Public Retirement Attorney

After contacting Juliane, we met about five days later at her South Dennis, Ma office. All my questions were promptly answered. During the litigation she was able to secure some funds from a prior injury that I didn’t know I was even entitled to. These funds helped my family immensely. Through the whole process I was kept well informed. With help from Juliane’s office, I was able to secure social security disability benefits that would probably not have happened without their help. Juliane’s help was incredible and her office family was awesome.
J.C.

Public Retirement Attorney Juliane Soprano Knows the System

The Massachusetts State Retirement System (MSRS) covers State employees and many employees of other public entities.   Benefits payable under this system include retirement, disability, survivor and death benefits to members’ beneficiaries.

There are two types of disability retirement benefits:

  1. Accident Disability Retirement (ADR) benefits are payable to workers injured on the job.  The benefit is 72% of the average of your last 12 months of salary.  There is no minimum number of years of service required and you do not need to be vested.
  2. Ordinary Disability benefits are payable for any illness or injury which is not job related.  You must have a minimum of 10 years of full time creditable service and be vested.   Veterans receive 50% of their last year’s salary average.  Non-veterans younger than their minimum retirement age will have their benefits calculated as if they had reached minimum retirement age.

In order to be eligible for either Ordinary or ADR benefits, you must file an application with the State or your local retirement board.  Part of the application is a medical certificate which must be completed by your treating physician.

Once the application is completed, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) will schedule a medical panel or three individual medical examinations.  The purpose of these examinations is to determine whether you have a medical condition, whether it is work-related (if applying for ADR), whether it disables you from your job, and whether the condition is permanent.

After the medical evaluations are completed the retirement board will meet and vote on whether to approve your application.  The entire process can take a year or more depending on the circumstances.  If you are denied benefits, you have the right to appeal the retirement board’s decision.

Tom the Janitor's Double Workplace Injury
Description: Tom was a janitor at a local school in Massachusetts.  One night after work he was leaving the building and tripped on a stair injuring his knee.  As a result of the workplace injury, he was out of work for several months.  During his recovery, he collected temporary total disability benefits from his employer’s worker’s compensation insurer.  When his knee healed sufficiently from the injury, Tom returned to work. Two months after returning to work at the school, Tom had another injury to his knee. This time he was moving a desk to clean a classroom.  This injury was more severe than the first injury and aggravated his already damaged knee.  Tom had surgery on his knee after the second injury, and once again received worker’s compensation benefits from his employer’s insurance company. After completing his medical treatment for the injury, Tom’s doctor told him he would not be able to return to work as a janitor as he could no longer do the heavy lifting required in the job.

Legal Issue(s): Because Tom is a municipal worker, he then filed an application for Accidental Disability Retirement benefits through his local retirement board. On his application, Tom listed both of the injuries he had at work.  However, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) rejected his application indicating that the first incident he had walking down the stairs after work was not an “injury” as defined by the public retirement system as it did not occur “while he was engaged in the actual performance of his duties”. Tom argued that he had received Worker’s Compensation benefits as a result of this incident and it should be considered in his application.  However, he did not understand that under the Worker’s Compensation system injury is defined differently, and the receipt of Worker’s Compensation benefits does not guarantee Accidental Disability Retirement benefits.

Outcome: Tom contacted Attorney Soprano’s office about the situation. By proving that the second injury, which did occur while Tom was in the “actual performance of his duties”, Attorney Soprano was able win Tom’s case. The value of these benefits to Tom over his expected lifetime would be over $500,000.

 

The Process

  • Initially you will speak with one of our highly trained staff about the nature of your problem.  Once the background information is obtained an attorney will contact you to discuss the matter further.
  • There is no charge for the initial phone consult with an attorney.
  • If the client and the attorney agree that an office meeting is necessary, the attorney will advise you what the fee for the consultation will be.
  • After the initial client meeting, a decision will be made as to whether the attorney will be engaged to represent the client.
  • If the client decides to hire the attorney, the fee for representation will be discussed.  The fees in these cases may be based upon an hourly rate or a flat fee depending on the circumstances and complexity of the issues.