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California Public Employees Retirement System


If you are a public employee and have a disabling injury or illness that prevents you from performing your usual job duties with your current employer, you may be eligible for disability or industrial disability retirement through CalPERS.


To be eligible, an employee must be “substantially incapacitated from the performance of duty.” This “substantial incapacity” must be due to a medical condition of permanent or extended and uncertain duration (lasting longer than 6 months), on the basis of competent medical opinion.

Neither disability retirement has an age requirement, but generally, you must have at least five years of service credit to be eligible for Disability Retirement, and Second Tier members must have 10 years. Some exceptions apply to the service requirement. Contact CalPERS to see if you qualify.

If your disability or industrial disability retirement is approved, you'll receive a monthly retirement payment for the rest of your life or until you recover from your injury or illness.


If your disability or industrial disability retirement is denied, you should consult with an experienced attorney regarding appealing the denial. Please note that you have 30 days of the mailing of the determination letter to file an appeal.

Though appeal hearings are “public hearings,” they are generally not attended by anyone except the actual parties involved. The party challenging the CalPERS decision will have the burden of proof and will proceed first. Evidence is presented (usually medical records) and witnesses are called (usually medical experts and the employee who filed the application). These hearings are treated very much like “trials”, and CalPERS will be represented by an attorney, so it is highly recommended (though NOT required) that the employee be represented by an attorney as well.

If you have any questions whether you qualify for Disability or Industrial Disability retirement benefits, or if you have received a denial of benefits notice from CalPERS and notice of appeal, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or

California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS): Practices


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