Q.  I am a postal worker age 60  with 26 1/2 years of service under FERS.  I recently developed a health problem that I feel may keep me from returning to work.  Can I apply for disability with the Postal Service and not with Social Security?  Also, the formula states that the first year would be 60 percent of high-3 minus 100 percent of Social Security. What exactly does that mean?

A.  As a FERS employee, if you apply for disability retirement you have to apply for Social Security disability benefits; otherwise OPM won’t process your claim. If you are approved for both benefits, the formula you cited would be applied. It means exactly what it says. After the first 12 months, you’d receive  40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of your Social Security disability benefit. If you were only approved for FERS disability, you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3 in the first year and 40 percent thereafter. In either case, at age 62 your disability annuity would be recalculated as if you had worked until age 62, and would be based on your high-3 when you first retired, increased by any cost-of-living adjustment that had been made to your annuity since you retired, and multiplied by 0.01 percent.



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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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