Q. I have been working for the federal government for just over five years. I am in need of my third spinal surgery. This one will be a doozy and will put me out of commission for over a year, and I will no longer be able to sit comfortably, which will make it impossible to do my eight-hour desk job. According to Social Security, I would qualify for full disability, but I have not applied yet. Would I be eligible for both Social Security disability and the early disability retirement under FERS being only 41? If so, which is done first: surgery, Social Security or retirement?
A. You only have to have 18 months of FERS service to be eligible to apply for disability retirement. If you do that, you must also apply for Social Security disability benefits. Otherwise, the Office of Personnel Management won’t process your application.