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A state appeals court in California has ruled that a state law prohibiting disabled teachers over age 60 from collecting disability benefits violates federal prohibitions against age discrimination.

The case involves Naomi Smith, a teacher who was 64 when she was hit in the head by a kickball on a school playground in 1984. Her injuries prevented her from teaching for more than a year, and she had to retire after her sick leave ran out because California law limits disability benefits to people who become disabled under age 60.

Earlier this month, however, the Sixth District Court of Appeals in California said those age restrictions violate federal law because they amount to involuntary retirement.

In her lawsuit, Ms. Smith sought damages for lost salary and for the difference between retirement and disability benefits. Her lawyer said the teacher may also seek reinstatement to her job during settlement negotiations.

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