OPERS submits 2017 Disability Activity Report to Governor, Retirement Study Council
OPERS recently submitted its 2017 Disability Activity Report to the Governor and the Ohio Retirement Study Council. The report, required by law, includes a description of our program, including eligibility criteria and plan features. In 2017, OPERS paid out $647 million in disability benefits and preliminary figures indicate an additional $316 million in health care coverage for disabled workers and their dependents.
Independent, medically-based decisions remain a cornerstone of the program. Program processes provide a forum for applicants and physicians to engage in one-on-one communication for greater explanation of relevant medical information.
OPERS has also made important reforms to the disability program over the years in an effort to modernize the program and improve the process. Overall, the number of members receiving disability benefits declined from a high of 23,711 in 2013 to 22,539 in 2017. However, the number of members of the Law Enforcement/Public Safety division receiving disability benefits has remained steady over that same time period. (1,667 in 2013 and 1,674 in 2017.) Members of the LE/PS division are exempt from the changes made to the disability program in Senate Bill 343.
With respect to the 2017 program experience:
- There was a slight decline in the number of applications received in 2017 from 2016 (920 applications in 2017 compared to 944 in 2016). That continues an overall downward trend since program adjustments were first implemented.
- Approval rates have remained relatively consistent with the prior year.
- In 2017, the program continued its focus on rehabilitative services. Those who are able to improve their condition are supported in their recovery through clinical services and case management, with a goal of returning to employment.
- OPERS surveyed participants following completion of a case management service and found a high level of satisfaction with their rehabilitative services experience.
- 87 percent satisfied with their case manager
- 92 percent had positive interactions with their case manager
- 79 percent found the resources provided helpful
- 87 percent found feedback from their clinical case manager helpful
A copy of our report is available at opers.org