Disability Protection

Monday, March 30, 2020
Ron Gross, our Long Island representative from NYSTRS just put out this important information regarding Disability Protection on the Long Island Presidents Council blog. It was also brought to my attention by ATA Member Steve Gafarian. Thanks Steve! Ron also asked also to remind everyone that you only file if you become ill or are scheduled for surgery:
I hope you and your family are doing well.  So much is going on but I want to focus on one item that we have discussed prior but now it seems, unfortunately,  extremely appropriate to review once again.  As a member of the Teachers Retirement System, you  are entitled to a death benefit worth three times your salary (assuming you ave been teaching at least three years.  It is critical that you check who your beneficiary is since you may have had some life changes since you first signed up.  Please refer to your Benefit Profile or set up a mynystrs account at NYSTRS.org to verify your beneficiaries.  I have attached a change a beneficiary form to this email if you need to make changes.
We also have an option to "File for Disability Protection" if you have at least ten years of service credit in NYSTRS.  Filing for protection gives your family significantly more money if you pass away prior to retirement.  Since this epidemic is fast moving and uncertain, it may be wise to print the forms necessary (see attached) and have them on file in the UNLIKELY event that you might need them in hurry.  Here are the basics that you need to know IF and ONLY IF  you become critically ill or need surgery (see sample attached):
  • Print the TRS disability form 54.1.  You will only need pages 1,2 and 7.
  • Fill out all the information requested.  No need to put down any retirement date
  • Where it says identify your condition or illness, write something specific to your condition such as surgery or coronavirus
  • Select Largest Non-Declining lump sum as your option (page 2).  That is your only choice  for this protection
  • Identify your beneficiary
  • Sign and notarize
  • Fill out Page 7 with your doctors phone number
  • Bring to post office and certify mail it to the address on page 1.  You can fax it to the number on page 1 if you are short on time.
Some might be unsure why we would do this if we became sick.  The simple answer is because there is no downside. You are not retiring and it is only valid if you pass away (that could be the one downside).   If you were to pass away, your family would get an amount higher than the triple death benefit because they will treat you as if you retired on the day you passed away.  That means your beneficiary will get the disability largest non-declining lump sum plus 50 percent of your death benefit (please refer to your profile for your amounts).  Please see the attached slide as an example.  Ninety-nine percent of teachers that file for protection recover and simply rescind their request after they feel better.  What you cant do is send it up when you are not sick but you are worried that you will become sick.  
 I realize this is a difficult conversation to have but it is important that you share this information with your loved ones.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me.  Stay healthy.
Stronger Together,
Here is the link to the NYSTRS Webpage that describes Disability Protection.
Here is the link to form 54.1.
If you want to change your beneficiary click HERE.
If you have any questions or concerns about the information above please contact me.
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