In order to get an accidental disability retirement in Massachusetts you must prove that you are permanently disabled from performing the essential duties of your position. Also, the cause of your permanent disability must be job-related. If you are a civil service police officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain or firefighter, the major duties are set forth in the essential task list for your position, which is promulgated by the Human Resources Division of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance. Otherwise, your major duties will be set forth in the job description for your position.
The first step in any public employee disability retirement case is to have your treating doctor complete a Physician’s Statement in support of your Application. Your treating physician must state that you are permanently incapable of performing your essential functions and that disability is job-related. In other words, the doctor must answer “yes” to the questions of disability, permanency, and causation.
In order to be awarded a disability retirement pursuant to M.G.L. c. 32, § 7, you will have to prove that you are permanently incapable of performing the essential duties of your position. Your retirement board must decide the case on all the evidence. To obtain an accidental, as opposed to an ordinary, disability retirement you must further demonstrate you are permanently unable to perform the essential duties of your job due to a personal injury sustained or hazard undergone as a result of, and while in the performance of, your duties at some definite time and at some definite place. This requires you to prove a causal connection between your disability and your employment duties. You must demonstrate that you satisfy all of the above-listed requirements by a preponderance of the evidence.
In order to satisfy the “strict causation standard” you must prove either that (1) your disability arose from a single work-related event or series of events at work or (2) if the disability was the product of gradual deterioration, that the employment exposed you to an identifiable condition that is not common and necessary to all or a great many occupations.
A Disability Retirement Lawyer may be able to help you prove your case to your local, regional, or state retirement board.