CSRS vs. disability retirement


Q. I am a CSRS employee with 33 years of federal service and I am 54 years old. My agency (the Postal Service) is offering a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority at the end of January. I am a disabled vet with 80 percent rating. Should I take the VERA or apply for medical retirement? I have paid all required quarters for Social Security, and have a daughter still in school. Which method is more beneficial? I plan to apply for 100 percent Veterans Affairs compensation as service-connected injuries are more disabling.

A. Based on your years of service, the only advantage of retiring on disability rather than taking voluntary early retirement is that in the latter case, your annuity would be reduced by 1/6 percent for every month you were under age 55. On the other hand, retiring under the VERA would be trouble-free, while applying for disability retirement not only requires a lot of time and effort, but there’s no guarantee that your application will be approved.

No matter which way you go, the fact that you will be receiving an annuity from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes will mean that you’ll be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP will reduce your Social Security benefit if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. Your VA compensation won’t be affected under either scenario.


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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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