Federal disability retirement can seem overwhelming when making application. At Graham Law Group, our more than 25 years of experience helps us to help you. If you’re a federal employee and your agency has not been successful trying to retain you in a productive capacity, you could apply for federal employee disability retirement. Here are some things you should know before you make your application.
- Basic eligibility requirements
- Applying for federal employee disability retirement
- What happens if the federal employee disability retirement request fails?
- Restoration of earning capacity
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Basic eligibility requirements
To qualify for disability benefits under The Federal Retirement System (FERS), you must have employment as a federal employee for at least 18 months. Besides, you should be medically unable to carry out an essential part of your job.
The federal-state must prove it’s unable to reassign you another position. But this doesn’t mean that you have to show that you have full disability – you only prove that you can’t perform duties in your current job. The disability should last at least 12 months.
Your disability annuity is calculation is as follows:
- The first one year you’re paid 60% of your high-3 less any disability benefit you’re entitled to
- After one year, you’re paid 40% of your high-3 minus 60% of any disability benefit
- If your employment is for less than three years, your annuity is calculated on the average salary
If you get disabled just before you reach age 62, your benefits are calculated as if you worked to the retirement age. But if you work for the federal government for 20 years, you’ll receive 25 percent of your high-3 salary.
After approval of the application for your disability, you may need to provide up-to-date information to continue receiving the benefits. If you don’t fulfill this request, the payments may go into suspension until establishment of your eligibility.
Applying for federal employee retirement
You should apply for disability retirement after the separation from federal employment. But you can still apply for the retirement benefits 31 days after separation from service when the initial determination comes from doctor opinions and medical records. If your employing agency doesn’t have your personnel records, you should make your application to OPM within 12 months. You can also request for social disability benefits.
Since the one year limit determination is by law, a waiver completion is available if you prove you’re mentally incompetent to apply within the requirement of time. Failure to follow the set rules is no excuse for waiving the time limit.
What happens if the federal disability retirement request fails?
If you’re denied the benefits, you have one month to ask for reconsideration. You may want to provide up-to-date material that can help in your case. If the application fails again, you should take the case to Merit Systems Protection Board (a quasi-judicial agency). Make sure you meet the filing deadlines or you could miss a meritorious claim.
Restoration of earning capacity
If you’re a disabled retiree under 60, you could have access to your annuity. OPM will send you a questionnaire every year to determine whether your earning capacity is 80% of the current salary. If you meet this criteria, your earnings may be restored by the federal service. This applies even if there’s no change in medical condition.