When you think about your LAGERS benefit, probably the first words that come to mind are ‘retirement benefit.’ After all, Retirement System is in our name. But don’t forget that there is more to your benefit than the name may suggest; LAGERS also provides our members with disability and survivor’s benefits.
Don’t think your employer elected these benefits? Think again. Every LAGERS member is automatically covered by both disability and survivor’s benefits. Here’s what you need to know about this important benefit:
All LAGERS members are immediately entitled to duty-related disability and survivors benefits, and all vested members may also be eligible for benefits in the event of a non-duty related death or disability.
Because these benefits are designed to protect a member and those who are financially dependent on the member’s income from financial hardship in the event of a death or disability, a member (or beneficiary) that becomes eligible for one of these benefits receives monthly protected payments for his or her lifetime, plus any applicable cost of living adjustments.
The amount of benefit payable depends on what caused the death or disability. Duty related benefits are paid when a disability or death was caused by your job, and therefore generally pay a more robust benefit to make up the difference in years a member would have worked and continued to earn a benefit had he not become disabled or passed away. However, benefits to vested members may also be payable if the cause of death or disability happened off the job; the benefit then is based upon how much service the member had earned to date.
Here’s one more thing you should remember about these added benefits: make sure you have saved information regarding LAGERS disability/survivors benefits somewhere that is readily available for you and loved ones. For example, put a LAGERS brochure or statement in with your life insurance policies. Members or spouses of members that becomes eligible for these benefits often find themselves in an unexpected situation. Making it as easy as possible to gather information regarding potential benefits can really help to reduce the stress of an already difficult experience. Even more importantly, simply ensuring that a spouse is aware that benefits may be payable should be an important part of your financial plan.
If you ever consider taking a job outside of the LAGERS system, there may still be some benefits payable on a vested account, but payments wouldn’t start until normal retirement age. It’s always a good idea when considering a change in employers to consider your entire benefit package, after all, not all retirement plans offer similar benefits. If a potential employer does not offer similar disability and survivor benefits, it may be worth considering purchasing supplemental insurance to make up the difference.
No one wants to ever find themselves disabled or leave a loved one behind who is unable to financially support themselves. With your LAGERS benefits, it’s one less worry. Visit our website to learn more about this great benefit!