The possibility of experiencing a disability isn’t top of mind for most of us, but sadly the financial ability to get through a time of disability isn’t, either. According to recent statistics posted on simplyinsurance.com, 51 million working adults in the U.S. are without disability insurance, and 25% of today’s 20-year-olds will be out of work for a year or more because of a disability before retirement.
However, as a Colorado PERA member, you have access to a disability program in the event that you cannot work due to an illness or accident. This is in addition to coverage your employer may provide. You automatically become eligible to apply for PERA’s disability program after earning five years of service credit. (Judges and Safety Officers have different requirements.) If you need it, you’ll have access to short-term disability coverage or a disability retirement, depending on your disabling condition.
There is no cost to you. You don’t have to pay any additional premiums or fees; the benefits are built into your PERA membership.
You must apply for PERA’s disability program within 90 days after you leave PERA-covered employment.
If you miss the 90-day window to apply, you are no longer eligible for PERA’s disability coverage.
Because timing is crucial, if you are leaving PERA-covered employment because of a medical condition, consider applying for a disability benefit as soon as possible so you don’t miss the 90-day window. You can even apply while you are still working. Don’t wait until your workers’ compensation or employer-sponsored disability coverage ends. By then it could be too late to apply for coverage with PERA.
Detailed information on PERA’s disability program including the link to apply online is available on the Disability Benefits page on copera.org.