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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

How Peace Officers Can Navigate Workers’ Compensation Claims and Apply for Disability Retirement Through CalPERS


Since 1956, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys at Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of California workers — including peace and safety officers seeking financial benefits from more than one government entity.

Peace officers in California who have been injured in the line of duty or are experiencing job-related disabilities may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and, in some cases, disability retirement through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

Here, we offer a general overview of how peace officers can navigate these processes.

Filing a Successful California Workers’ Compensation Claim

If a peace officer is injured in the line of duty, they must report the injury to their supervisor and employer as soon as possible. Prompt reporting is crucial for a workers’ compensation claim.

Next, the peace officer should:

  • Seek Medical Treatment

The injured officer should seek immediate medical attention, and the medical provider should be informed that the injury is work-related.

  • File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

To initiate a workers’ compensation claim, the officer or their employer must file a claim with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). While this process may seem straightforward, it is actually quite complex. This is why we are here.

The DWC will often request an independent medical evaluation to assess the officer’s condition and the extent of the disability.

Based on the evaluation and other relevant information, the DWC will determine the officer’s eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical treatment, temporary disability, permanent disability, and vocational rehabilitation.

Our skilled peace officer workers’ compensation claims attorneys in California can help strengthen your case by ensuring all the necessary documentation and records are included in the initial claim to minimize the potential for a denial.

Assess Your Eligibility for CalPERS Disability Retirement Benefits

CalPERS offers various disability retirement programs for public employees, including peace officers. To be eligible, the officer must be an active CalPERS member, have a disabling condition that prevents them from performing their duties, and have a minimum amount of service credit.

Like the workers’ compensation claim, the disabling condition must be evaluated by a medical professional to determine whether it qualifies for disability retirement.

The application should include medical documentation supporting the disability and its work-related nature and be equally as stringent as the workers’ compensation process. CalPERS offers different types of disability retirement benefits, including service-connected and industrial disability retirement, which vary in benefit amount and eligibility criteria.

Our California disability retirement attorneys can help ensure your claim is complete and that the proper benefits are being pursued to minimize the time your claim takes while maximizing the compensation you are entitled to for your service.

CalPERS will review the application, including the medical evidence, and determine whether to grant disability retirement benefits.

Officers should be aware that if they receive workers’ compensation benefits, they may need to offset their CalPERS disability retirement benefits by the amount of workers' compensation received.

It is crucial for peace officers in California who are navigating workers' compensation claims and CalPERS disability retirement to understand their rights and responsibilities, follow the necessary procedures, and ensure that they provide thorough medical documentation to support their claims. We can help, starting with a free consultation.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more. 

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