Active members are eligible to apply for duty, occupational or ordinary disability benefits after their medical time expires and they are removed from the CPD payroll due to a medical leave of absence. While on disability, participants are treated as though they are still active members for retirement and dependent annuity purposes pursuant to the Illinois Pension Code. When members begin receiving a disability benefit, they must comply with Board policies and statutory requirements related to the benefit. Failure to comply may result in suspension and/or termination of a disability benefit.
Duty disability may be awarded if a member becomes disabled as the result of an injury incurred in the performance of an act of duty. An act of duty is defined by statute as “any act of police duty inherently involving a special risk, not ordinarily assumed by a citizen in the ordinary walks of life…” It is important to note that there is a distinction between becoming injured while in performance of an “act of duty” and becoming injured while at work. Not all injuries sustained in the ordinary course of a workday qualify as injuries occurring in the performance of an act of duty.
A duty disability benefit award is 75% of the member’s salary at the time the disability is allowed unless the disability resulted from any physical defect or mental disorder or any disease which existed at the time the injury was sustained. In those cases, the duty disability benefit shall be limited to 50% of the member’s salary. This benefit also entitles the member to a child’s disability benefit of $100 per month for each natural or legally adopted, unmarried child under the age of 18 years old.
If a member is receiving a duty disability benefit and believes his or her disability is of such a nature as to render the member totally disabled for any service of a remunerative character, that member may apply for a total and permanent disability benefit. This benefit is 75% of the member’s salary at the time of removal from the police department payroll.
The duty disability benefit award is tax-free. Also, the City of Chicago will provide the member with free medical insurance coverage from the time he or she is awarded disability benefits.
Any officer in receipt of a duty disability benefit is eligible to receive this benefit until such time he or she is found fit for duty, or until age 63 under the mandatory retirement rules of the department, at which time the officer would be eligible to apply for their pension.
Occupational Disease Disability
Occupational disease disability (heart) may be awarded to a member who has suffered a heart attack or any other disabling heart disease. The member must have at least 10 years of service in order to be eligible for this benefit. An occupational disease disability award is 65% of the member’s salary at the time the disability occurs. This benefit also entitles the recipient to a child’s disability benefit of $100 per month for each natural or legally adopted, unmarried child under the age of 18 years old.
The occupational disease disability benefit award is tax-free. Also, the City of Chicago will provide the member with free medical insurance coverage when he or she is awarded occupational disability benefits.
Any member in receipt of an occupational disease disability benefit is eligible to receive this benefit until such time he or she is found fit for duty, or until age 63 under the mandatory retirement rules of the department, at which time the officer would be eligible to apply for his or her pension.
Ordinary disability benefits may be awarded to a member who becomes disabled as the result of any cause other than duty or occupational disease disabilities. The ordinary disability benefit award is 50% of the officer’s salary at the time disability occurs. Officers awarded an ordinary disability benefit are eligible for 1 year for every 4 years of service, with the maximum amount being 5 years. If awarded ordinary disability, there are no eligible children’s benefits available.
Unlike the other categories of disability benefits, ordinary disability benefit payments are taxable by the federal government. Also, the City of Chicago Benefits Office will offer health insurance at a cost for members receiving ordinary disability benefits. Should the member choose the health insurance coverage, he or she will be required to make those premium payments directly to the Benefits Office.
Applying for Disability Benefits
Every active officer is entitled to 365 days of medical time for each injury on duty and 365 medical days within a two-year period. While on the medical roll, a member should prepare for the possibility of applying for disability benefits and begin the disability application process within 2 months prior to expiring the 365 days of medical time. The following steps need to be completed in the order listed:
- Contact the CPD Medical Services Section and notify them of your intention to apply for disability benefits.
- Complete a PAR (Personnel Action Request) Form and medical records release form allowing the Medical Section to copy and send your medical file to the Fund.
- Contact the Pension Fund and notify the disability manager of your intention to apply for disability benefits.
- Complete your application with the Fund after the disability manager contacts you to notify you that the Fund has received your medical files.
- Attend an appointment for examination by a Fund physician.
Once the Fund receives all medical documentation from the Fund physician, the member will be scheduled for a hearing before the Board of Trustees. After the disability hearing, the Board will vote whether to grant or deny the disability benefit application.
Please note if you apply for disability benefits, there will be a period of time when you are without income. That time period will be at least 6 weeks but could be up to several months.
It is important to know that signing the PAR Form to take a leave of absence and the disability application does not lock a member into the disability process. Any officer may rescind the PAR Form and disability application, and the claim for disability benefits will be terminated.
Proof of Disability – Physical Examinations (40 ILCS 5/5-156)
Participants receiving disability benefits shall be examined at least once a year, or longer periods as determined by the Board, by a Board appointed physician. However, the Board has the right to request an examination of any disability participant as deemed necessary.
In cases where the Board requests an applicant to get a second opinion, the applicant must select a physician from a list of qualified licensed and practicing physicians who specialize in the various medical areas related to duty injuries and illnesses, as established by the Board. The Board may require other evidence of disability.
As part of the re-examination process, all disability participants who are working outside of CPD must submit a job description. When a disability ceases, the Board shall discontinue payment of the benefit.