As a member of the Judges Plan, you have disability protection. This is an important benefit since it will pay you disability benefits for your lifetime, or until you are no longer disabled. Your age at the time of your disability is not a factor.
To qualify for disability benefits, you need five years of service and must meet the definition of disability.
The governor determines whether you are disabled. If the governor determines, based on medical reports, that you are no longer able to perform your judicial duties, the governor may grant you a disability.
How we calculate the disability benefit
We calculate your disability benefit the same way we calculate your retirement benefit, with one exception: we do not apply a reduction in benefit if you are under normal retirement age (age 65).
As a disabled judge, you are entitled to full salary for one year after the disability date, but not beyond age 70. During the one-year period, retirement deductions continue. You earn service credit and increase your high-five average salary. MSRS disability benefits start after the year of paid salary.
If you have ended your employment, the disability must have occurred while employed in a MSRS covered position.
Survivor coverage with a disability benefit
When you apply for a disability benefit just before the end of your one year of full salary, you can choose the Single-Life benefit, a Joint-and-Survivor benefit (100, 75, or 50 percent with or without the bounce-back feature) or the Life Income 15-year certain option. For more detail, see Retirement Benefit Options.
If you did not select a Joint-and-Survivor option and die, any balance in your retirement account is refunded, in the following order, to: your beneficiary, spouse, children, parents, estate. Generally, your account balance is gone approximately two to three years of receiving benefits.
If you die while receiving full salary for the one-year period, your surviving spouse is eligible for a monthly benefit equal to 60% of the full retirement benefit earned at date of death, but not less than 25% of your high-five salary. If the spouse is over age 60, then they are eligible for the 100% Joint-and-Survivor option. If there is no spouse but there is a dependent child or children, then payment continues until age 18, or until age 22 if your child is a full-time student.
For more information about a disability benefit, please contact MSRS at 1-800-657-5757.