Accidental Disability Retirement (ADR) and Ordinary Disability Retirement (ODR) - FAQs

What is the difference between Accidental Disability Retirement (ADR) and Ordinary Disability Retirement pension benefits?
  • ADR benefits accrue when someone suffers a work-related injury or illness that prevents them from doing their job. ODR benefits accrue when someone has a non-work-related injury or illness that prevents them from doing their job. If you suffer an injury on the job, you are entitled to ADR benefits. If you got sick and your sickness had nothing to do with your work, then you would only be entitled to ODR benefits.
Are ADR benefits offset by workers' compensation payments?
  • Maybe. If you are collecting workers' compensation benefits and you are also collecting an ADR pension based on the same injury, then your ADR benefit will be offset by your workers' compensation payments.
What is a Superannuation pension?
  • This is a normal retirement pension that is not based on any disability. It is based on your age and years of service at the time of your retirement.
Is my superannuation pension offset by workers' compensation?
  • No. You are allowed to collect both.
How much am i entitled to under an ADR pension?
  • Your base rate of pay is equal to 72% of your pre-injury wages. There are options, however, which could reduce this amount. For example, if you chose to have money set aside for a beneficiary in the event of your death, you would receive less than the 72%, but the benefits would continue for your surviving beneficiary after your death.
How much am I entitled to under my superannuation pension?
  • This amount will vary depending upon you age and years of service for you Employer. Generally, your retirement board will be able to give you a breakdown of what you will receive depending upon when you retire.
If I am approved for an ADR pension, am I allowed to work?
  • Yes, but there are limitations on your earnings. Your ADR pension rate, plus your new earnings cannot exceed the earnings from your old job + $5000.00.

    Suppose that your old job paid you $50,000 per year. Take $50,000 + $5,000 = $55,000. Monthly, this turns out to be $4,583.33. Suppose your ADR pension rate is $2000 per month. The difference between the two is (4583.33 – 2000.00) is $2,583.33. This is the amount you would be allowed to earn while collecting your ADR pension. Anything above this amount could reduce your pension rate.

How do i apply?
  • You obtain an application for your Retirement Board, or online at http://www.mass.gov/perac/disunit/formsannoun.htm. Once obtained, the application must be filled out in it's entirety. Certain other documents must be provided as well, such as a birth certificate, marriage license, etc. Also, you must have your doctor fill out and sign the Physician's Statement. Once this is done, the application must be submitted to your Retirement Board.
What is the Regional Medical Panel?
  • As part of any application for ADR or ODR benefits, the applicant must be examined by a Regional Medical Panel of doctors. These doctors will conduct an examination and make a determination to the following questions: 1) Is the member physically or mentally incapable of performing the essential duties of his or her job. 2) Is said incapacity likely to be permanent. 3) (ADR only) Is said incapacity such as might be the natural and proximate cause of the personal injury sustained or hazard undergone on account of which retirement is claimed.

    The applicant can choose whether or not he or she wants to be examined by 3 doctors at once in a single examination, or attend 3 separate examinations.

Is there a hearing?
  • Every Retirement Board handles these cases differently. Many require a hearing to be conducted at some point or points during the application process. Some Boards conduct the hearing after the Medical Panel reports are in. Others conduct the hearing prior to the Panel.
Do i need a lawyer to represent me?
  • It is not required for you to have an attorney throughout this process. However, an experienced attorney who has handled Accidental Disability Retirement and Ordinary Disability Retirement cases in the past can help you throughout the process. While these cases are not handled in an adversarial type system, Retirement Boards generally have very little oversight and can conduct the proceedings as they see fit. An experienced attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
What if i am denied?
  • If you are denied at the initial level by your Retirement Board, there is an appeals process. First the matter is appealed to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals. Generally, a new hearing is conducted in front of an Administrative Magistrate. An attorney will likely appear on behalf of the respective Retirement Board. There are strict timing requirements to file these appeals. This is why an experienced attorney can help.
How long can this appeal process take?
  • There is no definitive answer, but at present it is not uncommon to wait over 2 years before a hearing at DALA.
What if DALA denies my claim?
  • The next step in the appeal process is to appeal to the Contributory Retirement Appeal Board (CRAB).
What if CRAB denies my claim?
  • The final step would be to appeal to civil court.