Q. As part of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlement, my agency wants me to accept a federal disability retirement and is willing to put me on administrative leave while waiting for approval. I am a federal law enforcement officer with 21 years service, and my high-3 is about $128,000. I recently had a spinal fusion. I will get around $70,000 in disability retirement the first year, and if I get denied by Social Security, I can ask to continue at 60 percent rather than 40 percent, which would give me $70,000 per year. This would work out better than my regular retirement in four years. Are they right about being able to continue to get paid at 60 percent? I cannot find any regulations that allow this.
A. Like you, I can find no basis for your agency’s contention that you could continue at the 60 percent level after the first year. The law is clear. For the first 12 months, you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3, minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. From then until age 62, it would be reduced to 40 percent of your high-3, minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. If you weren’t eligible for a Social Security disability benefit, you’d receive 60 percent and then 40 percent of your high-3.