A firefighter or police officer serving the neighborhoods of Los Angeles put her life at risk to protect the community. Not surprisingly, many officers and firefighters get hurt or sickened while on the job.
However, life can take a turn for the worse for off-duty firefighters and police officers as well. As a common example, anyone of them can suffer a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident while they are in their personal vehicles.
Or, they could develop or some other serious medical condition which keeps them sidelines from work.
The same agency which administers retirement pensions for police officers and firefighters also handle these pensions. Disability pension benefits are typically awarded for life, but both the employee and the agency have the option to review the status at any time.
The good news is that a public employee can qualify for a disability pension without regard to whether his injury happened while in the line of duty.
An employee seeking a non-service connected pension, that is, for an injury or illness not connected to work, must have credit for 5 years of service.
The application process for a disability pension, as well the process used to calculate and award them, are rather complicated and detailed.
Generally speaking, the amount awarded will depend on the severity of the disability as well as the legal tier in which the officer or firefighter belong. Although still helpful, pension benefits are lower when a disability is not connected to work.
On the other hand, for a work-related injury, someone who obtains a disability pension may also have to turn over all or part of his or her workers’ compensation award.