Social Security disability denied


Q. 1. I have been approved for FERS disability retirement under the Office of Personnel Management but denied Social Security disability. How can that be? I can no longer perform my job duties as an office support technician due to severe and chronic lower back and sciatica pain, degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis of the spine, neck, arm and shoulder.

2. I plan on hiring a lawyer and appealing. What do you recommend? And is it legal for the Social Security Administration to deny me when I have been approved and classified as not being able to perform my current duties, which I have held since 1995? I have been employed with the federal government since 1981.

A. Yes, it is legal. Two laws are at work here. To qualify for FERS disability retirement, you only need to be unable to perform useful and efficient service in your current job or one that accommodates your disability at the same grade and pay level. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you would have to be so severely physically or mentally impaired that you cannot perform ANY substantial gainful activity.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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