Q. I am a 58-year-old letter carrier covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System with 27½ years of service. I recently became incapacitated due to an occupational disease/illness. I am considering submitting a CA-2 form for worker’s comp under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, applying for FERS disability and Social Security disability, or applying for early retirement. Can I apply for all four options at the same time and choose the best option later?
What is not clear to me is the FERS disability option. Since I have reached my minimum retirement age and qualify for immediate retirement excluding the Social Security supplement, am I stuck with the 1 percent of high-3 annuity only, or can I receive the option for 60 percent of my current salary? The annuity option seems to be a huge disadvantage to the tune of $18,000 yearly until age 62 (estimated on a $53,000 base salary).
A. You are free to apply for any or all of the benefits you mentioned. In fact, you have to apply for a Social Security disability benefit if you apply for FERS disability retirement. Regardless of your eligibility for discontinued service retirement, you can apply for FERS disability retirement. If approved, during the first year you would receive 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit to which you were entitled. After that, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. At age 62, your disability annuity would be converted to a regular annuity.
If you are also found eligible for both FERS disability retirement and employees compensation, you’d have to choose between the two. Your decision most likely would be based on which of the two provides the better benefit financially.