Lower-graded job for health reasons


Q. I am a 50-year-old, 25-year U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee hoping to get to full retirement in several years. I have developed Parkinson’s disease, however, and may be unable to successfully fulfill my current role as a biologist. If I take a lesser-grade job available, will my pay stay the same or will it drop? Also, if I go out on disability through this original job, can I get a random nonfederal job at a local business to keep active?

A. If you take a lower-graded job, your pay would only remain the same if your current salary fell within the pay range of the new job and you were placed in a step that was closest to it. If you applied for FERS disability retirement, you would also have to apply for Social Security disability benefits. If your application for disability retirement was approved, you could continue to work if what you did didn’t prove that you had recovered from your disability and your earnings didn’t exceed 80 percent of the current rate of pay for the position you left. If you were also approved for Social Security disability benefits, those benefits would end if you were able to engage in substantially gainful work.


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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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