Know Your Benefits: Disability Retirements

Many of us dream about retirement, but not one of us pictures leaving the workplace because we can’t perform our duties anymore. Yet the truth is debilitating medical conditions do happen. Though we hope you never have to use them, NYSLRS members have certain benefits available should you become permanently disabled from performing the duties of your job.

This post is an overview of common disability benefits and how to file for them. It is important to review your retirement plan booklet for specific benefit and eligibility information, and contact us with any questions you have, before you file an application.

Disability Retirements


Most members are eligible for what’s called an ordinary disability retirement benefit. Usually, it provides whichever is greater:

  1. 1.66 percent of your final average salary (FAS) for each year of credited service; or
  2. 1.66 percent of your FAS for each year of credited service, plus 1.66 percent of your FAS for each year of service you might have earned before age 60, up to one-third of your FAS.

To qualify for an Article 15 disability retirement benefit, you must have at least ten years of credited service, unless your disability results from an accident you sustain on the job. If your disability results from an on-the-job accident, not due to your own willful negligence, there is no minimum service requirement.

Some members have plans that may provide an accidental disability retirement benefit. The benefit amount varies depending on your system (Employees Retirement System or Police and Fire Retirement System), tier and plan. It’s a lifetime benefit, but may be reduced by amounts received from workers’ compensation or Social Security. There is no minimum service requirement for an accidental disability retirement.

“Accident” has a special meaning when used in connection with Retirement System disability benefits. Whether an incident is an “accident” is determined on a case by case basis, using court decisions for guidance.

Members of the Police and Fire Retirement System as well as some members of the Employees Retirement System, such as sheriffs and correctional officers, may be entitled to a performance-of-duty disability benefit. The benefit amount and eligibility requirements vary depending on your system, tier and plan.


You, your employer, or someone you authorize may file a disability application on your behalf. If you think you might be eligible for a disability retirement, you may want to file your application sooner, rather than later, because there are strict filing deadlines that must be met. If you meet the requirements for a service retirement too, you can apply for both at the same time. If your disability application is approved, you will be able to choose which benefit you accept.

World Trade Center Presumption

If you participated in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or clean-up operations, you may be eligible to apply for a benefit under the World Trade Center Presumption Law. The deadline for members to file a notice with NYSLRS has been extended to September 11, 2018.

Resources/More Information

For specific benefit and eligibility information, be sure to read your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page. Also, check out our Disability Retirements page and our VO1802 Life Changes: Applying for Disability Retirement booklet. You can reach our Call Center by email using our secure contact form or toll-free at 1-866-805-0990 (518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area).

8 thoughts on “Know Your Benefits: Disability Retirements

  1. JJT


    Looks like there’s a typo in this post – below I’ve copied and pasted the section I think needs a look:

    “Usually, it provides whichever is greater:

    1. 66 percent of your final average salary (FAS) for each year of credited service; or
    2. 66 percent of your FAS for each year of credited service, plus 1.66 percent of your FAS for each year of service you might have earned before age 60, up to one-third of your FAS.”

    I believe both of those “66 percent” should be “1.66 percent”.

    (Of course, with 23 years service, I sure wouldn’t mind if you kept the 66% in there, since the annual disability benefit would be pretty hefty if you multiplied that by my number of years of service!)

  2. Kevin Shaughnessy

    My husband was made to retire 6 yrs ago from NYS DOC after 26.5 years of service due to 3 injuries at work. He could no longer do his job. He did his 1 on 1 exit interview and disability retirement was never mentioned. He is still fighting comp who has not paid him since retiring. He has had 3 back surgeries. Is there any help for the disability retirement?

    1. NYSLRS

      Unfortunately, in order to apply for a disability retirement benefit from NYSLRS, there are filing deadlines. Generally the deadlines are no later than one or two years after leaving employment, depending on the type of disability benefit.

      But the NYSLRS Social Media Team doesn’t have access to your husband’s retirement account, so he should contact our customer service representatives for account-specific information. He can email them using the secure email form on our website (see link below). A representative will review his account and respond to his questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact him about his personal account information.

  3. William Treco

    Does stage 4 renal failure (kidney disease) qualify as a non job related illness. I currently have dialysis 5 days a week and am in desperate need of a kidney transplant.

    1. NYSLRS

      Generally, if you are unable to perform your duties because of a permanent physical or mental incapacity, and if you have ten or more years of service credit, you may be eligible for an ordinary disability retirement benefit. We have sent you a private message with more information.

  4. Army Girl 444

    I have been waiting since july 2018 for a ordinary retirement disabiltiy decision. it took over 16 months to get an IME and the DR found me permannetly incapacitated from my current duties. how long is the process after this? my “worker” never return my call or emails concerning my case. I am still waiting for a decision and it is january 2020. i have not had an income since 2019. it is extremly hard to live like this. any information i am greatful for thank you.


Leave a Reply