Q. I am 51 and have been diagnosed with chronic PTSD causing mental lapses and focus deficiency issues. I am considering a medical disability retirement, as I am having a very hard time doing contract administration work. I am a FERS employee, GS-09, with 14 years of federal service — 1½ in my current position. I need to look at my total potential income picture before I decide.
I understand I will need to apply for Social Security when/if I apply for disability, but how does getting Social Security work with getting disability payments? Would I draw from both (assuming I qualify for Social Security)? If so, how much? Also, I am a 50 percent Air Force veteran and am looking to apply for 100 percent based on being employable. How will this play into my income picture? And where can I go for more research on these topics?
A. To find out how to apply for disability retirement and what the criteria are for receiving it, go to www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C060 and scroll to Subpart 60B. To find out how disability benefits are calculated and how they interact with Social Security, go to www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C061 and scroll to Subpart 61B. As a rule, retiring on disability will not affect your entitlement to VA disability payments. However, it would be a good idea to check with VA to be sure there isn’t some wrinkle of which I’m unaware.