FERS disability retirement vs. Social Security disability


Q. I am considering applying for a FERS disability retirement. I understand the percentages of pay and applying for Social Security disability if Social Security approves disability also. If you file for FERS disability retirement, you must at the same time file for Social Security disability benefits. If you do not, the Office of Personnel Management will not process your application. Based on this statement, is it true that OPM could approve, however Social Security may not approve, as they have different standards? What happens if Social Security does not approve. Will I continue to get the unreduced monthly annuity from OPM?

A. You’ve done a good job of describing the process. OPM could approve your application for disability retirement because it only requires that you be disabled for useful and efficient service in your current position or any vacant position at the same grade and pay for which you are qualified. On the other hand, to be approved for Social Security disability benefits, you must be disabled for all gainful employment.

If you are only approved for FERS disability retirement, for the first 12 months, you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3. After the first 12 months and up to age 62, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3. At age 62, your disability retirement would be converted to a regular retirement.


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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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