Disability retirement vs. regular retirement

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Q. I’m a letter carrier with 32 years of federal service under FERS. I have 2½ years to go before I meet my minimum retirement age. I’m considering disability retirement because my health has been keeping me from work. What will I lose or gain (pros and cons) between regular retirement and disability retirement. Which is stronger financially?

A. FERS disability retirement provides the greater benefit, even for employees with as many years as you have. Note: If you file for FERS disability retirement, you must also file for Social Security disability benefits.

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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.

19 Comments

  1. If you take regular retirement, as an LEO with 23 years of service you’d receive 39.1 percent of your high-3. If you were approved for disability retirement, for the first 12 months, you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3, minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. After the first 12 months, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3, minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. Note: It can takes months for OPM to process a disability retirement case.

  2. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING A 30 PERCENT DISABILITY RETIREMENT FROM ARMY BACK DATED TO THE DATE YO,U RETIRE FROM THE ARMY AT THE TIME YOU GOT OUT YOU DID NOT HAVE MEDICAL RETIREMENT SO YO GO THROUGH VA AND SOCIAL SECURITY AND FINALLY GET 100 PERCENT DISABILITY AND THE ARMY COME BACK AND SAY YOU DO NOT RECEIVE ANY MONEY OR BACK PAY FROM THEM AND YOU OWE THEM MONEY HELP

  3. How do you know if you qualify? I am struggling sitting or standing at work(USPS). I am also a disabled vet. I’ve been with the USPS for 29 yrs and I’m 55yrs old.

    • You would have to apply for disability retirement and, if you are covered by FERS, you would also need to apply for Social Security disability benefits. You’re agency personnel office is responsible for helping you through the process.

  4. Krista Weyer on

    I worked as a PMR for 5.5 yrs and then as a PTF clerk for the last 13 yrs. I’m 54 yrs old, and due to a shoulder injury (that has yet to be proven a OWCP case) I’m unable to perform all of the duties of my job and I meet all of the criteria for disability retirement. Am I going to lose the contributions I’ve paid into? And how will my retirement benefits be calculated?

  5. 54 years old, 25 years as a mail carrier. Facing separation not being able to return to work within one year. Is disability retirement the best option or should I try for accomodation in a position suited to my limitations. I will be unable to work as a mail carrier. There is no guarantee the USPS will try to accomodate me. Thank you.

    • While accommodation may be a possibility, you should apply for disability retirement now while your agency can help you complete the necessary paperwork.

      • Thank you. I will be getting someone to help me with completing the necessary paperwork. I am currently receiving owcp benefits, which as long as they last may be better than electing disability retirement. I am trying to figure out the financial implications of each to make the best decision. There will be a significant third-party offset and my owcp benefits will be suspended until it is cleared. I don’t know how this period of suspended benefits will affect any separation, light-duty job offer, or vocational training activity. Medical clearance for return to any duty is still uncertain. I am reading as much as I can, but there is a huge amount of information. Can you give me any direction for any of these concerns?

  6. I am a registered nurse working for a county hospital for 13 years. I am 49 years old and was diagnosed with lupus a year ago. What are my options about getting disability retirement when I turn 50 in a few months ? and what are my chances of getting social security disability ?

  7. I retired after two injuries and got Disability Social Security in 2008 and at my regular social security date in 2012 my payment was changed to regular social security. Am I still considered disabled and should an insurance that had a rider to pay policy premium still pay my premiums?

  8. Raymond Bisares on

    I recently turned 62. Four years ago, I had my disability retirement approved by USPS. Unfortunately, social security did not approve my disability and didn’t receive any monthly benefit until I turned 62 and that was at the non disability dollar rate. Does my USPS disability retirement monthly annuity increase to what a voluntary immediate retirement is? And, since I turned 62 several months ago, will OPM process a lump sum payment to cover those several months.
    Thank you.

    • Here are the rules for FERS disability retirees:
      At age 62, your disability benefit will be recomputed. An artificial retirement benefit will be calculated as if you had worked to age 62, Therefore, actual service will be added to the time you spent on the disability rolls to age 62. The total time will then be multiplied by 1 percent (1.1 percent if your actual service plus time on disability equals 20 or more years of service). The total percentage amount will be multiplied by your high-3 at the onset of your disability, increased by all FERS cost-of-living adjustments payable from that time to age 62. If that benefit is greater than the one you were receiving, you’d be entitled to a make-up payment. If it isn’t, you wouldn’t.

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