Members who are no longer able to work due to a medical or physical condition may be eligible for a disability benefit provided by the OPSEU Pension Plan. To qualify for a disability benefit the individual must:
- still be employed and a member of the Plan (not terminated or retired)
- have at least 10 years of pension service or 10 years of continuous Plan membership
- provide medical evidence that supports the presence of a “total and permanent” disability, and
- submit an application to OPTrust and be approved.
Note: Totally and permanently disabled is defined as:
a physical or mental impairment that prevents the individual from engaging in any employment for which the individual is reasonably suited by virtue of his or her education, training or experience and that can reasonably be expected to last for the remainder of the individual’s lifetime.
In order to receive a disability benefit, the member must apply to OPTrust and satisfy the above criteria. The member must also resign from his/her current employment. A medical assessment is made and provided to OPTrust. Based on this medical assessment, OPTrust makes a decision with respect to eligibility for disability benefits.
The member’s total credit or membership in the Plan will determine if the member is eligible for either a disability pension, or a special disability refund.
If the member has less than 10 years of pension credit and membership, the member may receive a special disability refund.
This refund is a one-time lump-sum payment based on the member’s contributions plus interest. The formula used by OPTrust to calculate a special disability refund is:
all contributions, plus interest for purchases of credit where the employer did not contribute
any Commuted Value + excess contributions, plus interest
If the member has more than 10 years of pension credit or continuous membership, the member may be eligible for a disability pension calculated using the Plan’s basic retirement pension formula. The pension benefit is based on the member’s credit in the Plan up to the date of termination. It will be reduced for CPP integration at age 65.
A disability pension is payable for the member’s lifetime providing that the member remains totally and permanently disabled. If the medical condition of the member improves, and the member is able to return to work, the disability pension would cease.
As with all OPTrust pensions, disability pensions are adjusted every January for the increase in the cost of living (as measured by the Consumer Price Index). The adjustment is applied the year after the pension commences. Any pension paid to an eligible survivor will also be increased annually for inflation.
Disability retirees are may be eligible to receive post-retirement health and dental benefits.
Note: Individuals who do not qualify for a disability pension, but did receive a disability refund are not eligible to receive post-retirement insured benefits.
Long Term Income Protection and a Disability Pension
Members have the option to apply for LTIP benefits before applying for a disability pension. If LTIP is approved, the member will receive 66 2/3% of his/her monthly earnings, which may be a higher income than a disability pension.
Also to consider, while in receipt of LTIP benefits, the employer continues to make pension contributions on the member’s behalf and therefore the member is accruing more credit in the OPSEU Pension Plan.
However, LTIP benefits are reduced for any other benefits the member may be receiving (e.g. CPP disability pension, or benefits from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board). An OPTrust disability pension is not reduced for any other benefits the member may receive.
Employers must contribute on the member's behalf if the member "qualifies" to receive LTIP, whether or not the member is in receipt of an LTIP benefit and whether or not the member is a WSIB claimant. Either regular contributions based on full-time employment or LTIP contributions based on full-time employment are required, not both.
Important! If the member is age 55 or older, they may elect to receive an immediate reduced pension while the disability benefit application is processed. If the disability pension is later approved, OPTrust will pay the retroactive benefit for the difference. This is not available if member is applying for a disability refund.