Rehabilitative Services aids disability recipients

Commonwealth Medicine to become third-party administrator in October

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Sept. 14, 2021 – OPERS offers disability benefits to qualifying members when unexpected health issues and accidents happen.

Members of the OPERS Traditional and Combined plans may apply for disability benefits if they have at least five years of contributing service credit. Law enforcement members are immediately eligible for disability benefits for any on-duty illness or injury.

A key component of our disability plan is the OPERS Rehabilitative Services Program, which helps disability recipients return to wellness. Program participants partner with a clinical nurse case manager who works with participants to map out a plan for recovery. Participants also receive vocational assistance to help with their self-directed job search efforts

OPERS created the program in 2014 for state and local members, and since then, it’s proven to be of great value to those receiving a disability benefit.

We contract with an outside company to administer the program, and beginning Oct. 28, that company will be Commonwealth Medicine, the consulting and operations division of the UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester, Mass. It is known for its expertise in providing comprehensive rehabilitative services and case management.

Commonwealth Medicine has clinical nurse case managers with expertise in supporting disabled individuals by conducting clinical assessments, creating personalized case management plans, and providing ongoing coaching and support. All those services are provided over the telephone.

By actively participating in the Rehabilitative Services Program and complying with their case management and treatment plans, disability recipients can extend the leave of absence from their last public employer to five years, from three years. Also, their continued eligibility for a disability benefit is evaluated based on their last public employment position, not any position, for an additional two years while they remain active in the program.

For more information, refer to the disability page on the OPERS website, and check out our latest Disability Program leaflet.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

5 thoughts on “Rehabilitative Services aids disability recipients

  • September 14, 2021 at 9:23 am

    While I believe this is an extremely important and excellent program, is there a reason why it can’t be administered by an Ohio company instead of a company is Worcester, Mass? I think it’s always a good practice to keep our funds within our Great State of Ohio whenever possible.

    • September 14, 2021 at 10:06 am


      Thanks for the comment. OPERS conducted an open bidding process for this administration role, and no Ohio-based company applied. However, it’s worth noting that Commonwealth is employing an Ohio-based company, MRG Exams of Westlake, Ohio, to conduct independent medical examinations.

  • October 25, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Please I waited 1 hour and 55 minutes need to know how to get disability. Please get ahold of me.

    • October 27, 2021 at 11:54 am

      We offer a virtual hold option, so you can receive a call back once it is your turn to speak to a representative. Our call volume is lower in the mornings, so it is best to try and call in the morning. If you have an online account, you can send your questions through the online message center. Please contact OPERS at 1-800-222-7377 for further assistance.
      Thanks, MS


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