Q. I work for the Air Force, and I have 35 years of actual service under CSRS and I am 62. I have confirmed from OPM that I can apply for disability retirement within a year after retiring and start receiving annuity payments. I have had FEHB for only one year so the regular retirement will not allow me to keep FEHB (five-year rule). Can I apply for disability retirement before my regular retirement, or do I have to wait until after I retire to apply?
A. You can apply for disability retirement now. However, it’s not clear what you would gain by applying at all. As a rule, a CSRS disability benefit equals an earned benefit when an employee has around 22 years of service or is at least 60 years old. By simply retiring, you’d avoid all the cost and effort involved in documenting your disability. And even if you did that, there’s no guarantee that your application for disability retirement would be approved.