Disability retirement


Q. I am facing having to retire under a medical retirement. Effective this May I will only have a total of 9 years government service under FERS and I am only 52 years old and not eligible for regular retirement yet. What is the difference between a disability retirement and medical retirement and what would my annuity payment be based on? I was told I would receive 80 percent of my high-3. Is this correct?

A. There is no such thing as medical retirement, only disability retirement. To qualify for that benefit, it would have to be determined that you are unable to perform useful and efficient service in your current position because of disease or injury or any other available position at the same grade and pay for which you are qualified.

No, it isn’t correct that you’d receive 80 percent of your high-3. What you would receive for the first 12 months is 60 percent of your high-3, minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit to which you are entitled. After the first 12 months, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3, minus 60 percent of any Social Security benefit to which you are entitled. At age 62, your disability benefit would be converted to a regular retirement benefit. Essentially, you’d receive the annuity you would have received if you’d worked to age 62.


About Author

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


  1. I am 61 years of age. I have a total 28 years in federal service, 16 yrs, 4 months military service and 12 years federal service. In 2017 I was placed on part time hours under a reasonable accommodation. This was due to my 70% PTSD Disability. I have $3,000.00 left to buy back for my military time. If I request immediate retirement can my military buy back balance be taken from my accumulative leave time, or can it continue to be deducted monthly at $100.

    I will turn 62 Sept 7, 2018.

    • You would have to complete the deposit before your retirement was finalized by OPM. While you might receive your payment for unused annual leave in time to complete the deposit, you’d be cutting it close.

  2. I have a Civil Serivce Retirement Disability pension, my husband passed 3-14-2018 and we were both receiving Social Security checks, my was from odd jobs during my lifetime, beause no SS was taken out of my check whe I work civil service, My husband was receving SS from his active duty for 30y ears. SS is telling me that I will not receive any monies from my husband;s SS because I get my govt pension check, My SS is on $178 per month. My husband was receiving 1666.00 per month. The also say that because my husband sold a commercial building in 2016 for 250,000 and had to pay 30,000 to the IRS for the sale of the building that affects why I do not get any of his SS benefits. That was a one time sell (once in lifetime for which he paid for that building for 25 years. Can you answer my questions

    • Because you are receiving an annuity from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, any Social Security spousal benefit would be reduced or eliminated by the government pension offset provision of law. For more information about how the GPO will affect you, go to https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.

  3. Thomas Tansey on

    Hello Sir, I had a question about my disability retirement. I left Federal technician status in 2009 when I was 40 years old. I receive SSDI and it took almost 8 years to get VA disability, but I was found 100% disabled in 2016. My question is about the federal technician retirement. I was told if I have not found gainful employment that passed the 80% of my high 3 that when I reached 60 I would be retired as if I worked all those years as a regular employee? Since I was 40 years old and already had 12 years under my belt, I’m guessing I would have a retirement which I had 32 years of service? I was a WG-10, step 4 I think, if that has anything to do with it? It’s really hard to find much on the web about federal technician disability retirements. I am guessing I have that correct but I am really only taking what I have read on the web. Can you tell me if my logic is flawed or is that the way OPM really handles retirees like myself? I wonder how that will impact any money I receive from Social security. Also, I was trying to figure out a way in which I would be able to calculate how much I would receive? Thank you very much in advance for any info you may provide me! Have a great day!

    • At age 62 your FERS disability benefit will be recomputed as if you had worked to age 62. Your actual service will be added to your time spent on disability. The, because your combined years will be greater than 20, that total will be multiplied by 1.1 percent. That figure will be multiplied by your high-3 on the day you went on the disability roll,increased by any FERS COLAs payable from that time to age 62.

  4. Luis Ramirez on

    I was hired with cbp back in Jan 2008 with a pre existing condition of degenerative arthritis of the spine, now I am diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis. I know I can claim disability with the VA, in addition…can I claim disability with CBP?

    • Your agency can help you file for disability retirement. OPM will then determine if you qualify for that benefit.

  5. What do you after you file your disability retirement application. I still listed as an employee, but I cannot return to work or file for non-disability retirement. Am not sure what to do. Please help.

    • Employees who have filed for disability retirement and are unable to return to work use a combination of sick and annual leave to carry them through to the point their disability annuities are adjudicated. If they have no leave left, other employees can donate annual leave to bridge the gap. If that doesn’t produce enough to cover the gap, then you’ll be placed in a non-pay status.

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