Disability Retirement

This section explains the retirement benefits you receive if you become totally and permanently disabled at any age before your 65th birthday. To qualify, you must be vested, have recent coverage and meet other requirements explained in this section.

Important Topics

Eligibility
Recent Coverage Requirements
Disability Onset Date
Benefit Amount
Pension Effective Date
Losing Eligibility

Eligibility

Your Plan provides a disability retirement benefit if you are under age 65 and meet all of the following requirements:

  1. You are vested, and
  2. You begin receiving Social Security disability benefits (the Plan considers that you begin receiving Social Security benefits on the date of entitlement shown on your Social Security Disability Award Certificate), and
  3. You have recent coverage for disability.

If you take early retirement and then become totally and permanently disabled, you may convert your early retirement benefit to a disability benefit if:

  • You meet all three of the conditions listed above, and
  • Your disability onset date is no more than 24 months after the pension effective date of your early retirement benefit.

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Important Terms

60-Month Period—A period of 60 consecutive calendar months.

Year of Contributory Service—You earn a year of contributory service each year you work at least 500 covered hours.

Earliest Retirement Date—Usually, your earliest retirement date is your 55th birthday. If you are not vested when you reach age 55, your earliest retirement date is postponed until the end of the month in which you vest. Under the Rule of 84 and PEER, your earliest retirement date can be before age 55. Click here to learn more about early retirement.

Disability Onset Date—Your disability onset date is the date (as determined by Social Security) when you first become totally and permanently disabled for purposes of Social Security disability benefits.

Typically, your disability onset date is from five to six months before the date of entitlement shown on your Social Security Disability Award Certificate.Page Top link

Recent Coverage if Disabled Before Age 55

If you become totally and permanently disabled before age 55, there are two ways you can have recent coverage for disability:

  • You have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending with the month of your disability onset date, or
  • You have 1,500 covered hours in any 60-month period ending after you complete 25 years of contributory service but before your disability onset date.Page Top link

Recent Coverage if Disabled After Age 55

If you become totally and permanently disabled after your earliest retirement age (usually age 55), there are four ways you can have recent coverage for disability:

  • You can have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending with the month of your disability onset date, or
  • You can have 1,500 covered hours in any 60-month period ending after your earliest retirement date but before your disability onset date, or
  • You can have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending just before your earliest retirement date, or
  • You can have 1,500 covered hours in any 60-month period ending after you complete 25 years of contributory service but before your disability onset date.

Note: If you are not vested on your disability onset date, then you do not have recent coverage for disability unless you have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending with the month in which you become vested. In this situation, the Plan counts any covered hours you earn during the first 12 months after your disability onset date toward meeting the recent coverage for disability requirement. Any covered hours beyond that 12-month period are not counted.

Click here for an example that shows the disability retirement benefit amounts that an eligible participant would receive at age 55 in different situations.Page Top link

Special Recent Coverage Rule for Disability Retirement

A special recent coverage rule may apply if you do not have recent coverage for disability to qualify for a disability retirement benefit (as explained above).

This rule helps participants qualify for Plan disability retirement benefits if they become totally disabled from working in covered employment but are not yet immediately eligible for Social Security disability benefits (because they are still able to perform some types of work).

To qualify for disability retirement benefits from the Plan under this special rule, you must be totally disabled from working in your usual covered Teamster job during one or more of the 59 months just before you become totally and permanently disabled from performing any job. There are other requirements as well.

When you apply for disability retirement benefits, Plan representatives let you know if you don’t have recent coverage for disability under the regular rules. They explain how to apply for a determination to find out whether you qualify under the special recent coverage rule.

You can then complete a special application form and return it with proof of your total disability from covered employment. You also receive an explanation of the types of proof of disability that are accepted.

Note: Special procedures apply to handling your application for recent coverage under the special recent coverage rule for disability retirement. Click here for more information.

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Benefit Amount

If you are not yet eligible for early retirement, your disability retirement benefit equals 85% of the normal retirement benefit you earn up to the effective date of your disability benefit.

If you are eligible for early retirement, your disability retirement benefit equals the early retirement benefit you would receive if you took early retirement rather than disability retirement.

However, your disability benefit is never less than 85% of the normal retirement benefit you earn up to the effective date of your disability benefit.

Your disability retirement benefit is calculated using only the basic employer contributions you earn up to your disability pension effective date. Contributions you earn for covered hours after that date are not included, with one exception. If your pension agreement specifically requires your employer to make contributions to the Pension Trust based on your disability, the Plan counts those basic contributions in the calculation of the contribution account benefit portion of your disability retirement benefit. However, this exception only recognizes basic contributions for covered hours through the month that includes the first anniversary of the last day you were actively at work or your disability onset date, whichever is earlier. Contributions for covered hours after that month are not counted.

Click here for an explanation of the types of early retirement benefits and the eligibility rules and benefit amounts for each. For example, if you qualify for PEER on the effective date of your disability benefit, your benefit is 100% of your normal retirement benefit.

These amounts assume you choose a life only pension. If you choose a form of payment other than the life only pension, your benefit amount is different.

You must apply for benefits with your Plan’s Area Administrative Office. Click here for information on how to apply for benefits and how to choose your pension effective date. Page Top link

Pension Effective Date

You can choose to have your disability retirement benefit start on the first day of any month after you become eligible for disability retirement. Your disability retirement benefit cannot begin before the date of entitlement printed on your Social Security Disability Award Certificate. Disability benefits continue until you are no longer eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the requirements for choosing a disability pension effective date. Page Top link

Losing Eligibility

Your disability retirement benefit continues as long as you remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If you remain eligible until age 65, Plan disability benefits continue for life even if you later recover from the disability.

If you recover from your disability before age 65, Plan disability retirement benefits stop. Generally, you lose eligibility for disability benefits from the Plan when you lose eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

If Plan disability benefits stop before your earliest retirement date (usually age 55), you can apply for early retirement benefits as soon as you qualify.

If Plan disability benefits stop after your earliest retirement date, your monthly amount is converted to an early retirement benefit (payable under the same payment option that applied to your disability benefit and in the same amount).

If you lose eligibility before your earliest retirement date, you must repay any disability retirement benefits you receive after your eligibility ends.

If your Social Security disability benefits stop, you must contact your Area Administrative Office immediately to see how your Plan benefits are affected. Do not delay.Page Top link

When to Apply For a Disability Benefit

If you are a vested participant under age 55 and waiting to receive your Social Security Disability Award Certificate, you should apply for disability retirement benefits immediately.

If you are eligible for early retirement when you become disabled, you should apply for early retirement right away. This allows you to begin receiving your Plan benefit during Social Security’s five-month waiting period plus additional months before your Social Security disability benefits begin. If you take early retirement and your benefit is later converted to a disability retirement benefit, your benefit amount may be adjusted.

Disability benefits continue until you are no longer eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Click here for questions and answers about Disability Retirement. Page Top link