| Read Time: 5 minutes | Federal Retirement

5 Steps for Applying for Federal Disability Retirement

Federal employees who become disabled face significant stress. From handling pain and multiple doctor appointments to worrying about finances and an uncertain future, a federal employee can be overwhelmed. The last thing that a disabled federal employee should have to deal with is filing complex paperwork to apply for federal disability retirement benefits.  At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, our federal employee disability retirement lawyers take the worry out of applying for benefits. We help our disabled-federal-worker clients so that they can focus on their health and their families. Our hands-on approach keeps our clients informed throughout the entire process, from completing the initial paperwork to the appeal of benefit denial. We are experienced in all aspects of Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) disability retirement benefits so that federal employees don’t have to be. For assistance, please contact us online or call (833) 833-3529 today. Requirements For Applying For FERS Disability Retirement To be eligible for the FERS disability program, federal employees must have worked in a covered position for at least 18 months. In addition, an employee must have become disabled while employed and the disability must be expected to last for at least one year. Importantly, however, a work-related injury or illness need not have caused the disability. Federal employees can apply for disability retirement benefits at any age. What Disabilities Qualify for Federal Government Disability Retirement Benefits? To qualify for federal government disability retirement benefits, an employee must experience either a physical or mental disease or injury. The employee’s disability must prevent “useful and efficient service” in the employee’s current job with the federal government. Essentially, the federal employee must be unable to perform one or more essential job functions of their current position. If the employing federal agency can accommodate the worker’s medical condition, the employee may continue to work in his or her current position. In that case, the employee will not be eligible for federal disability retirement. Alternatively, if the employing agency can transfer the disabled employee to a different job, known as the accommodation of last resort, the employee will not be entitled to disability retirement benefits. The new job should be at the same grade or pay level and in the same commuting area. In short, the employee may apply for federal disability retirement only if the employing agency is unable to accommodate the employee’s disability. Five-Step FERS Disability Retirement Application Process There are five essential steps that a federal employee needs to follow to apply for FERS disability retirement. 1. Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits Why? Because when a federal employee applies for FERS disability retirement, the employee must indicate whether he or she has applied for Social Security disability benefits. Remember, you do not have to be approved for SSDI, but you must apply. The applicant also must attach a copy of the Social Security application receipt or award notice to the FERS disability retirement application. If a disabled employee receives Social Security disability payments, the amount of federal disability retirement payments under FERS will be reduced. Importantly, if the Social Security Administration denies disability benefits, federal employees still may be entitled to FERS disability retirement payments. 2. Complete Standard Form 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement Form 3107 is available from federal personnel offices or online here. Federal employees must file their application for federal government disability retirement benefits while still employed with the government or within one year of their separation date.  The Application for Immediate Retirement is several pages long and asks for detailed information, including: Form 3107 also includes the Certified Summary of Federal Service, SF 3107-1. The employing agency completes this certification form to provide a history of the employee’s federal jobs, earnings, and FERS coverage. You can apply for FERS disability retirement before the agency completes this form. After the agency completes that certification, the employee must review and sign it, attesting that it is accurate. The agency also should complete the Agency Checklist of Immediate Retirement Procedures, which is part of Form 3107. In addition, depending on your responses to certain questions, supplemental documentation may be required, such as a marriage certificate, W-4 form, or a DD-214, for example. For guidance on how to complete the application, disabled federal employees can review the instructions that accompany the Application for Immediate Retirement. They may also read an informational pamphlet SF 3113 titled Applying for Immediate Retirement Under the Federal Employees Retirement System. 3. Complete Standard Form 3112, Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement Application Disabled federal employees need to provide documents that support their FERS disability retirement application. Standard Form (SF) 3112 includes five main forms, some of which are completed by the applicant and others to be completed by their physicians or agency. In general, employees use these forms to document their medical condition to show that they are disabled and unable to perform their job duties.  The disabled employee must complete Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability. On that form, the applicant describes his or her disease or injury and how it affects current job duties. The applicant then lists the physicians and dates of treatment that can support his or her claim of disability.  Next, the federal employee must ask each doctor to complete Standard Form 3112C, Physician’s Statement. The employee should also provide each doctor with a current job description. With that job description, each doctor can state how the employee’s disease or injury affects the employee’s ability to work. In addition to completing the form, each doctor must enclose medical documentation of the patient’s medical condition on letterhead stationery. Doctors must provide copies of all medical reports detailing the patient’s symptoms and history, diagnostic tests, diagnosis, treatments, and therapies. The doctors also must indicate if and when the employee will recover. Finally, if the doctors place any restrictions on the employee’s activities, such as lifting or standing limits, the doctor must describe those restrictions.  Next, the employing federal agency must complete forms that...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | FERS Disability

Reasons Your FERS Application May Be Denied and Can You Reapply?

If the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) denies your Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) disability retirement application, you can reapply if there has been a material change in your circumstances. But getting a denial isn’t always the end of the road. You may have options to ask for reconsideration, or you can appeal a refusal of benefits. And the help of a good attorney can protect your rights during the application and appeal process. If you are looking for a good FERS disability attorney, you are on the right page. The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC exclusively handles employment law cases. We provide award-winning advocacy. Please contact us for help with your federal employment needs.  Why Was My Disability Retirement Application Denied? The FERS disability retirement application process is detailed and complex. There are also several rules regarding who can and cannot receive disability retirement benefits. The OPM might have denied your retirement disability benefits because it believed you were not eligible or because you did not submit an adequate application. 1. Denial Because of Ineligibility Can you be denied retirement benefits? The answer is yes. The OPM can deny your FERS disability retirement benefits if one of the following circumstances applies to you: The OPM might also deny or dismiss your application if you don’t adequately explain how you meet each eligibility requirement. Our skilled and knowledgeable federal employment lawyers can ensure that your application clearly reflects your right to receive benefits. 2. Denial Because Your Application Was Late Your disability application must be timely. You must file your application while you are still federally employed or within one year of separating from your federal job. The application process requires a lot of documentation and statements from several individuals. As soon as you notice that your medical condition is affecting your ability to work, you should contact one of our experienced attorneys. We can help make sure you gather all the necessary information and meet the deadline for requesting benefits. 3. Denial Because of an Inadequate Application Your disability retirement application requires detailed information from you, your employer, and healthcare professionals who have treated you or have information about your condition. And all statements in your application should corroborate each other. If there is a lack of detail or there are discrepancies, the OPM may refuse to give you benefits. You can prevent discrepancies and a lack of detail by:  We can help you with all of this. Along with your disability retirement application, you must also apply for Social Security Disability (SSD)  benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). To prove that you applied for SSD benefits, you must give OPM a copy of your application receipt and a copy of the SSA’s notice of approval or disapproval of your SSD application. If you do not take these steps or provide proof of your application status, the OPM may dismiss your FERS disability retirement application.  What You Can Do After a Denial You have a handful of options to obtain a better result if the OPM denies your request for benefits. These options include the following. Reapplication Generally, you have only one chance to apply for disability retirement based on the same circumstances. However, you can reapply for disability retirement if there is a material change in your circumstances, such as a deterioration of your condition.   Requesting Reconsideration In many cases, the OPM gives applicants a written initial decision regarding their right to benefits. After the OPM makes the initial decision to deny your retirement application, you have 30 days to ask the OPM to reconsider its decision. After reconsidering your case, the OPM issues a written final reconsideration decision that includes its findings and conclusions and information about your right to appeal. Appealing the Denial You can appeal your denial to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) if the OPM does not grant you disability retirement benefits after a reconsideration. And if the initial decision you receive is an initial final decision, you must appeal directly to the MSPB. In general, you have only 30 days to file your appeal, and it must be in writing. Any attempt to seek benefits for retirement disability must include detailed documentation, a clear explanation of your circumstances, and timely filings. We can handle these tasks for you and maximize your chances of receiving your well-deserved benefits. Speak to Attorneys Who Can Turn a No Into a Yes Whether you are on the first, second, or third bite at the apple in your request for retirement benefits, the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC can champion your rights. We handle only federal employment cases, so our knowledge and experience are extensive. An award-winning attorney leads our firm, and we are passionate about protecting federal employees. You can contact us for help today by calling or reaching out on our website.  

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Disability

OPM Processing Time for Federal Disability Retirement Application

There are many unique benefits to working for the federal government, including retirement options. Yet, some tradeoffs come with these programs, including a sluggish pace that often plagues bureaucracies. Federal disability retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is among those unique benefits federal employees can get, but delays complicate the process. The average OPM processing time for all retirement applications is only one to two months. Yet, OPM federal disability retirement applications frequently take six months to a year. If you need help applying for federal disability retirement or dealing with OPM retirement processing delays, contact the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC. Our firm focuses on federal employment, so we know how to cut through the layers of federal bureaucracy. How Do You Apply for Federal Disability Retirement? If you believe you qualify for federal disability retirement, you can apply two ways. First, you can apply through your agency if you are still employed there. If you are no longer employed at the agency, you apply directly with OPM. You must apply within one year of separating from federal employment to receive benefits. Qualifying for Federal Disability Retirement To qualify for federal disability retirement, you must: Your agency must also certify that it cannot accommodate your disability. Although you need not reach a specific age before applying for FERS disability benefits, your age may affect your benefits. Until age 60, your benefits may end if: Additionally, OPM may require you to attend periodic medical exams to confirm you are still disabled. Applying for Federal Disability Retirement When you apply for FERS disability benefits, you must also apply for social security disability benefits. In addition, your federal disability retirement application must include Forms SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, and SF 3112, Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement. Form SF 3112 includes several parts to be filled out by different people, including:  Coordinating the pieces of SF 3112 can be challenging, especially if you no longer work for the agency. If you are running up on the one-year application deadline, you can submit Forms SF 3107 and 3112A and provide contact information for the individuals to complete the other portions of Form 3112.  How Can You Make the Process More Efficient? The most effective way to ensure your OPM disability retirement application is processed as quickly as possible is to follow the application instructions carefully. Once your application is out of your hands, you have little control over processing delays.  To the extent possible, review the information and documentation provided by others on Form SF 3112. Sometimes, you can identify mistakes or errors and have them corrected before the application reaches OPM.  Because getting OPM federal disability retirement depends on the effect of your disability, it is particularly essential to ensure your physician provides detailed information. Many agencies will instruct you on which doctor or doctors to see, and you may be unable to go to your primary care physician. It can be complicated to trust employer-recommended physicians in the same way as your primary care doctor, but ensuring the information the signing doctor provides supports your claim is crucial. Get Help Filing Your Disability Retirement Application  Requesting disability retirement on your own can lead to missteps that drag out the process. With the help of the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC, you can submit an application that is as complete as possible. We can guide you through what to include and how specific to be. We can also help you verify that the others involved in SF 3112 are providing the support you need for your application. Contact us today to learn more.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | FERS Disability

OPM Federal Disability Retirement vs. Social Security Disability

Whether it came on suddenly or built up over time, having a disability brings many changes, especially if it means you can no longer make a living. Current and former federal employees may qualify for disability benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Social Security. As a result, this leaves many disabled federal employees wondering which disability coverage to apply for. Depending on how severe your disability is and your work history, you may qualify for one, the other, both, or neither.  Navigating the federal bureaucracy to determine what to apply for is challenging for even the savviest federal employees. The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC is here to help if you have questions about federal employees and social security benefits. We focus exclusively on federal employment issues and can guide you through applying for the benefits you need.  What Is Federal Disability Retirement? Federal employees covered by FERS may qualify for federal disability retirement. You apply for federal disability benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  To qualify, you must have worked at least 18 months in a covered federal job, have become disabled, and apply while still employed by a federal agency or within one year of separation.  To be disabled for FERS purposes, you must be unable to: Applying for federal disability retirement requires the assistance of several other people. In particular, you will need your supervisor, the agency, and a doctor to assist you. If you are not employed with the agency, particularly if you have been separated for more than one month, you may need to submit your application directly to OPM. You should include contact information for the individuals who need to corroborate the information. What Is Social Security Disability? The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates two programs allowing disabled individuals to collect regular monthly payments. These programs include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability. SSI and SSDI have some differences, but both rely on the same definition of disability.  Qualifying for SSI or SSDI requires you to prove you meet the SSA’s definition of disability. If you are blind, you typically qualify. Otherwise, you are disabled if:  Activities must involve significant physical or mental tasks to be substantial. Gainful activities may include work: In addition, to qualify for SSI disability, you must have limited income and resources. For SSDI, you must have worked enough years in a covered job. You can qualify for both SSI and SSDI at the same time.  Can You Get FERS Disability and Social Security? If you are a current or former federal employee with a disability, you may qualify for both OPM FERS disability retirement and Social Security disability. You are required to apply for Social Security disability when you apply for FERS disability. Because the SSA uses a stricter definition, you may qualify for FERS disability without qualifying for SSI or SSDI. Your benefits may be offset if you qualify for more than one program. Generally, the government offsets part of the disability benefits you receive based on the years you worked in employment not covered by FERS. The exact offset depends on many factors and can change yearly. Comparing OPM Federal Disability and Social Security Disability If you are a current or former federal employee who is disabled, you may qualify for OPM federal disability, Social Security disability, or both. Under Social Security, your disability must impact your ability to work. Additionally, the programs are run by different federal agencies.   Whether you qualify for either program, both, or neither depends on the unique circumstances surrounding your work history and disability. The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing can help you understand the unique relationship between federal employees and social security benefits. We can identify which program or programs work best for you and guide you through the application process. Contact us today to discuss the situation with our experienced, knowledgeable staff and attorneys. 

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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 | FERS Disability

What Is FERS Immediate Retirement Fund?

The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) is the primary retirement system for federal employees. Federal employees under FERS have several retirement options, including disability retirement, early retirement, and immediate retirement. In this piece, we’ll explore FERS immediate retirement in greater depth. Specifically, we’ll discuss the immediate retirement fund and how to fill out the required FERS retirement forms. Contact our talented employment law firm if you have any questions or need legal assistance with your retirement application.    Understanding the Basic Eligibility Requirements for FERS Immediate Retirement  The Office of Personnel Management describes immediate retirement as an annuity that starts within 30 days of your last work day. It is one of five retirement options under FERS. The others are early, disability, regular, and deferred. Not everyone is eligible for immediate retirement. Instead, there are age and experience requirements you must meet to qualify. If you have at least 30 years of eligible government service, you can retire at the government’s minimum retirement age (MRA). The MRA varies according to your year of birth. Those born before 1948 have an MRA of 55, while those born after 1970 have an MRA of 57. As this OPM chart shows, if you were born between 1948 and 1970, your MRA will be between 55 and 57.  If you have 20 years of eligible service, you can retire at 60. And if you are 62, you can obtain immediate retirement after only five years of eligible government service. Although you can technically obtain immediate retirement with only ten years of government service once you arrive at your MRA, it will not be a full benefit. Instead, it will be reduced by 5% for each year that you are under 62.  Completing an Application for Immediate Retirement (FERS) The essential form for an immediate retirement application is Standard Form (SF) 3107. There are several parts to the SF 3107, and completing it requires your agency’s involvement. Fortunately, the form comes with instructions, and you can complete the main portion of the form yourself. However, you’ll need to know: Your agency will complete a copy of SF 3107-1, a certified record of your federal service.  If you select a spouse to receive benefits, they must submit a copy of SF 3107-2 to certify their acceptance of the annuity arrangements. Do I Need a Lawyer to File for FERS Immediate Retirement? No. It is possible to complete your FERS application on your own. That said, having an attorney significantly eases the application process. There are several reasons for this. First, an attorney can help you understand your eligibility for immediate retirement under FERS, including age and service requirements. They can also assist in calculating your retirement benefits so that you completely understand your entitlements. Once you are ready to apply for retirement, an attorney can review your application for errors or complete it themselves. This reduces the chance that you will face delays or a rejected application because of an accidental oversight. Moreover, an attorney can interface with your agency to streamline the application process. This service is essential because agency staffing departments regularly fail to complete a copy of SF 3107-1. Or they respond slowly to incoming applications unless there is an outside party prodding them along.  In the worst scenarios, agencies can sabotage your retirement application because of illegal discrimination and retaliation. An attorney can rectify this issue by holding your agency accountable and initiating litigation if necessary. We’re Ready to Give Your Career the Stellar Ending It Deserves After years or decades of dedicated government service, the last thing you want is a big fight over your retirement. Whether you need assistance understanding your anticipated annuity or help pushing your application along, the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, is standing by. Because we represent federal employees exclusively, we have extensive experience with various retirement applications. We also prioritize client communication and representation. When you work with us, you’re not just a number. You’re family. Call us today or contact us online to set up your first appointment.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Employment Law

What is Federal Sick Leave Abuse

Federal employees may at times face the temptation to call in sick so they can have an unscheduled day off. Abuse of sick leave in the federal workplace is a serious issue that all federal employees should try to avoid. Sick leave abuse laws exist which can carry significant penalties for those who misuse their sick leave. There are also a few ways that supervisors can spot and investigate sick leave abuse by federal employees. If your supervisor has accused you of being a federal employee who’s committed sick leave abuse, contact a federal employee sick leave abuse lawyer right away.  When Is It Okay to Use Sick Leave? The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a federal agency that regulates the employment policies of most other federal agencies, states that federal employees may use sick leave when they need to:  OPM does not define what constitutes an abuse of sick leave. That said, it’s reasonable to assume that any use of sick leave for reasons other than those listed above could constitute “sick leave abuse,” especially if done repeatedly and within a short period of time.  Common signs of sick leave abuse are: If an agency discovers that an employee is committing OPM sick leave abuse, the employee can face discipline. An employee can even face removal from federal service.  What Employers Can Do About Sick Leave Abuse While OPM does not define sick leave abuse, it does establish procedures for employers to require evidence from employees who request sick leave. Specifically, an agency may require “administratively acceptable evidence” before granting sick leave. The definition of “administratively acceptable evidence.” For example, if an employee requests sick leave to care for a family member, the agency may require that the employee provide proof of their relationship with the family member. If an employee claims sick leave to visit a doctor, the agency can request a doctor’s note that confirms the visit.  Do You Need a Federal Sick Leave Abuse Attorney? Accusations of sick leave abuse are no joke. If you have been accused of abusing sick leave, you could be counseled, reprimanded, suspended, or even removed from your job. So if your supervisor has accused you of sick leave abuse, you need to contact a sick leave abuse attorney immediately.  When looking for an attorney that can help you defend your rights, it’s absolutely essential that you select someone who has familiarity with your situation and the federal workplace.  At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing,  PLLC., we concentrate on representing federal employees and protecting their rights. Our firm has the experience needed to help federal employees who have been accused of misconduct. Even if you aren’t sure whether you need an attorney, it takes no time at all to contact us. Call today! You might also be interested in:

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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

Differences Between FERS Deferred Retirement and FERS Postponed Retirement

For federal employees contemplating retirement, understanding the nuances between different retirement strategies is essential. Except for a few very senior employees, most federal workers fall under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). It’s particularly important to understand whether FERS deferred retirement or FERS postponed retirement is a better fit for your circumstances.  In this article, we’ll clarify the difference between these two different retirement options and help you understand which one might be better for you.  However, if you need specific advice for your situation, then contact a competent FERS disability retirement attorney today.   Understanding Your Options: FERS Deferred or Postponed Retirement First, we need to explore what the terms “deferred retirement” and “postponed retirement” mean. Although these options fall under the FERS, they each operate under distinct circumstances and hold unique implications for retirees. Deferred retirement is typically for FERS employees who leave federal service before they reach the minimum retirement age (MRA). You can apply for deferred retirement if you have at least five years of creditable civilian service. However, bear in mind that you can’t withdraw your contributions to the retirement fund. If you do, you won’t be eligible for deferred retirement. On the other hand, postponed retirement is an option for FERS employees who have reached their MRA and have somewhere between 10 and 30 years of service. Postponed FERS retirement allows you to delay receiving retirement benefits to avoid the age reduction penalty.  What Are the Differences Between Deferred Retirement and Postponed Retirement? Besides the eligibility requirements and the retirement benefits that we just mentioned, there are several other differences between deferred retirement and postponed retirement.  Insurance Benefits One critical difference lies in health insurance and life insurance benefits. Under FERS deferred retirement, you are not eligible to continue receiving either Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) or Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) after you leave federal service. If you choose to postpone your retirement, you can reinstate your FEHB and FEGLI when you begin to receive your annuity. However, to receive these benefits, you need to show that you were enrolled in these programs at least five years before your separation. Survivor Benefits Another key difference involves survivor benefits. If you die while receiving a deferred retirement annuity, no survivor annuity is payable. This is because you have to receive an immediate annuity that began within 30 days of your separation to be able to receive survivor benefits. By contrast, FERS postponed retirement can sometimes pay out survivor benefits to your loved ones if you pass away before receiving your annuity.  Thrift Savings Plan FERS deferred and postponed retirements also differ when it comes to the thrift savings plan (TSP). All employees under FERS benefit from the TSP. Furthermore, deferred retirees and postponed retirees can withdraw their TSP funds. However, if deferred retirees can withdraw their TSP funds after they separate, they will have to pay the IRS’s early withdrawal penalty if they are below the age of 59 and 6 months. However, postponed retirees do not have to pay the early withdrawal penalty because they are already at their MRA. Cost of Living Adjustments Lastly, FERS deferred retirement does not offer cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) until the retiree reaches the age of 62. Conversely, retirees under FERS postponed retirement can receive COLAs as soon as they begin receiving their annuity, even if they are under 62. Is There a FERS Deferred Retirement Calculator I Can Use? Many people find it helpful to visualize their retirement options with a retirement calculator. While OPM offers a general formula for calculating your FERS retirement, they do not offer a calculator specifically for deferred retirement situations. If you’re looking to calculate your potential retirement sums, it’s best to contact an experienced federal retirement attorney. Let Us Help You Determine Whether FERS Deferred Retirement or Postponed Retirement Is a Better Option While this article provides a basic understanding of the interplay between different kinds of retirement, it’s only a foundation. The truth is that retirement decisions can be complex. In addition, the choices you make for your retirement will have tremendous effects on your life down the road. Consequently, it’s prudent to reach out to a knowledgeable federal attorney who can give you the advice you need.  Our team of adept attorneys at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, is deeply knowledgeable about the nuanced legal factors intrinsic to FERS deferred and postponed retirement cases. In addition, we share an abiding passion for helping the dedicated civil servants who make our country’s government run effectively. Together, we can help you understand which retirement option is best for you in light of your circumstances. We’ll then take the steps necessary to put your plan into motion, including helping you complete your application for deferred or postponed retirement under FERS. If necessary, we’ll work with your agency to ensure that your legal rights are respected and that you receive the retirement benefits that you rightfully deserve.  Contact us today to set up your initial appointment by calling us at 866-612-5956. You can also visit our website online.

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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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