Notice Requirements for Accidental Disability Retirements

G. L. c. 32 § 7 (1) imposes strict reporting requirements which must be satisfied when applying for an accidental disability retirement in Massachusetts. Specifically, the law requires that your ADR application must be filed within two (2) years of the personal injury or hazardous exposure which you sustained, unless a notice of injury was filed with your local retirement board within ninety (90) days of the injury date.

There are a few exceptions to the reporting requirements. For example, if you are a public employee who is classified in Group 2, 3, or 4, you are excused from the reporting requirement if you were placed on Injured on Duty (IOD) leave pursuant to G.L. c. 41 § 111F or if the official records of your department contain injury reports. Likewise, if you received workers’ compensation payments for the injury upon which your Accidental Disability Retirement claim is based, you are excused from the 2 year filing limitation.

Limiting filings in cases where the injury was sustained more than 2 years prior to the filing may appear severe and the Division of Administrative Law Appeals has recognized the application of this rule sometimes has harsh impacts. However, DALA has noted that it is up to the Legislature to change the law if that is what is warranted. Otherwise, the law must be applied as written and if no recognized exception applies, only injuries and hazardous exposures which have occurred during the 2 year period immediately preceding the ADR application date can be relied upon as justification for the retirement.

Given the above-mentioned reporting requirements, public employees should file injury reports whenever they sustain an injury in the workplace and they should adequately document exposure to occupational hazards. Unless injury reports are placed on file in the official records of the injured employee’s department for those classified in Groups 2, 3, or 4, it is the injured employee’s department head’s legal obligation to notify the Retirement Board within 15 days of learning of the occupational injury.