Disability retirement basics

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Q: I am a federal employee who will soon be going in for open-heart surgery. I am 58 years old and will be 59 in March. I have until I’m 60 to reach 20 years of service for early retirement. I am also a retired E-6. What would happen if the doctor after the operation says I can no longer work? Would I be given 100 percent disability of my base pay?

A: As an employee under the Federal Employees Retirement System, if you were approved by the Office of Personnel Management for disability retirement, during the first 12 months you would receive 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit to which you were entitled. (You have to file for a Social Security disability benefit at the same time you file for FERS benefits.) After the first 12 months, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit.

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