City Of Los Angeles Fire And Police Pension System FAQ
At Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, LLP, we assist clients in matters related to the fire and police pension system of the City of Los Angeles. Here are the answers to some common questions our lawyers receive about these types of cases. To discuss your case with an experienced attorney, call our Woodland Hills office at 818-835-4332 or contact us online.
The department of pensions of the City of Los Angeles administers all applications for disability retirement of any kind, including death benefits. The Board of Pension Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles meets on a regular basis and either approve or deny applications for the aforesaid disability pension benefits.
To qualify for a service-connected disability pension, it must be found that you are permanently incapacitated from the performance of your duties and additionally to duties to which you may be assigned, including light or restricted duties. In order to receive a service-connected disability pension, you must show that your disability is as a result of service-connected causes.
Generally speaking, “service-connected” means work-related; however, there are legal distinctions between benefits that may be received through workers’ compensation and benefits to which you may be entitled under the charter of the City of Los Angeles.
If I am granted a disability retirement, do I get a refund of my contributions that I have made to the pension fund?
No. All individual contributions will be commingled with the contributions made on your behalf by the City of Los Angeles. These contributions and the investments made with the pool funds are the funds from which you receive a monthly pension allowance for the remainder of your life.
You must have a medical condition of such seriousness that it substantially precludes you from undertaking your assigned duties. You will be evaluated by three doctors on behalf of the department of pensions. Accordingly, it is best to consult with your treating doctors prior to filing your application for disability retirement.
If a doctor does support my claim indicating that I cannot perform my job duties, when should I apply?
The timing of the filing of an application is complicated; however, you generally have a right to apply at any time that you are a member of the pension department, or within one year from the separation of service (such as due to resignation, termination or the taking of a service retirement). If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim within this one-year separation of service, you may be allowed to file later. However, it is recommended that you file your disability retirement application before you conclude service with your department wherever possible. If you file after separation of service, you must show that you were disabled at the time of separation and continuously thereafter.
This is a difficult question to answer, but presently most applications seem to take at least nine to 12 months. Sometimes, depending on several factors, the process can take less or more time.
While an attorney is not necessary, nevertheless an attorney can improve the chances of success by presenting the case in an accurate and complete manner. All applications that are brought before the board are prepared by city employees of the department of pensions. These employees are allowed to write a written and detailed recommendation as to how the Board of Pension Commissioners should rule on your application. The police and fire department will also be allowed to have a representative at your hearing, who will make a statement as to whether a job should be made available consistent with your work restrictions.
Attorney fees vary depending on the case. Generally, the largest portion of the fee is on a contingent basis. This means that you do not pay a fee unless you are successful in obtaining a disability retirement.