Disability retirement


Q: Based on a medical condition, I am a disabled employee trying a new treatment but if it is not successful, my doctor recommends disability retirement (SSA and CSRS offset). If I do leave in a couple of months, I am planning on using my accrued annual and sick leave from approximately July 29 to approximately September 30. Note: My 36 months of continuous service is from 9/14/2008 (a Sunday) to 9/14/2011 (a Wednesday). I am a reinstated employee who separated in 1987. I understand that there are terminal leave provisions for the last pay period prior to retirement. Do you know if this applies in this situation? Also, does being on sick leave and using annual leave as a substitute for sick leave affect my 36 months of continuous service? Do I need to be in work status on 9/14/2011 or 9/15/2011?

A: While your doctor might recommend that you go on disability retirement, only OPM and the Social Security Administration can make that determination. Further, if you are covered by CSRS (or CSRS Offset), you would have to have five years of creditable service to be eligible. If you are covered by FERS, only 18 months is required. The eligibility rules for Social Security disability benefits depend on the time you were covered by Social Security before the onset of the disability and your age.

Assuming that your agency approved your use of sick leave and/or annual leave, it wouldn’t adversely affect your length of service. In fact, it would increase your time on the rolls.

According to OPM, “Terminal leave is generally prohibited except with specific authority.” I’m not aware of any authority for the use of terminal leave that would apply in this situation.


About Author

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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