Medical retirement and Social Security application


Q. I am about to be medically retired. I have seven years of federal law enforcement service and three years of state law enforcement service. I have seen that I have to sign up for Social Security. I am confused about this because I wish to keep working, but because of my job duties, I am unable to continue working at my present job. I know I qualify for the FERS medical retirement. I am pretty sure I do not qualify for Social Security. So what happens to the medical retirement if I am denied Social Security? This is a work-related injury. I will more than likely go back out in the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program after my temporary additional duty is completed, and I also know I will have to pick OWCP benefits or medical retirement benefits that “can only be paid from one at a time.” I’m doing the medical retirement as a backup in case something goes wrong with OWCP; this way I can just switch to medical retirement if I am dropped by OWCP.

What happens to the FERS medical retirement if I am denied Social Security?

A. Because you are a FERS employee, you are required by law to apply for both disability retirement and Social Security disability benefits. If you don’t, OPM won’t process your application. You can qualify for FERS disability retirement even if you aren’t eligible for a Social Security disability benefit.


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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