Many people enjoy being a federal employee because of the benefits it offers.
One of these benefits is a generous disability retirement package under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS).
So if you have suffered an injury on the job, you might be considering applying for federal disability retirement.
But knowing whether you’re eligible for disability retirement benefits is not always straightforward.
Read on to learn whether you might be eligible for federal disability retirement benefits. This guide will cover the basic eligibility rules and the benefits you can enjoy.
If you want more specific advice for your situation, contact the outstanding team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC.
How to Determine Your FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the federal agency responsible for regulating the rules for disability retirement.
That means that their rules regarding disability retirement eligibility apply to most federal agencies.
OPM states that you need to meet several criteria to be eligible for federal disability retirement benefits.
- You must serve in the government for a minimum length of time. You need to have at least 18 months of federal civilian service under your belt to qualify for federal disability retirement.
- You must become disabled due to disease or injury. And your disability must make you unable to perform the “critical” or “essential” duties of your position of record.
- Your disability must last (or be expected to last) for at least one year. Disabilities that may resolve at some indefinite future time usually meet this standard.
- Your agency must certify that it cannot accommodate your disabling medical condition in your current position or a similar position. To meet this step, your agency needs to assess whether it could reassign you to a position of a similar grade or pay level. If you cannot be accommodated in a similar position, your agency may move to separate you from federal service.
- You must apply for federal disability retirement benefits within one year of separation. Waiting beyond this time can sink your chances of a successful retirement application.
- Finally, you need to apply for social security benefits, although there is no requirement to be approved for SSDI. And make sure you do not withdraw your social security application after applying for FERS disability retirement. If you do, OPM will reject your federal disability retirement application.
Federal Disability Retirement – Calculating Your Benefits
Let’s say you meet these requirements and successfully submit your application. What kinds of benefits can you expect to receive? The answer to that depends on several factors.
The first one is your age. If you are over 62 years old, your annuity will generally equal one percent of your average salary from the three years you were paid the most (also known as your “high-three” salary) multiplied by your years and months of service.
In other words, it’s the same as non-disability retirement for applicants over age 62.
We will use an example to show you how this calculation process works. Let’s say your “high-three” salary is $100,000, and you have 10 years of federal government service.
One percent of $100,000 is $1,000. And $1,000 times 10 (for your 10 years of service) is $10,000. So you’d receive $10,000 a year in disability benefits.
If you are 62 years old and you have more than 20 years of government service, then you receive 1.1% of your “high-three” salary multiplied by your years of service.
So if your high-three salary was $100,000 and you worked in the government for 30 years, your annual annuity would be $33,000.
But what if you’re under 62? In that case, you will get 60% of your “high-three” salary minus whatever payments you receive from social security during the first year, and then 40% of your “high-three” salary minus 60% of your SSDI benefits each year thereafter until age 62.
Want to Learn More About Your Eligibility for Federal Disability Benefits?
As you can see, the world of federal disability retirement is extremely complex.
Knowing whether you’re eligible for retirement is just the beginning of obtaining FERS retirement benefits.
You also need to fill out your application paperwork carefully, get the correct medical documentation and have a lot of patience.
On top of that, federal agencies can wrongly deny your application, putting your future welfare in jeopardy.
If you want help filing your disability retirement application or if your retirement application has been denied, then you might need a federal employment attorney.
At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, we’re dedicated to helping federal employees make full use of their rights under the law.
Mr. Wersing has extensive experience with all kinds of federal employment issues, including disability retirement applications.
We can also help you if your employer has rejected your application for retirement. Together, we can help you achieve the benefits you need.
Worried about the cost of an attorney? Don’t be. We never want legal fees to discourage you from coming to see us.
That’s why we offer all potential clients a free initial consultation. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.