applicant will have one hundred and twenty (120) days in which to file additional medical or other documentation in support of the application. For good cause shown, the Administrator may grant the applicant a reasonable extension(s) of time within which to file documentation. Notice of the granting of an extension of time shall be provided to all parties. The applicant may waive any or all of his/her time for filing documentation by providing written notification to the Association.
- The applicant will be permitted to amend the application for disability retirement at any time up to the date the evidentiary hearing begins by giving notice of the exact manner in which the application is being amended to the Administrator and all other parties. Any such amendment that is so noticed within sixty (60) days of the evidentiary hearing date shall entitle any other party to a continuance as a matter of right. Once the evidentiary hearing begins, the application can only be amended with the consent of the Board upon such terms as the Board shall set.
- Upon the filing of the application, the Administrator shall send a copy of the application and supporting documentation submitted by the applicant to the employer of the applicant, either the County of Ventura, Risk Management, or the contracting district. The Administrator shall provide timely notification to all parties of all actions taken by the Association relating to the processing of the application.
- The employer shall have sixty (60) days from the date of notification by the Administrator of the expiration of the applicant’s time for the filing of documentation to respond as to whether or not the employer will contest the application. For good cause shown, the Administrator may grant a reasonable extension(s) of time within which to state a position in regard to the application. Notice of the granting of an extension of time shall be provided to all parties.
- If a determination is made by the employer to not contest the application, the following shall apply:
- The application for disability retirement, employer’s statement of position and analysis of medical documentation, and all supporting documentation will be forwarded directly to the Board for its consideration. Notice of the date on which the Board will hear the application shall be provided to all parties by the Association.
- If the Board does not adopt the position taken by the employer, the Board may direct that the member submit to one or more medical, psychological or psychiatric examinations, as provided for in section 18 herein. The reports of any such examinations, together with any additional relevant evidence provided by the parties, shall be presented to the Board for a determination on the application at a duly noticed meeting as soon as practical. Alternatively, the matter may be continued to the next disability meeting for an evidentiary hearing to be conducted before the Board on the merits of the application.