Disability & DRA


  • Apply for Disability
  • Medical Claims Processor Review – 60 Days
  • Disability Payments Begin – 30 to 60 Working Day  Waiting Period
  • Read Important Information

Apply for Disability

You should request an Application for Disability from the personnel or benefits office on your campus. Do not request the application from SURS. The application should be submitted to the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) after you and your employer have completed the sections of the application that apply to each of you respectively and your physician has completed his/her portion and attached the appropriate medical documents.

You should complete the application immediately if your disability is expected to last more than 60 days. If you are unsure of whether your disability will last 60 days or longer, you should still complete and submit an application. Your application must be on file with SURS within one calendar year after the date on which your disability occurred.

Medical Claims Processor Review

Once a completed application is received at the SURS office, the Medical Claims Processor reviews the application and medical documentation to make a determination of your eligibility for benefits.  After a decision has been made, the Medical Claims Processor will notify you in writing of the decision.

You could be asked by the SURS Medical Claims Processor to have an additional examination done by another physician. If this occurs, SURS will be responsible for the cost of this exam. You will not be asked to pay for this exam. If medically approved, your claim is then sent to the Disability Process Team where it will be reviewed and processed. Please respond immediately to any additional requests sent by SURS. The claim will be finalized upon receipt and correctness of all necessary information from you, your employer, and physician/s.

Disability Payments Begin

Disability payments are paid on the last working day of the month for the current month. For example, benefits due for January are paid on January 31.

There is a 60-day waiting period before you are eligible to receive your SURS disability benefit. If at the end of your 60-day waiting period, you have been paid all of your accumulated sick leave and you are still disabled, your benefit will begin to accrue on the 61st day of your disability.

For Example:

Last Day Worked:  May 31
60-Day Waiting Period:  June 1 – July 30
Date Benefits Begin:  August 16

Read Important Information

You will receive either 50% of the monthly salary you were receiving at the time you became disabled or 50% of your average earnings for the 24 months prior to the date you became disabled, whichever is greater.

The laws governing your retirement system do not allow any payment of benefits for the first 60 days. Therefore, your payment will not be retroactive to your last day of work.

You will continue to earn service credit for retirement and will be protected for survivor insurance benefits while receiving disability benefits from SURS.

SURS will periodically require that you submit additional medical documentation to verify your continued eligibility for disability payments.

If you have questions while your application is being processed, contact SURS:

Phone: (800) 275-7877 or (217) 378-8800
Fax: (217) 378-9800
Website:  www.surs.org

Insurance Information

State of Illinois Insurance:  The following information is for employees of a state university or an agency of the State of Illinois who have coverage under the State of Illinois Group Insurance plan.

Click here to view a list of SURS employers

*For the first three months of your disability leave, MyBenefits Service Center will bill you directly for your premiums at the same rate you paid as an active employee.  In the fourth month, SURS will contact CMS to see if there are any discrepancies on your account (under or overpayments).  If there are no discrepancies, SURS will begin deducting your insurance premium from your monthly disability check.  You will no longer be billed by CMS.  

Note:  If you are required to report your earnings to SURS on a monthly basis, SURS will not deduct the insurance premium from your disability check.  You will continue to be billed by CMS.

*If you return to work, you must notify SURS immediately by calling toll free at 800-275-7877 or dial direct at 217-378-8800, so we may transfer your insurance record back to your employer.  Your employer will deduct the insurance premiums from your paycheck.

College Insurance Program (CIP):  Disability benefit recipients are not eligible for CIP.

Other Information


  • At least 2.0 years of service unless the disability is due to an accident*
  • Off work more than 60 days
  • Exhaust all sick leave

*Service with the State Teachers’ Retirement System (STRS) or State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) may be used toward the 2-year requirement.


Disability benefits begin to accrue at the latest of:

  • 61st day after the occurrence date of the disability
  • Once all sick leave is exhausted
  • 30 days prior to the receipt of the disability application


Disability benefits are the higher of:

  • 50% of the basic compensation at the occurrence date*
  • Average of 24 months earnings prior to the month the disability occurred*

*Subject to the Maximum Pensionable Earnings Limit for Tier II members

Automatic Annual Increase (AAI)

3%, compounded annually. The first year will be prorated.


Disability benefits may be reduced for the following:

  • Excess earnings for work performed
  • Disability income payments under a policy paid for in whole or in part by your employer
  • Worker’s Compensation or occupational disease payments for an on-the-job accident or occupational illness

Earnings Limitation

While you are disabled, your physician may allow you to return to work part time. Your disability benefit payment will be reduced by the amount you earn in excess of the amount of your disability benefit. That ensures that your combined earnings and disability benefit do not exceed your earnings prior to disability.


Disability benefits continue until the earlier of the following:

  • You no longer meet the definition of disabled
  • You refuse to submit to reasonable physical examinations
  • You do not respond to medical recheck requests
  • You refuse to accept a position offered by your employer, even though your disability would not preclude you from performing the duties of that position
  • You have received 50% of your total accumulated earnings while a participant of SURS, TRS, or SERS
  • September 1st of the year following your 70th birthday However, if your benefit begins after age 65, you may receive a benefit for up to five years, assuming you continue to be disabled and have not reached the maximum earnings amount
  • You apply for a retirement or refund, or you die


Options Available After Your Disability Benefit Stops

If you are still disabled when your benefit stops, you have four options:

  1. Apply for a Disability Retirement Allowance if your disability benefit was terminated due to the 50% earnings limitation, and you are permanently disabled and unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity.  An Application for Disability Retirement Allowance will be sent to you approximately three or four months before your disability benefit is due to end.
  2. Apply for a Retirement Annuity to begin at any time after you satisfy the service and age requirements for retirement.
  3. Resign your position and apply for a refund of your contributions and interest
  4. Leave your contributions on deposit; the money continues to earn interest and can be withdrawn later or be paid to your beneficiary when you die.  Ultimately, it must be paid by  April 1st following the year you reach age 70 ½

An Application for Disability Retirement Allowance will be sent to you approximately  three to four months before your disability benefit is due to end.  If you believe you will be eligible, complete the application and return it to SURS immediately.