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How to fight a forced medical retirement?


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  • How to fight a forced medical retirement?

    I always heard that if you got hurt on the job, unless you were like paralyzed or something, your protected from being forced off medically as long as your doing everything the doctors are telling you. I got this ripped plantar fascia and tendonitis in my heel that so far is not getting better with all the types of treatments leading to surgery. From what i have learned about this [email protected]#$%ng condition, in problem cases it can take a long time (several months or more) and lucky me this is the kind I've gotten. Its gone on also to wreck my back and knee.

    I resisted getting a workcomp attorney because I didn't want to rock the boat and didn't really feel like I was going to be needing one at first. Now I'm getting like veiled threats from admin-folks. I talked these over with my poa president and he explained that it sounds like admin might be looking to cut their losses with me because I've been off regualr duty for so long while Ive been in a cast/being treated. He told me about bigger goings on that have to do with budget issues and recruitment issues/academy timelines that shouldnt have anything to do with me but might be involved here. He told me basically that I need an attorney to protect me so I've made some calls to a couple of work comp attrneys guys around the department recommended to me. I haven't actually gotten in to talk it over with any yet, though. Next week.

    Anyway I'm kind of worried now because not knowing much about this; never got hurt before. Does anyone know about how this works from their own experiences? Can departments force you out medicaly if you arent back full duty fast enough? Is it a year from when you got hurt or a year from when your off regular duty? I dont want to be forced out at all and its pretty disappointing to get the damaged goods treatment.

    Any and all thoughts are really appreciated.

    Barkingdog - California patrol cop

  • #2
    When you condition becomes permanent and stationary (does not look like it is going to get significantly better) the department's doctor will evaluate your ability to physically perform the minimum requirements of the job. To this end, your agency should maintain a duty statement listing minimum physical performance standards. If you can't perform them, the department can (and most likely will) separate you. Your options then are to take a disability retirement, or demote or transfer to another civil service class (non-peace officer) within the city that is within your physical limitations. Demotion or transfer is usually a bad choice. It takes you out of CalPERS public safety and puts your remaining service in the miscellaneous member category. In addition, it usually pay and benefit cuts as well.

    On the bright side, if you are under age 50 you will retain reinstatement rights to your old job. What this means is, if a year or two down the line you become well enough to perform you old job, you can give up your retirement and be reinstated.

    Once retired, there are almost no limits on your outside earning abilities (except for other CalPERS covered jobs).

    As long as you are not permanent and stationary, you are entitled to one year of 4800 time for your work related injury (from when you're off). If you are still not permanent and stationary after a year (which is very rare) you can get an additional 4 years of temporary disability pay. It is not as lucrative as 4800 time and (I believe) runs no more than $1600 per month, so you will have to supplement it with unused leave credits.

    A word of warning here. CalPERS is taking about 18 months to process disability retirements. If you are over 50, it's not that big of a problem. You simply apply for a service retirement pending approval of a disability retirement and should see a check in a two or three months. However, if you are under 50, you will have to wait it out with no income other than living off what remaining leave credits you may (or may not) have. This means you need to set ego aside, not kid yourself and decide whether you can really do the job anymore. If you can't do the job, then ASAP you need to set a strategy for filing your retirement. Otherwise, you will may go for a year and a half with no money until that first, (retroactive) pension check comes in.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


    • #3
      Thanks L-1

      Thats alot to digest. I really appreciate the breakdown. You covered some of the questions that have been eating at me. No, I can't honestly do the job (patrol) now (not safely)and I've become more and more worried that its going to take more than a year to get me right because of my lack of progress before surgery. The after surgery progress in the best case sounds like it could take me close to that year line, which is the scary part. Can they count the time when your on lite duty against you, or only the time when your off work completly? That was another question I had as I've been staying on lite duty as much as possible. If the lite duty time doesnt count against me, then I'm much less worried about the 1 year time limit part. I hope that makes sense. I just want to swing this without getting seperated. Were a 1 income household and Im only 41, so with the delays you described with retirement processings, its especially really crucial to me to avoid that. We would sink big time - Ive only been at my department for a year and change so I dont have a lot of familarity like I did at my first department. Im told my current department is real cut and dry with injured officers and has cut some guys in the past when it sounded like they should have worked with them better/more.

      What you said about renstatement rights was really good to know, for worst case scenario thinking. Do you recommend where I can get more educated on this stuff (do they make cop-comp laws 'for dummies' books?). I hope not to go there but getting informed is definitely better than wondering about everything all the time.

      Thank you - Barkingdog


      • #4
        Check your PM.
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


        • #5
          If they have enough prrof you can't do the job 100% you are out and are wasting your time fighting it. If you win they may find reason to terminate.
          If you loose you ahve the medical plus HUGE attorny fees.
          Your chances of winning maybe 7%


          • #6
            Thanks to Arnold, the workman comp reform now sucks. As you can see my member name is deputy x 2. Well deputy 1, was medically retired and we know first hand about the WC system.

            First off, you need to get the attorney. It doesn't rock the boat, actually it helps. In our dept you can be on 4850 time for only one year. You receive a paycheck with no taxes taken out. If you can't return to full duty, they give you 9 months of limited duty. After that my brother...they say good bye.

            Hopefully you purchased long term disability which can subsidize your income. With our long term disability, if you receive a settlement, you have to pay them back!

            After being determined as permanent and stationary, it took the dept awhile to finally retire Deputy 1. The medical retirement application takes a year to process. That means, no income. From the date of injury to final retirement was three years!

            I can write forever on this topic. Like I said,"You don't know the process until you go through it." Send me a PM and we can talk in depth over the phone.
            This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.


            • #7
              what deputy X 2 said, get an attorney... it does not rock the boat and it's in your best interest. a few i know were slated for med retirement, got an attorney, worked on their health issues and returned back to full duty. one guy went so far as to have a retirement party and the following week, came back to full duty and is still around..

              I'm sure you've been checked by a QME, you can always get a second opinion though another QME if you don't like the first decision / opinion...
              ''Life's tough......it's tougher if you're stupid.''
              -- John Wayne


              • #8
                What is "4800 time" and "4850 time"?


                • #9
                  med retirement

                  4850 time- refers to a work related injury where you receive your check with no taxes taken out. There is a one year limit.
                  This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.


                  • #10
                    Does it still take a year for the medical retirement to kick in?


                    • #11
                      I believe its running around 3 to 4 months now assuming everything is filed in a timely manner and all your doctors respond with satisfactory documentation in a timely manner the first time around.

                      I believe your workers comp attorney will charge a couple thousand to file the paperwork and stay on top of things for you. It may seem an excessive and needless cost, but it can also save a lot of worry.

                      I filed without an attorney in 2005 when they were taking 18 months. Not having heard a peep from CalPERS after 11 months, I inquired and was informed that eight months prior I was mailed several letters requesting my assistance because CalPERS was having trouble getting documentation from my doctor. When I never responded, they cancelled my disability application. They said I could reapply, (I was receiving regular retirement pending my disability application) but once approved, the disability portion would not be retroactive.

                      When I asked them to check their records, they said the notices were going to an address I had not lived at for 22 years and which was different from that at which my retirement check was going. In spite of the fact that this was their error and not mine, the refused to reinstate my disability application and wanted me to start all over and lose a year of tax free disability pay.

                      I had to battle this out on my own and call a couple of legislators' offices before I got it resolved in my favor, but it would have been a lot simpler if I had just paid my attorney to file the application for me and oversee its handling from the start.
                      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


                      • #12
                        Your light duty time should not be charged as 4850 time. You should have 2080 hours. I added 13 holidays plus 90 days of light duty so it was 16+ months from injury to retirement.

                        With ADD laws they need to prove you can not do the job. That is when a doctor declares you are Permanent & Stationary (P&S). Definitely get an attorney but be prepared to fight for yourself. Their cut is small so you have to stay on them sometimes.


                        • #13
                          Workers' comp attorneys are paid 15% of the final award. There is no cost to the injured worker, so no reason to not lawyer up. Make sure you also ask your attorney about refiling and being re-evaluated on your injury. I think you have up to five years after the injury to do so, even if the case was closed (if I understood my attorney correctly), and it can have significant benefits for you if you are getting close to retirement.
                          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


                          • #14
                            Thank you L-1. I sent you a PM, just for some q&a if you have a chance


                            • #15
                              You don't need to spend money for your attorney to file your medical retirement. One of my partners just went through it and it took about four months after he filed it. I went today on mine and it was a twenty minute meeting at Calpers and they helped me finish the application. Both of us were retired by our agency so there isn't a dispute but I certainly wouldn't spend 2K on it.

                              EDIT: My application was approved within 15 days. No reason to pay an attorney to take care of this part.
                              Last edited by hbliam; 07-06-2014, 11:38 PM.


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