Do Teachers Get Favorable Treatment in Maryland State Disability Retirement Cases?
We represent a lot of teachers in Social Security disability hearings, applications/appeals, long-term disability appeals/applications, and most of all Maryland State Disability Retirement applications and appeals. Teachers become unable to work pretty frequently because teaching is one of the more physically demanding jobs that people do not know is physically demanding. Some teachers have to be able to restrain their students, who can be quite large, if they work with a special-needs population. Most teachers have to carry equipment to and from the parking lot and to and from the classroom. Also, teachers are expected to stand and walk around the classroom in order to facilitate learning and supervision. All of these physical tasks can wear on someone’s body, not to mention the stress of the job wearing on someone’s mind. Also teachers are often injured on the job!
At least four teachers have called me in the past week inquiring about what kind of benefits disability that they might be entitled to. Most of them already know about Maryland State Disability Retirement, which is a disability pension that teachers in Maryland fall under. Although they work for the county or city Board of Education, they fall under the State of Maryland Retirement and Pension System. It’s actually a really great benefit if you get approved.
Harsh Obstacles Give Teacher the Run-Around While They Pursue Disability Benefits
The problem is, and why most of these teachers call us, is because the state of Maryland is notorious for its “penny-pinching” ways. The State hates granting benefits to teachers despite the fact that teachers have given their blood sweat and tears (not to mention financial contributions to the pension). The Maryland State Pension and Retirement System (MSRP) loves to deny ordinary disability benefits and especially accidental disability benefits through the medical board at the Board of Trustees. Some teachers are out there with permanent disabilities from very obvious physical medical conditions. Others have very severe post traumatic stress from an assault that they witnessed or or a victim of. It breaks my heart to see how long they sometimes keep teaching before succumbing to the physical and/or emotional pain. Their sacrifices are humbling to most who observe, but the MSRP actually often uses that passion against the teachers. Their argument: “you were teaching while suffering from this condition, so that means you could have kept teaching if you wanted to. But you are lazy and/or greedy, so that’s why you chose to stop teaching, not because you are disabled.”
This cunning and evil argument has a very lucrative result: the Maryland state pension and retirement system had a $4.7 billion surplus in its most recent fiscal year, largely because they are ruthless in the treatment of their own members. We’ve represented many teachers where their initial application for ordinary disability retirement and/or accidental disability retirement was denied at the request for reconsideration level and had to request a hearing in front of the office of administrative hearings.
The hearings are generally 5 to 7 hours long because the Maryland attorney general’s office defends the case for the Maryland state pension and retirement system. The attorney general’s office does not believe that anyone deserves benefits unless the board of trustees via the medical board has given their blessing. They believe that the MSRP is infallible. Which is just as ridiculous as it sounds, however, the attorney general’s office hires defense-oriented medical experts to often lie on the stand about the very kind of teachers that taught their children. Often they pay these experts $500 an hour or more! No matter what new evidence comes to life, this doctor is going to stick to his or her guns. Also, the attorney general’s office is going to stick to their guns. This is incredibly unfair, and does not reflect the realities of life. The teachers are the ones that suffer, although it is a very frustrating for me also.
Social Security Disability Eligibility Doesn’t Help with Disability Retirement
Even in cases where my client has been clearly disabled from an accident and is clearly disabled from the accident, these automatons still press on. There are no settlement discussions. Even if Social Security has found someone disabled; the MSRP, attorney general’s office, and the testifying doctor do not care. The suffering that results is needless and avoidable. If you have a chance to talk to your elected representative in the state of Maryland, please bring to his or her attention the fact that teachers in Maryland are being treated like common thieves after they cannot teach anymore. It is a shameful way to treat the people that hold our children’s futures in their hands.
If you or a loved one is a teacher seeking disability benefits, give our firm a call today. We truly want to help!