Retire at 62 vs. disability on term appointment


Q. I am a FERS employee on a term appointment who turns 62 this month. My Parkinson’s disease is getting worse, and I may not be able to complete my term appointment, which ends in April. Must I retire before my terms ends? Must I apply for Social Security retirement? Or may I apply for disability until age 65?

A. If you apply for FERS disability retirement, you must also apply for Social Security disability benefits at the same time. If you don’t, the Office of Personnel Management won’t process your application. However, you need to understand that, at age 62, anyone who has been approved for disability retirement will have his annuity recomputed as though he’d retired on a regular annuity. Because you would probably be 62 by the time OPM received your application, you might want to take the shorter route and simply apply for regular retirement. That wouldn’t restrict you from applying for a Social Security disability benefit. To be approved for that benefit, you must be incapable of any gainful employment. The time to apply for it is when you are close to your last day on the payroll. Social Security won’t process your claim if you are still in a pay status.


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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

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