- Disability Benefits
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TCRS provides benefits for three types of disability retirement: ordinary disability, accidental disability, and inactive disability. While some requirements differ, under all types, benefits are paid only to members who are unable to work due to a total and permanent disability that can be medically-determined. Whether the disability is physical or mental, it must prevent any substantial gainful employment.
Gainful employment means any type of work which results in earnings considered by the Social Security Administration to be gainful for disability recipients from that system -- currently $980 or more per month. It is important to note that eligibility for TCRS disability benefits is not determined by a member’s inability to perform his current job, but rather by the inability to perform any type of gainful employment.
• Ordinary Disability — To become eligible for ordinary disability, a member must have five years of creditable service and suffer a disabling condition during a period of active employment prior to service retirement eligibility.
• Accidental Disability — No minimum service is required for accidental disability benefits. However, the member must apply within one year of paid service or within two years of the injury and the disability must be the result of a job-related accident or injury that occurs without negligence on the part of the member while he is performing his duty.
• Inactive Disability — The system also provides special benefits for members who have five years of creditable service but who are not in service at the time of disability. This applies to political subdivision employees only if the provision was authorized by the local government. The benefit is the actuarial equivalent of the retirement benefit that would have been payable at age 55.
Recipients of ordinary disability benefits receive 90 percent of what they would receive under regular service retirement. Service retirement benefits are calculated by using a formula which takes into account the member’s average final compensation (AFC), years of creditable service, and the social security integration level.
• Average Final Compensation (AFC) — The AFC is the average of your five highest consecutive years of salary. The benefit payable at retirement cannot exceed 94.5 percent of your average final compensation.
• Creditable Service — Creditable service means membership service under the TCRS plus any other periods of service credited to you by the retirement system. Service credit may be accrued for full-time service as a state employee, as a public school teacher in Tennessee, or as an employee of certain local governments in Tennessee. In addition, you may be entitled to establish credit for other types of service.