Disability vs. early retirement


Q. I am 51 years old and have suffered a stroke. I realize I could probably apply for FERS disability retirement, but I have a dilemma. I am buying back my military service time, but I have about five years to buy it all back. Which is better to apply for disability retirement or regular early retirement?

A. You don’t meet the age and service requirements to retire on a regular annuity. And the only way you could retire early is if you had at least 20 years of creditable service and your agency separated you. Then you’d be eligible for a discontinued service retirement. On the other hand, nothing would prevent you from applying for disability retirement and Social Security disability benefits. If approved, your benefits would usually be greater than they would if you received a discontinued service annuity. However, if you hadn’t completed the deposit for your active duty service, that time wouldn’t be included when your disability annuity was converted to a regular annuity at age 62.


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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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