Bill Summary for S 599 (2019-2020)

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Summary date: 

Apr 9 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 599 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Intro. by Edwards, Wells, Horner.

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Bill summary

Part I.

Amends GS 135-105 to make short-term disability benefits the full responsibility of and paid for by the employer (under current law the employer is only responsible for benefits during the first 12 months of the short-term disability period, including benefits from a preliminary determination of eligibility for long-term disability). Prohibits a participant from receiving both short-term and long-term disability benefits for the same time period. Makes additional conforming changes. Makes conforming changes to GS 135-102. 

Amends GS 135-106 to require that the eligible beneficiary or participant apply to the Board of Trustees for long-term disability benefits within 180 days after the short-term disability benefit payment under GS 135-105 ceases. Adds that long-term disability commences the first day of the month following the date of approval of the application for benefits. Makes additional conforming changes.

Amends GS 135-5 by amending the deadline for converting a rejected application for long-term disability benefits to an early or service retirement application. Makes additional conforming changes.

Effective July 1, 2020, and applies to short- and long-term disability benefits applied for on or after that date.

Part II.

Amends GS 135-6 and GS 128-28 by changing the name of the Medical Board designated by the Board of Trustees Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System and by the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System, to the Medical Review Board (Board). Makes conforming changes to GS 135-1, GS 135-101, GS 128-21, GS 135-53, and GS 120-4.8.

Makes the following changes for both sets of boards. Amends Board composition by removing the cap on the number of members (consists of physicians not eligible to participate in the Retirement System). Deletes the provision allowing for the employment of other physicians to report on special cases. Consolidates the Board's duties into a new subsection and adds the following duties: (1) delegate the review of any medical exams or documents to other licensed health care providers; however, prohibits delegating any required certifications; (2) require independent medical exams, vocational assessments, gainful employment determinations, or other assessments necessary for the board to make any required determinations; allows contracting with outside entities to conduct any necessary assessments; and (3) expedite reviews and determinations in accordance with rules adopted by the State Treasurer and Board of Trustees.

Amends GS 135-102 concerning the administration of the Disability Income Plan of North Carolina by removing the provision related to designating a Medical Board. Instead provides that if directed by the  Board of Trustees of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System, then the Medical Review Board is to make the required investigation and report on applications for benefits. Adds that the Board of Trustees is allowed to appoint agents, contractors, and employees to investigate the results of medical exams, statements, and certifications by and on behalf of benefit applicants. 

Amends GS 135-110 to allow Disability Income Plan of North Carolina Trust Fund assets to be used for reasonable expenses to determine eligibility for benefits, as well as reasonable expenses to administer benefits provided by the Fund.

Amends GS 135-106 to allow the Board of Trustees, in addition to the Medical Review Board, to make specified certifications as well as determinations as to the restoration of long term disability benefits. No longer requires the Medical Board's advice in determining which cases are to be required by the Board of Trustees to undergo more frequent examination. Makes additional conforming changes. Allows a person who has been approved for long-term disability to make an irrevocable election before receiving the benefit payments to receive a return of accumulated contributions from the Retirement System or to forfeit all pending and accrued rights to the benefit and retire on an early service retirement allowance (removes the 90-day deadline for the election and adds in the option of receiving a return of accumulated contributions). Amends the effective date of the election. 

Makes conforming changes to GS 128-27 and GS 120-4.22.

Amends GS 135-59 to allow the Medical Review Board or Board of Trustees to make certifications as to mental or physical incapacitation for members of the Consolidated Judicial Retirement System. Provides that if a member is removed by the Supreme Court for mental or physical incapacity, a medical exam is required and the Board of Trustees or the Medical Review Board is to determine if the member is able to engage in gainful employment, which would reduce the disability retirement allowance. Makes additional clarifying and conforming changes. 

Makes conforming and clarifying changes to GS 135-60.

Part III.

Amends GS 135-107 to require a participant in the Optional Retirement Program who owes any overpayment to the Disability Income Plan at the time in which the beneficiary would first qualify for an unreduced retirement benefit had the beneficiary elected to be a member of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System, to make a full payment to the Disability Income Plan of the total amount due. That beneficiary is not eligible for coverage under the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees until payment in full of the total amount due is received by the Plan. Effective October 1, 2019, and applies to beneficiaries who are participants of the Optional Retirement Program and who would first qualify for unreduced retirement benefits had the beneficiaries elected to be a member of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System on or after that date.

Part IV. 

Makes clarifying and technical changes to GS 128-27 and GS 135-5. 

Amends GS 135-5 by making organizational and clarifying changes, deleting outdated language, and making technical changes.