Q. I am a federal firefighter with 19 years in. I am shy of three months until I am eligible to retire with my 20 years. I have been told that I am not fit for duty because of some health issues and that I will not be able to retire in August as I had planned. I am being told that I will be let go and that I need to apply for disability. I had 13 years active duty as a firefighter (I already paid back my 13 years). I am also a 10-point veteran. I am trying to figure out what the difference is (if any) if I paid back my military time, and what my disability amount might be. I have tried for a reasonable accommodation and was denied.
A. If you qualify for disability retirement, the fact that you haven’t made a deposit for your active-duty service would have no effect on your disability annuity. As a FERS employee, your annuity for the first 12 months would be 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit to which you are entitled. (You’d have to apply for Social Security disability benefits at the same time you file for disability retirement under FERS.) After the first 12 months and until age 62, your annuity would be 40 percent of your high-3 minus any Social Security disability benefit. Therefore, making a deposit for your active-duty service would only affect the amount of your annuity at two points in time: if you were determined to be recovered from your disability, or you reached age 62 and had your annuity recomputed. In either case, those years of active-duty service for which you made a deposit would be included in the computation.