Disability and retirement


Q. I am 50 years old. I did six years active duty which I have not paid back to get credit, and I have 24 years civil service.  I had a heart  attack two years ago. I have a stint and  defibrillator, but I am able to  work.  There is no way my boss would give me a positive disability letter. I have a little different outlook on life now. I’d like to travel, etc.  Luckily, I have a few hundred thousand in my Thrift Savings Plan. What are my retirement options, if any, right now?  I know I have no leave and need to somehow buy back my military time.  Is it even possible to retire?  If I could even get disability, would buying back my military time add to my retirement?

A. You have no immediate retirement options, and you won’t have any until you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56. While you could leave government – with or without making a deposit for your active duty service – you wouldn’t be eligible for a deferred annuity until you reached age 56. And, if you did, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 60.

While you say that your boss won’t give you a “positive disability letter,”  your right to apply for disability retirement isn’t governed by what he will or won’t do. You can still apply; however without supporting evidence that your physical condition is affecting your performance, it’s harder to prove that you qualify for disability 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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