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.

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