| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Can You Lose Federal Retirement Benefits for Disciplinary Actions?

Federal employees enjoy many competitive benefits with the government, including a generous retirement package. However, if you are a federal government employee facing possible disciplinary actions, then you may be understandably concerned about your federal retirement benefits. How do disciplinary actions affect your retirement benefits? The good news is that most disciplinary actions do not affect your federal retirement. However, there are a few exceptions. The ultimate answer depends on your specific situation and whether you have committed one or more specific federal crimes. That said, if you or a loved one are facing disciplinary actions, then there are other things at stake besides your retirement benefits. Take action immediately. Consult one of our dedicated federal employment attorneys at the Federal Employment Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Understanding the Basics of Federal Retirement Benefits Virtually all federal employees are eligible to receive retirement benefits under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). The FERS retirement package consists of three components. The first part is the Thrift Savings Plan, which is essentially a 401k program that the government administers. You can choose to contribute a portion of each paycheck to your TSP account, and your agency will make a matching contribution. Once you reach a certain age, you can draw on your TSP funds. The second retirement component is the FERS Basic Benefits Plan, a defined benefits plan that takes a part of your pay to guarantee you a monthly retirement pension. Social Security benefits make up the third and final portion of the plan. Your final retirement benefits depend on several factors, including your average pay, years of service, and whether you have a disability.  Can My Retirement Benefits Be Interrupted for Disciplinary Action? If you are terminated from a federal job, you are eligible to receive a lump-sum payment for your unused annual leave. Additionally, you may qualify for unemployment benefits in your home state. It’s important to note that most federal employees also have the right to appeal their termination. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is a federal agency that allows employees to appeal disciplinary actions that they have received from their employer. The Board also occasionally resolves key questions regarding federal employment law, including issues revolving around federal retirement benefits and disciplinary actions. In Morrison v. Department of the Navy, the Board made clear that federal retirement benefits are “available upon separation from federal service, even when the separation is agency initiated.” Consequently, if you are facing removal from federal service for alleged misconduct, you do not need to resign to “save” your retirement benefits.  How Can Federal Employees Lose Their Retirement Benefits? It is very difficult for federal employees to lose their retirement benefits. 5 U.S.C. § 8312 states that you need to be convicted of committing one or more specific crimes for this to happen. Specifically, there are only about 20 crimes that can cause you to lose your federal retirement benefits, including: As you can see, all of these crimes are very serious and rarely occur. So as long as you do not receive a conviction for any of these crimes, your retirement benefits will be safe.  What About Federal Employees Outside the Federal Employee Retirement System? FERS covers all employees who began work with the Federal government after 1987. However, Federal employees who began their service before 1987 receive retirement benefits under a different plan, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Although CSRS offers different retirement benefits to eligible federal employees, you cannot lose those benefits because of disciplinary action except for the reasons stated above. Want to Learn More About How to Protect Your Federal Career? It’s reassuring to know that your federal retirement benefits are safe when you are facing disciplinary action. However, disciplinary actions are still very serious. They can leave a black mark on your career and reputation, lower your income, and jeopardize your job prospects. That said, if your employee is proposing disciplinary action against you, you need to consult a federal employment attorney right away.  Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, we take pride in protecting federal employees. We care deeply about the outstanding men and women who serve the government every day. That means we’re committed to helping them defend their livelihoods and careers. If you are facing disciplinary action, we can work with you to build your case and protect your rights. We can also aggressively negotiate with your employer and take action against them for retaliating or discriminating against you.  Even if you’re not sure you have a case, come see us right away. Don’t wait. Call 833-833-3529. You can also send us a message online. 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

What Is a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for Federal Employees?

Federal retirement is one of the most important benefits of being a federal employee. Yet sometimes, understanding the technicalities around retirement can be tough. Today, we’ll talk about the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). We’ll begin with a basic rundown of the TSP itself. We’ll then examine its role in providing you with a safe retirement and how you can maximize the benefits. If you have any more questions, contact one of the attorneys at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, PLLC.  What Is the TSP? At its core, the TSP is a retirement savings and investment plan with tax advantages. It was designed specifically for federal employees and members of the Armed Forces. It mirrors the structure and benefits of private sector 401K plans, and it offers both traditional and Roth options for contributions. The traditional option allows you to make pre-tax contributions. On the other hand, the Roth option taxes you upfront for your contributions but allows for tax-free growth and withdrawals.  As a participant, you can invest your contribution across a variety of funds, including those listed below. You can spread your investments throughout these funds or center all of your available assets in one fund. There are also Lifecycle funds with varying levels of risk that shift according to your estimated retirement year.  TSP’s Role in Your Retirement The TSP is a cornerstone of federal retirement planning, but it doesn’t work alone. Rather, it works in concert with the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity and Social Security benefits to create a comprehensive retirement income. It fills the gap between what FERS and Social Security provide and the actual income needed to maintain your standard of living in retirement. In addition, it offers the low administrative costs and diverse investment options we previously mentioned. Together, the TSP, FERs annuity, and Social Security benefits all but guarantee a high quality of living for federal employees in their retirement years. Tips for Maximizing Your TSP Because it plays a key role in your financial security, you must take every step possible to maximize your TSP. Here are several key tips that will help you accomplish that goal: Finally, maximize catch-up contributions once you hit 50. There is a cap on how much federal employees can contribute to their TSPs. However, catch-up contributions allow older federal employees to contribute extra, helping them prepare for retirement.  Have More Questions About the Federal Thrift Savings Plan? We Can Help.  Understanding all aspects of federal retirement, including the Thrift Savings Plan, is essential for any federal employee looking to secure a financially stable future. We hope this article has answered your most pressing questions about the TSP and how it fits in your retirement future. The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, PLLC is here to assist you in charting your course toward retirement. We’ll apply our extensive legal experience to help you make the most of your retirement package. Whether you’re new to federal service or nearing retirement, we invite you to reach out. Let’s ensure your TSP is working as hard for you as you have worked for the federal government. Contact us today.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) for Federal Employees

The vast majority of federal employees look forward to enjoying the federal government’s generous retirement package. Yet there is no well-defined minimum retirement age for federal employees because there are several different kinds of early retirement. Thus, the minimum retirement age for federal employees hinges on the type of retirement. These forms of retirement depend, in turn, on things like the employee’s health status and years of federal service. The upside of this arrangement is that federal employees have significant flexibility when considering retirement options. However, there are downsides that you should consider as well.  We’ll unpack the various minimum retirement ages for federal employees in this article. We’ll also delve into what you can do to help minimize any negative consequences of early retirement. However, if you have more specific questions or want legal advice for your personal situation, give our firm a call today. What Is the Minimum Retirement Age for Federal Employees? The general minimum retirement age depends on which kind of federal retirement system you are serving under.  Minimum Retirement Age in the Civil Service Retirement System  If you are an older employee who joined the federal service before 1987, you may be under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Employees under CSRS can technically retire at any time. However, the earliest you can retire under CSRS without reducing your retirement benefits is 55. This low age is achievable only if you have 30 years of service. CSRS employees with more than 20 years of service of a minimum retirement age of 60. CSRS employees with fewer years of service have a minimum retirement age of 62. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. We’ll explore those in a moment. Calculating Minimum Retirement Age Under the Federal Employee Retirement System If you began your federal career in or after 1987, you are under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Calculating the retirement age depends on your year of birth. If you were born before 1948, then you can retire at 55. If you were born in 1970 or later, you can enjoy minimum retirement at 57. And if you were born between 1948 and 1970, your minimum retirement age will be between 55 and 2 months and 56 and 10 months. However, there’s an additional fact that bears mentioning. Under FERS, you may not receive your complete retirement annuity even after you reach your minimum retirement age. For instance, if you have fewer than 30 years of federal service when you reach your retirement age, the government will reduce your retirement benefits by 5% for every year that you are under 62. That means if you retire at age 60 with 28 years of federal, you will receive only 90% of your retirement annuity from the government. Similarly, if you retire at age 55, you can expect to receive just 65% of your retirement benefits.  Year of Birth Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) Before 1948 55 1948 55 and 2 months 1949 55 and 4 months 1950 55 and 6 months 1951 55 and 8 months 1952 55 and 10 months 1952-1964 56 1965 56 and 2 months 1966 56 and 4 months 1967 56 and 6 months 1968 56 and 8 months 1969 56 and 10 months Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) 57 According to the U.S. CBP, Here is a chart for Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) Exploring Alternative Retirement Plans Under both FERS and CSRS, employees can use several pathways to retire before the minimum retirement age. Specifically, federal employees can retire early through one of three situations: If you want to learn more about these options, it’s best to contact a federal employment attorney. Is There a Mandatory Retirement Age for Federal Employees? Generally, no. Mandatory retirement ages exist only for federal law enforcement officers and firefighters. Regardless of whether they are under FERS or CSRS, both law enforcement officers and firefighters have to retire at age 57, assuming they have 20 years of service. That said, an agency head can choose to allow a law enforcement officer to serve until 60 if the agency head finds that the employee’s service benefits the public interest.  Ready to learn more about achieving early retirement? Reach out to us today and let’s explore your questions together! It can be overwhelming to figure out your best options for retirement. And your agency’s human resources department may not have the answers you need. If you want accurate legal answers rather than vague responses and bureaucratic red tape, contact an experienced federal employment attorney. With the right legal counsel, you can get a clear picture of your retirement options and prepare your next steps. Our team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing is 100% committed to serving federal employees and making their lives easier. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our clients to reach their retirement goals and enjoy life after the federal government.  We recognize many people think you need large amounts of cash on hand to even speak to an attorney. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We care about you and your story, set up your consultation today by calling us at 1-866-612-5956. You can also contact us online. 

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) vs. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

One of the greatest benefits of government work is generous retirement. The federal service includes two systems, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System. Because of the complexity of both systems, employees often have questions about the provisions of each one. We also commonly get asked, CSRS vs. FERS: Which is better? So to help address questions about these programs, we’ll cover the essential characteristics of both systems.  What’s the Relationship Between CSRS and FERS? Congress established the Civil Service Retirement System in 1920 with the passage of the Federal Employees’ Retirement Act. At the time, the government was looking for ways to attract and retain skilled workers, and retirement benefits were seen as an important part of that effort. Originally, federal employees had to contribute to their own retirement accounts, but the government also contributed to those accounts. On top of that, all CSRS retirement benefits used a unique formula that took into account an employee’s length of service and highest average salary. Over the years, the CSRS underwent a number of changes, including the addition of survivor benefits and disability benefits. However, by the 1980s, the system was facing a number of financial challenges. Many of the retirement benefits promised under the system had become unsustainable, and there were concerns about the long-term viability of the program. In response to these challenges, Congress passed the Federal Employees Retirement System Act of 1986, which established the FERS. Congress intended FERS to be more cost-effective and sustainable over the long term. FERS did not go into effect immediately. Instead, it only began to come into effect after 1984. Between the years of 1984 and 1987, employees could choose which retirement plan to join. All federal employees entering federal service after 1986 had to use FERS. Despite the creation of the FERS system, the CSRS continues to be a significant part of the federal retirement landscape. Many federal employees who were hired before 1984 still receive coverage under CSRS, so the system remains an important source of retirement benefits for millions of Americans. How Do the Federal CSRS vs. FERS Compare in Retirement Benefits? When comparing CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) and FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System), it’s essential to note that CSRS offers the same retirement annuity for all retirees who retire at 55 or later, while FERS reduces retirement annuity for those retiring before the age of 62. Additionally, under CSRS, disability retirement amounts to 40% of the employee’s ‘high-three‘ salary. The retirement annuity is calculated by multiplying the high-three average by a percentage factor, which changes depending on the employee’s length of service. The percentage factor is 1.5% for the first five years of service, 1.75% for the next five years, and 2.0% for each year of service after 10 years. Under FERS, retirement pay is composed of three parts: a basic benefit, a Social Security benefit, and a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) benefit. The basic benefit implements a similar formula to the CSRS’s “high-three” system. However, the percentage factor is lower, usually around 1%. The Social Security benefit is based on the employee’s earnings history and the age at which they begin receiving benefits. Finally, there is the TSP, which functions like a 401k or another investment plan. Both the employee and the government contribute to the TSP over time. Meanwhile, the employee can invest their TSP funds in one of several investment opportunities. When the employee retires, they can enjoy those contributions and any returns on those investments.  CSRS vs. FERS: Additional Differences and Similarities In several ways, the CSRS was a more generous retirement system than FERS. For instance, under CSRS, all retirees received cost-of-living adjustments, even if they retired young. FERS retirees usually receive a cost-of-living adjustment only if they retire at 62 or later.   However, there are some similarities. Both CSRS and FERS offer benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and survivor benefits. However, FERS benefits are often less generous than CSRS retirement benefits. For instance, CSRS allows all retirees to receive the same retirement annuity as long as they retire at 55 or later. On the other hand, FERS reduces your retirement annuity for anyone retiring below the age of 62. Disability retirement under CSRS is 40% of the employee’s “high-three” salary. Under FERS, the disability retirement is 1.0% or 1.1% of your high-three salary for each year of federal service you have. Thus, an employee would receive less in disability retirement benefits under FERS unless they have over 40 years of federal service.  Still Curious About CSRS vs. FERS? We Can Help You with Any Federal Employment Need While you might have a general idea of federal employment retirement plans based on this article, it’s understandable if you have additional questions. To get accurate answers, it’s best to seek out a knowledgeable employment lawyer sooner rather than later. An adept federal employment attorney can explain which retirement system you are under and how that affects your financial future. If your agency has made some kind of mistake, an attorney can intervene on your behalf and help you file a claim. However, it’s crucial to find the right attorney to ensure the best chances of success. For experienced and reliable legal representation, look no further than the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Our team of legal professionals is experienced in all types of federal employment matters, including FERS and CSRS issues. We are committed to safeguarding your rights as a federal employee and ensuring you are rightfully compensated for your federal service. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at 866-612-5956. You can also schedule an appointment with us online and read about our previous successes.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Federal Employee Retirement Survivor Benefits Explained

It is well known that federal employment offers many valuable benefits. Chief among these benefits is the generous federal retirement package. The retirement program in the federal government is the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which Congress created in 1986. In addition to retirement benefits, FERS features survivor death benefits in some cases. Specifically, FERS survivor benefits grant a certain percentage of a deceased federal employee’s annual benefit amount to a current or former spouse. This article will discuss the key details of federal retirement survivor benefits, but it is always a good idea to reach out to a qualified federal employment attorney for additional information.  How Many Types of FERS Survivor Benefits Are Available?  The recipient of a deceased federal employee can receive three kinds of benefits. The first type is the current spouse survivor annuity. As the name implies, this benefit is payable only to the person who was the current spouse of the federal employee at the time of the employee’s death. The second kind of benefit is an annuity for former spouses. The former spouse annuity can arise when the deceased employee voluntarily chose to establish it before their death. Alternatively, courts can also award annuities to former spouses through a divorce decree, provided it was granted after May 7, 1985. The third and final type of benefit is a one-time lump sum benefit. These three FERS survivor benefits are available only if the employee died while employed with the federal government.  How Much Can a Current or Former Spouse Receive in FERS Survivor Benefits? If you are a beneficiary of a deceased employee who retired under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for survivor benefits, which amount to 50 percent of the employee’s unreduced annual benefit. The federal employee’s annual benefit will depend on the deceased employee’s time in government service, age, and pay level. The federal employee has a large role in deciding how much their survivor benefits are, even to the point of deciding the spouse receives no survivor benefit. They can also elect for the spouse to have a partially reduced annuity or a fully reduced annuity.  How Long Do FERS Survivor Benefits Last? Surviving spouse annuities (whether to former or current spouses) continue for the life of the spouse unless the spouse remarries before they reach age 55. There is an exception to this rule, however, if the spouse and employee were married for over 30 years. In that case, the spouse of the deceased employee will receive annuity payments regardless of whether they remarry or not.  Curious to Learn More About FERS Survivor Benefits? It is very difficult it is to lose a spouse. We understand that sorting out financial matters is probably the last thing you want to deal with when your spouse passes away. On top of that, the world of federal retirement survivor benefits is often difficult to navigate on your own. If your deceased spouse was a federal employee, we can help ensure that you obtain the benefits that they intended you to have.  Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we are dedicated to assisting with all kinds of federal employment matters. We care about all of our clients, and we are passionate about ensuring that they obtain the compensation they deserve. We have many years of experience successfully helping our clients—as our client reviews show. Together, we can work with you to help maximize your FERS survivor benefits.  Many people wrongly believe that hiring an attorney will cost them a small fortune. However, we don’t want money problems to prevent people from reaching out and consulting us. Don’t lose out on obtaining the federal retirement benefits you rightfully deserve. Contact us today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Retirement

What to Know About Federal Medical Retirement

If you’re a federal government worker with a medical condition, you may be able to take advantage of the federal government’s medical retirement. Civil service medical retirement is possible if you are a civil servant with a disabling medical condition. However, your agency first needs to determine that it cannot accommodate or reassign you. If you are in the army national guard or the reserves, you will have to follow a different medical retirement process.  OPM’s Medical Retirement Definition and Eligibility Requirements According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), medical retirement (or disability retirement) is available for employees with disabling medical conditions who cannot work effectively for their agency. Federal medical retirement eligibility encompasses situations where employees are specifically entitled to avail of benefits from the federal government: An employee must also apply for Social Security disability benefits before applying for federal government medical retirement. Finally, they must apply for disability retirement within one year of separation.  Need Help with Planning Your Federal Medical Retirement? Medical retirement in the government is complicated. That’s true whether you follow OPM’s medical retirement process as a civil servant or the IDES process. On top of that, the federal government often makes mistakes. Even the smallest mistake regarding your medical condition could turn your medical disability retirement plans upside down.  For those reasons, if you are considering applying for medical retirement, your best choice is to contact a knowledgeable federal employment attorney.  At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC, we handle all kinds of federal employment cases. Over the years, our firm has helped many federal employees with medical retirement issues. We aim to help you access your rights as a federal employee. Contact us right away.

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | Federal Retirement

How Do I Calculate FERS Retirement With a Calculator?

Figuring out how to calculate FERS retirement can require some work. But luckily, we can help with calculating this for you. A FERS disability retirement calculator is exactly what it sounds like. It is a tool you can use to calculate the amount of payment you will receive if you retire due to a disability. Of course, this calculator tool is applicable only if you are a federal employee retiring through the FERS disability retirement program.  For immediate assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact or call (833) 833-3529 to reach our experienced FERS disability lawyers. How is FERS Calculated? A FERS disability retirement pay calculator works just as any other calculator does. You give the calculator a set of inputs and parameters, and the calculator gives you an answer. The output could be your annual payment (referred to as an annuity). Or it could be your monthly or weekly payment. On the other hand, your output could be the total amount of money you will receive over X amount of time (36 months, 20 years, etc). It all depends on what you ask the calculator to give as its output. It is up to you.  Many of the FERS retirement calculations depend on your high-3 salary. OPM defines your high-3 as the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service. Your basic pay is your basic salary paid for your position. This includes salary increases for which FERS retirement deductions are withheld, such as shift rates. It does not include payments for overtime, bonuses, etc. Further, if one’s total service was less than 3 years, the average salary is figured by averaging basic pay during all periods of creditable Federal service. The best way to find your high-3 average salary is to get a FERS benefit to estimate from your Agency. This report will show the official figures that will be sent to OPM.  While the OPM website does not have a specific calculator tool, they publish information on how they make the calculations online. Here, we summarize those guidelines. FERS Disability Computation If You Have Reached the Age of Retirement If you are age 62 or older when you retire due to a disability, the following FERS calculation applies. The calculation also applies if you meet the age and service requirement for immediate voluntary retirement and suffer from a disability. This calculation is known as an “earned” annuity since you have otherwise met the qualifications for retirement benefits. ‘ The calculation goes one of two ways. If you are 62 or older when you retire and have less than 20 years of service with the federal government, or are under 62 years old but qualify for immediate voluntary retirement, your annuity calculation will be 1% of your high-3 average salary for each year of service. Thus, if you serve eighteen years, your annuity is 18% of your high-3 average salary. Your high-3 average salary is the highest average basic pay (minus overtime) you receive for three consecutive years during your employment. If your salary tops out at $65,000 for three years, that’s your high-3 salary. If your annual salary was $55,000 three years before your disability, then $65,000 per year for only two years before the disability, your high-3 average salary is the average of $55,000, $65,000, and $65,000. If you are 62 years old or more and have at least 20 years of service to the federal government, your annuity calculation is different. Your annuity calculation is 1.1% of your high-3 average salary for each year of service. So if you have 20 years of service at this point, your annuity is 22% of your high-3 average salary. Because the calculations for disability retirement for someone 62 years old or older are the same as regular voluntary retirement, it generally does not make sense to apply for FERS disability if you are at least 62 years old.  FERS Disability Computation If You Have Not Reached the Age of Retirement For these calculations, the assumption is that you are under the age of 62 at the time of retirement and not eligible for voluntary retirement at that time. There are 3 tiers given: For the first 12 months, your annuity calculation will be as follows: Your base annuity is 60% of your high-3 salary. If you receive social security, the total amount of your social security payment is subtracted from your FERS annuity as a 100% offset. If your “earned” FERS annuity is greater than this amount, your earned annuity will be your annuity payment. After the first 12 months, before you reach age 62, your base annuity calculation will be reduced to 40% of your high-3 year salary. If you receive social security, 60% of that amount will be drawn from your annuity. Just like the first 12 months, your “earned” annuity will be your annuity payment if that amount is greater than the base annuity (minus the social security offset). Once you reach age 62, FERS will recalculate your annuity from that point on. It will be the annuity you would have had if you were able to work until the day before you turn 62 and retire under FERS. In other words, the service computation reverts to the one we outlined above. What Are Disability Annuity Reductions? In some situations, your disability annuity can be reduced due to elections made during the application process. The main situation where this happens is when you are married and have a survivor benefit election. Unless your spouse consents to you electing a smaller than ‘full’ survivor annuity (which you establish at the beginning of your employment term), your annuity faces a reduction of either 5% or 10%. If you elect survivor benefits that are 50% of your benefit, a reduction of 10% occurs. On the other hand, if you elect survivor benefits of 25%, a 5% reduction occurs. Other reasons for a reduction in your annuity include when you choose to retain health benefits...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | FERS Disability

FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility

Individuals often remind government workers of the advantages of their positions. But if you were for the federal government, you may at times feel trapped and without rights. This is especially true for workers who have a disability. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) disability eligibility is complex. Many federal employees are not aware of this program’s existence. Others, while aware, may lack proper guidance and feel hindered from accessing the benefit they are entitled to, and left without options.  An experienced federal disability lawyer can help fight for your rights. Please don’t hesitate to call our firm at (833) 833-3529 or contact us online today for assistance. Understanding Federal Employees Retirement System Disability Benefits Defining FERS  FERS stands for Federal Employees Retirement System and is a retirement plan. Most new Federal civilian employees hired after 1983 are automatically covered by FERS, whereas prior to this point most employees were covered under CSRS. Federal civilian employees also have a TSP retirement, however, individuals must note that FERS and TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) are not the same. TSP is an optional retirement option, separate from your FERS pension. Understanding Federal Employees Retirement System Disability Eligibility  So, are you eligible for disability? The United States government’s Office of Personnel Management provides a pamphlet regarding FERS disability retirement. However, it can often leave the reader more confused than confident in their understanding. FERS disability retirement eligibility is very complex. It involves financial and legal information best analyzed by a lawyer for federal employees. The purpose of Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits is to provide income to federal workers who: Unfortunately, workers most entitled to FERS eligibility are often overwhelmed and face many obstacles due to their disabling condition. Tackling Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits may appear impossible. However, FERS disability retirement eligibility, when met, provides important rights. A Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits lawyer knows how to fight for this right. FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility Requirements As stated above, an initial hurdle to obtaining FERS disability benefits includes proving that a disability impacts you to the point where you can’t be expected to adequately perform your duties for at least one year. That is just the start. In addition the worker: Another critical item to note is that the worker must have applied for Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits while still employed or within one year after separation from the job. Financial Impact After Proving FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility If the government approves your Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits, the amount of your benefit will depend on intricate calculations. The amount of benefits is different for each individual. Calculating disability benefits currently includes an analysis of earnings at various points in the person’s career and an age review. An employee can get an accurate picture of available benefits by requesting a FERS benefits estimate from their agency. The Complexity of FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility The aforementioned is only a brief overview of examinations required regarding FERS eligibility and a successful application for FERS disability benefits. Here are some additional stipulations to note: The Injury  When determining disability, there are several medical considerations as well as exceptions. Common injuries that might support a claim for FERS disability benefits include: Psychological conditions can also support a claim for disability benefits, though they can sometimes be trickier to document than some physical injuries. Essentially any mental or physical disability that impairs your ability to work may qualify, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety.  Alternate Job Offer Any job offer the government makes to the disabled party should be at the same pay level the person is receiving or higher. It also must be within the same commuting area. Both of these requirements must be met to invoke the requirement that the party accepts the offer, assuming it would actually accommodate the disability.  SSDI  Anyone applying for FERS disability retirement eligibility must also apply for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance ). However, it is not required that SSA approve the SSDI application. Other Work Income If the government provides the worker with FERS disability benefits, they cannot keep their federal job, as they proved an inability to perform the job due to a disability. However, they may be able to work in a private-sector job. There are strict income requirements regarding this option. Importance of Legal Representation for Federal Employees Retirement System Disability Benefits  Disabilities can cause tremendous stress. When a disability impacts one’s ability to work, the stress understandably increases. In some cases, those same workers begin experiencing discrimination, resentment, or retaliation in the workplace.  Top-notch Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits attorneys will offer relief and protection. Individuals should never forget that they have the right to: A federal employer may fail to acknowledge one’s disability or inform them of the rules regarding FERS disability retirement eligibility. Other times, the employer may discourage the worker from pursuing benefits. Also, workers may feel overwhelmed with applying for Federal Employees Retirement System disability benefits. If you find yourself in this situation, you should speak with a lawyer clients trust who is knowledgeable in Federal Employees Retirement System Disability Benefits. Contact Our FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer at The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC Attorney Aaron Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law and received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Since that time, he has continued a path of excellence as the founding attorney for the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Aaron’s practice includes the evaluation and resolution of a diverse variety of federal employment matters. Aaron is an advocate who knows how to handle any federal employment case brought before him. Call (833) 833-3529 or fill out the online contact form to schedule your consultation.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Federal Retirement

What Is the FERS Disability Processing Time?

If you’re a federal employee and can’t work due to a medical condition, your employer has you covered. The federal government’s Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS) offers disability retirement benefits to employees in your situation.  But if you are claiming FERS benefits, you may wonder, What is the FERS disability retirement processing time? After getting the answer to the first question, you may then wonder, why does it take so long? Additionally, is there a way to speed up the process? If you are looking for answers to these questions, read on.  Our FERS disability attorneys will explain what you need to know. What Is the FERS Disability Retirement Processing Time? The turnaround time for a FERS disability retirement processing time for your application varies from case to case. Sometimes the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can do it in as little as three months. Other times it can take longer than a year. The average time, however, is six to nine months. Many factors affect the processing time.  Not getting a decision within a reasonable amount of time can be more than just frustrating. If you don’t have significant savings or dependents, losing your ability to work can put you in dire financial straits. While you can’t move to the front of the line, you can help ensure you don’t have to go to the back of the line again by properly submitting all of your paperwork in line with the OPM protocol. For a more in-depth discussion of the FERS disability retirement timeline and any related issues, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Aaron Wersing PLLC for help. Our firm focuses on federal employment law, so we know the ins and outs of FERS disability retirement. With our experience, we can help to ensure your application and related documents are properly filed and filled out. Our job is to help you, and we take that charge seriously. Why Does It Take So Long? Several things make this application process take a long time. These factors can also make the FERS disability retirement timeline difficult to predict in a given case. Perhaps the most important contributing factor is that the OPM, which makes these decisions, does so on a first-come-first-served basis. When you submit your application, it is impossible to know how many applications are in front of you. The number can vary widely. Also, the OPM is a sizable bureaucratic network. They are responsible for all federal employees (2.1 million in 2020). As such, the gears of the federal government can take a while to turn. This is unavoidable, but there are ways that may help expedite an application. What Else Might Make a Decision Take Longer? A very important factor in how long your decision will take depends on your status with the agency. If you have already been separated from federal service for more than 30 days when you submit your application, your application is processed quicker. This is because your application goes straight to OPM in Boyers, PA, where it gets processed and issued a civil service annuity (CSA) number. After getting a civil service annuity number, the application goes to OPM headquarters in Washington D.C., where a decision is made. Contrast this with the process that an application from someone who is still on agency roles as an employee, or within 30 days of separation. In such instances, an application will need to go through several offices before arriving at a decision. First, your application goes to the specific agency you work for, to process. Then, many agencies will send your application to their centralized HR facility for further processing. After this point, your application will be sent to Boyers, PA for a CSA number.  How Does OPM Determine FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility? The following seven factors help guide the OPM disability retirement approval rate and their decision-making process regarding your FERS disability retirement application. These requirements are cumulative. In other words, they all must be met. If the federal agency you work for can provide reasonable accommodations that will allow you to work with your present condition, they should do so. Similarly, if your federal agency cannot accommodate you in your position, it should reassign you to a different qualifying job vacancy at the agency, if such a position is available. This type of reassignment is known as the “accommodation of last resort”. If you can be accommodated or reassigned, you will not be eligible for FERS disability retirement benefits. Keep in mind that accommodation must actually accommodate your medical needs as long as it will not place an undue burden on your agency, and a reassignment must actually be to a position that you are able to perform with your medical condition and symptoms.  What Can I Do If I Don’t Get a Decision? If a decision takes too long, you may have a right to appeal. Failure to respond is essentially a constructive denial that you can appeal. An administrative law judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will hear your case and determine your eligibility. Follow the steps outlined below to help with the appeal process. The amount of time that is “too long” is not set in stone, so a lawyer can be very helpful in this instance. If your application is taking too long, the best thing you can do is be diligent in your follow-up. Once you submit your application, you should inquire as to your application status monthly. Document your inquiry: save emails; save any other correspondence; document phone calls, and record the name of anyone you are in contact with. If you don’t hear back from any OPM representatives, document that. Only after submitting multiple status update requests should you notify OPM that you are treating their silence as a denial. After you notify them, wait at least a month for a response before filing an official appeal. You may hear back in the intervening time that your application is nearly processed...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Federal Retirement and Your Service Computation Date—What to Know

Working for the federal government comes with many benefits. As a federal employee, you can enjoy regular working hours, ample health benefits, a generous retirement package, and some protections against being fired or laid off.  However, many of these retirement benefits depend on your service computation date (SCD).  For that reason, it’s essential to understand what a service computation date is and how to calculate your own service computation date.  Once you understand your service computation date, you can plan your retirement date and assess when you will be able to access certain employment perks.  If you have questions about your federal retirement and your service computation date, call (866) 340-4430 or contact us online today. Our federal employment lawyers are ready to help. What Is a Service Computation Date? A service computation date is a date used by the federal government to determine what benefits you should receive and when you should start receiving them. SCDs are applicable in both the current Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and its predecessor, the Civil Servant Retirement System (CSRS).  That said, there are several different SCDs. A more precise service computation date definition depends on the type of SCD. Below are the four different types of SCDs. Leave Service Computation Date  Your leave service computation date relates to your annual leave accrual. All federal employees gather annual leave at a rate of four hours per pay period during their first three years in service. After three years of service, federal employees accrue annual leave at six hours each pay period. After 15 years, the annual leave accrual rate increases again to eight hours per pay period.  You can locate your leave service computation date on Block 31 of every standard form 50 (also called “SF-50”) in your personnel file.   Retirement Service Computation Date  Your federal retirement service computation date indicates when you will be eligible for retirement. As with the leave SCD, it is usually the date that you began your first federal appointment.  However, the leave SCD and retirement SCD can vary if you served in the military prior to joining the federal service. Military veterans can choose to add their time in the military to their time in the federal service by “buying back” their military time and making that period of service count towards their SCD. To do this, veterans must submit a “deposit” equal to a small percentage of their military base pay when they were on active duty.  Thrift Savings Plan Service Computation Date  The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a savings and investment retirement account that constitutes one of the core pillars of FERS. The TSP allows the employee to contribute their own funds towards a retirement account. The government will then match the employee’s contributions up to a certain point. It’s almost like a 401K plan operated by the government.  5 CFR §1603 includes a vesting requirement for the funds contributed by the government. Under this requirement, the government’s contributions to an employee’s TSP only vest after the employee has three years of service.  The TSP SCD represents the date that a TSP participant begins to fulfill the three-year vesting period.  Unlike the retirement SCD and leave SCD, the TSP SCD does not include prior military service.  Reduction in Force Service Computation Date  Although rare, federal agencies occasionally lay off employees through a reduction in force (RIF). The agency determines who to lay off first according to seniority. The earlier your federal government RIF SCD, the lower the chance that your agency will lay you off.  Unlike the other SCDs, your RIF SCD can be adjusted by your performance ratings over the previous four-year period. Your appointment type can also affect your RIF SCD. How Can I Calculate My Service Computation Date?  Now that we’ve discussed the concept of the various service computation dates, you might be wondering, What is my service computation date? As you might be able to guess by now, the answer depends on which service computation date you are trying to calculate.  The leave SCD is easy to obtain because it is listed on your SF-50. However, the other SCDs are harder to calculate because they are affected by factors like prior military service and past performance.  For more information on your SCD, you should either contact your human resources office or a federal employment attorney.  Are You Considering Whether to Sue Your Federal Employer? Federal agencies are far from perfect. A mistake by your employer could easily affect your service computation date and your access to government employment benefits.  If you think that your federal employer has incorrectly calculated your SCD or is wrongly denying you benefits, contact the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC.  Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of federal employees with a wide variety of federal employment problems. We are committed to protecting the rights of federal employees. Don’t hesitate to contact us or call (833) 833-3529. 

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