Q. What is the difference between FERS retirement and federal disability retirement? If there is a difference, can they be combined? I have seven years of service. Is it more beneficial to push until at least 10 years of employment with Veterans Affairs? I am 54 years old and sick.

A. No, they can’t be combined. To be eligible for regular retirement, you’d need to have 10 years of service and reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56. To be eligible for disability retirement, you’d have to have at least 18 months of service, apply for disability retirement with your agency’s help and be evaluated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Only if OPM determined that you were unable to perform your current job (or one at the same grade or pay) would you be approved for disability retirement.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I am 59 and on opm disability retirement for over 10 years. I have become unable to work because of my condition and have decided to file for disability social security. In the long run, when my annuity gets recalculated at 62, will filing now or waiting 3 years till recalculation affect the amount I receive. My income has not been significant for the 10 years ($4500-$7400)?

    • I have no idea. If anyone of our readers can answer your question, I’ll be happy to pass the information on to you.

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