Disability Benefits

About Disability Benefits

STRS Ohio has two disability benefit programs for members participating in the Defined Benefit Plan — disability allowance and disability retirement.

  • Teachers who became members of STRS Ohio after July 29, 1992, participate under the disability allowance program and should read the Disability Allowance brochure for an explanation of their disability benefits.
  • Teachers who were members of STRS Ohio on or before July 29, 1992, participate in either the disability allowance or the disability retirement program. Members who chose the disability allowance program should read the Disability Allowance brochure for an explanation of their disability benefits. Members who chose the disability retirement program should read the Disability Retirement brochure for an explanation of their disability benefits.

Teachers who are also members of OPERS and/or SERS must apply for disability benefits with the retirement system where they have the most service credit. The system with the most service will determine and pay the disability benefit.

Members who are unsure of their program selection should refer to their Annual Statement of Account or contact STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877.

Disability Benefits Presentation

 
Disability Benefits · Video Script

STRS Ohio offers disability benefits for members who have a physical or mental condition that incapacitates them from performing the job duties of their most recent STRS Ohio-covered position. This presentation provides an overview of the process of applying for disability benefits and includes: important considerations, the steps a member needs to complete to apply, what happens after the application is received by STRS Ohio, and when benefits become effective.

Disability Benefit Programs

Disability Allowance

To qualify for disability allowance benefits, an STRS Ohio member must:

  • Meet either of the following:

Existing members on June 30, 2013, must have at least 5.00 years of qualifying service credit* on account with STRS Ohio and submit a completed application packet within two years of the last date of earned service.

New members on or after July 1, 2013, must have at least 10.00 years of qualifying service credit* on account with STRS Ohio and submit a completed application packet within one year of the last date of earned service.

  • Not be receiving service retirement benefits.
  • Have the most service credit with STRS Ohio (versus OPERS or SERS). If OPERS or SERS has the most service credit, contact the system with the most service credit for a disability application packet.

In lieu of receiving monthly disability benefits from STRS Ohio, members may terminate employment and withdraw their account (see the Account Withdrawal section for more information).

Click here to estimate your disability allowance benefit.

Read the Disability Allowance brochure for more information.

Disability Retirement

To qualify for disability retirement benefits, an STRS Ohio member who earned service credit before July 1, 2013, must:

  • Have at least 5.00 years of qualifying service credit* on account with STRS Ohio and submit a completed application packet within two years of the last date of earned service.
  • Not be receiving service retirement benefits.
  • Be younger than age 60 when the disability application is filed.
  • Stop teaching before reaching age 60.
  • Have the most service credit with STRS Ohio (versus OPERS or SERS). If OPERS or SERS has the most service credit, contact the system with the most service credit for a disability application packet.

In lieu of receiving monthly disability benefits from STRS Ohio, members may terminate employment and withdraw their account (see the Account Withdrawal section for more information).

Click here to estimate your disability retirement benefit

Read the Disability Retirement brochure for more information.

*Qualifying service credit includes earned credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; restoration of withdrawn credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; interrupted Ohio public service due to military service; and earned and restored credit that transfers from Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System or Cincinnati Retirement System.

Additional Benefits Available Under the Disability Programs

Survivor Benefits

Disability Allowance

Qualified survivors may be eligible to receive a monthly benefit or to withdraw the account balance. This withdrawal payment consists of the member’s contributions only; no additional amounts are payable.

Disability Retirement

Qualified survivors may be eligible to receive a monthly benefit or to withdraw the remaining account balance. If a remaining account balance is available, a withdrawal payment would consist of the member’s contributions less monthly benefits received; no additional amounts would be payable.

For more information regarding survivor benefits, please refer to the Survivor Benefits brochure.

Access to Health Care Coverage

A disability benefit recipient may choose to participate in the STRS Ohio Health Care Program* by paying a premium for this coverage. Health care coverage (medical, dental and vision) may begin the first month following Retirement Board approval of disability benefits or the benefit effective date, whichever is later.

A disability benefit recipient’s eligible dependents may also enroll in an STRS Ohio health care plan for additional premiums. Eligibility, coverage levels and the cost of the STRS Ohio Health Care Program are determined by the Retirement Board.

Premiums are automatically deducted from disability benefits and are deducted after taxes. If your monthly benefit payment is not large enough to cover the premiums, STRS Ohio will deduct as much as possible from your monthly benefit. The remaining balance must be paid by direct debit, which you are required to establish with your financial institution.

STRS Ohio offers a Health Care Assistance Program to help qualified benefit recipients who need financial assistance paying for their STRS Ohio health care plan. Eligibility is based on total family income and total liquid assets. Call toll-free 888‑227‑7877 for more information.

A disability recipient must have 15 or more years of service credit (or 20 years of service credit if granted disability benefits on or after Aug. 1, 2023) to have access to health care coverage if the recipient later applies for service retirement. Health care eligibility is based on the service credit used to calculate the service retirement benefit.

Medicare Enrollment

STRS Ohio requires all eligible health care plan participants to enroll in Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and pay a monthly premium to Medicare. You must also enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) if it is available at no cost from Medicare. Most people age 65 or older qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A based on their own or their current or former spouse's employment history. Even if you aren’t yet age 65, you may be eligible for Medicare coverage if you have a qualifying disability, end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Contact Medicare toll-free at 800‑633‑4227 or www.medicare.gov for eligibility determination. After you’ve enrolled in Medicare, you must submit your Medicare information through your Online Personal Account or send STRS Ohio a copy of your Medicare card. If you send a copy of your card, write your STRS Ohio account number on the copy you submit. Your Medicare status determines your health care plan eligibility, the cost of your health plan and the percentage you will be responsible for paying when your medical claims are processed.

*The STRS Ohio Health Care Program is not guaranteed. STRS may change or discontinue all or part of the program for all or a class of eligible benefit recipients and covered dependents at any time.

Dental and Vision Coverage

STRS Ohio offers dental and vision plans to disability benefit recipients who are eligible to enroll in the STRS Ohio Health Care Program. A disability benefit recipient’s eligible dependents may also enroll. Enrollment in an STRS Ohio health care plan is not a requirement to enroll in the dental plan or the vision plan. Separate monthly premiums apply to the dental and the vision plans. For more information, contact STRS Ohio toll-free 888‑227‑7877. You can view the current dental and vision plan information in the Health Care section.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

Ohio law gives the State Teachers Retirement Board the authority to grant a COLA to benefit recipients. New benefit recipients are eligible to receive a COLA beginning on the fifth anniversary of their retirement date. All cost-of-living increases granted on or after July, 1, 2017, are currently set at 0%. No later than the next actuarial experience review, anticipated to be completed in 2022, the Retirement Board will evaluate whether an upward adjustment to the cost-of-living increase is payable without materially impairing the fiscal integrity of the retirement system.

Death Benefit

An automatic $1,000 death benefit is payable to a disability benefit recipient’s designated beneficiary. This automatic benefit is considered a nontaxable life insurance payment; therefore, it is a tax-free benefit to the beneficiary.

A disability benefit recipient may purchase an additional $1,000 or $2,000 death benefit for a monthly premium. This optional death benefit is subject to a six-month waiting period and is taxable when it is paid. For more information about this benefit, read the Death Benefits brochure.