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Disability Retirement


The federal government allows employees who are unable to work to retire under a disability retirement. It is in the best interest of both employees and the federal government for employees to remain gainfully employed in their current grade or pay level, as long as they can provide useful and efficient service without endangering themselves, others or government property.
Disability retirement should be the very last option and should be used only when attempts have been made to preserve an individual's employment, and those attempts have failed.

Order our Disability Retirement guide to educate yourself on the rules and regulations concerning disability retirement for federal employees.

To read today's top news stories on federal employee pay, benefits, retirement, job rights and other workplace issues visit FederalDaily.com.
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Caligirl  
#1 Posted : Sunday, July 06, 2008 11:08:43 AM(UTC)
Caligirl

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Posts: 4

I'm considering whether to pursue a disability retirement, but I'm not sure of the long-term financial consequences and am hoping for some objective advice. I am 53 years old and am a CSRS-Offset with 30 years service. I only need two more years to be able to retire but physically I'm not sure I can continue to do my job for two more years. I have a very rare neuromuscular disease that is causing a degenration of my large muscle groups. I can no longer climb stairs and have trouble with curbs. I have fallen several times at work. Sometimes all it takes is an uneven surface and I trip and go down hard. The problem is that I have to travel in my job. Navigating through airports and frequently boarding and deplaning from the tarmac are very difficult for me. To make matters worse, the facility that I travel to frequently has the steepest stairs I've ever seen and no elevator. I love my job, but it's just too much for me physically. I am a fairly high grade (GS-14) and I don't see any other positions that my senior management could put me in to accomodate my limitations, although I have not discussed this with anyone. I've done a good job at hiding my disability but it has grown worse over the years and I'm at a point that I have to do something. Also, I'm concerned about the loss of financial security by retiring early. Two more years means about $6K per year on my annuity. Any advice is appreciated.
edalder  
#2 Posted : Monday, July 07, 2008 1:52:42 AM(UTC)
edalder

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You are CSRS-offset. Like your FERS counterparts, you would have to apply for SS disability, but I suspect you won't qualify for SS disability. You still would have to go thru the motions of applying.

In your disability retirement application, your agency would have to certify that it cannot accommodate the limitations that you mentioned. Is there any chance that you agency could reduce or eliminate the travel with your current job, since that seems to be the most problematic part of what you do? If so, then you probably won't qualify for a disability retirement.

The key question in my mind is does your job really require this travel and is it written into your PD that you must travel X% of the time, for example.
Kivi
postalwiz  
#3 Posted : Monday, July 07, 2008 5:14:13 AM(UTC)
postalwiz

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If you have a degenerative disease which is
progressing and affects your muscles including
the fact that you have fallen 3 times at work
and you are required to travel and you are under the OFFSET I will say that you probably have more
than enough to apply and receive disability
retirement and under the OFFSET they will compute
your disability retirement as if you were covered under CSRS only and the offset from SS
will only be applied if approved for SS disability. I think what you are concerned about is the $6000 you state you may loose if you apply now. How much is your salary and why do you think is $6000. If you leave at age 53 with that many years of service after approval for disability retirement the most you will loose under CSRS is 4% of your high 3. Of course, OPM
will look at any attempt the agency made to
accommodate you but the agency may say that they
cannot and the 4 year reduction is only because
you will not get credit for the 2 years under age
55 you will not be working so if you have 30 years you are looking at 56% of your high 3.

[This message was edited by postalwiz on July 07, 2008 at 07:01 PM.]
Caligirl  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, July 08, 2008 12:34:51 PM(UTC)
Caligirl

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Thanks for responding Kivi. My job does require travel to the facilities and programs for which I have contractual oversight responsibilities. If I don't travel to the sites to attend program/project reviews, strategic planning meetings, etc. then I don't see how I can adequately perform my oversight responsibilities. There are many of my responsibilities that I can perform from a distance however, I can review project and planning documents, hold tele and videoconference calls, review status reports, etc. I won't really know how far my organization will go to accomodate me until I ask, but I want to make sure that if the answer is negative that I am o.k. with retiring.
Caligirl  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, July 08, 2008 1:11:08 PM(UTC)
Caligirl

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Postalwiz - thanks for your good comments. O.K., I may not be thinking about this correctly, but my hight 3 has recently been calculated by my HR office as $111,000 and as you said at age 53 w/30 years I'd get 56%. I'm a GS-14, step 9 recently converted to paybanding and expect to get at least a 2% performance increase in Jan. 09. If I stay 2 more years until age 55, several of my lower salary figures drop off my high 3 computation and are replaced by larger numbers. At age 55 I project my high 3 to be $116,000 and at 60% that is quite a substantial increase (actually > $6,000) per year for the rest of my life. I realize that if I factor in the COLA's for two years as a retiree it narrows the gap somewhat. But still even $4,000 per year is $333.00 p/mo. How much is my health worth, right?

Anyway, you have helped me think this through a little more rationally, and I thank you for that. There is something you said that I didn't quite understand. You said "......and the offset from SS will only be applied if approved for SS disability". Does that mean that if I'm approved for disability under CSRS and NOT approved for SS disability that I will continue to receive the full CSRS disability and never have the SS offset? Do I still have to apply for SS when I reach 62? What if I find a physically less demanding job after leaving on a government disability and contribute more into SS, can I also draw SS when I'm eligible? I'm hoping that the disability retirement is not completely limiting and would not prevent me from ever working again if I can find a job I can physically do.

I really appreciate the discussion. Thanks again.
edalder  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, July 08, 2008 9:02:01 PM(UTC)
edalder

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is much harder to get than OPM disability. You will have to apply for same per OPM regulations. But, with SSA you must be disabled for ALL gainful employment. With OPM, you only need to establish that you cannot do your Federal job.

If SSA does not approve your claim, then you can receive OPM disability benefits with no offset for Social Security disability, if OPM approves your claim.

With OPM disability, you can earn up to 80% of your pre-disability wages. The rules about this one are much more restrictive with SSA.
Kivi
postalwiz  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, July 08, 2008 10:12:43 PM(UTC)
postalwiz

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This is kind of long, will try to shorten it.
If found disabled you will receive the first
year 60% of your high 3 average pay minus 100%
of any social security disability benefits to
which you are entitled.

After the first year and until age 62, if your disability prevents you from performing your job and you do not qualify for social security benefits your FERS disabiltiy will be reduced to 40% of your high 3.

If you do qualify for SS your FERS disability benefit will be reduced by 60% of the SS benefits
to which you are entitled. The resulting total
you receive from both FERS and SS will be at least 40% of your high 3 plus 40% of your SS
benefits.

If your earned annuity rate 1% X high 3 X years
of service is higher than the above rates after
the reduction for SS you will receive the higher
benefit.

When you reach 62 your disability benefit will
be recomputed. Essentially you will receive the annuity you would have received if you had not been disabled but had continued working until
age 62. For purposes of recomputation your average salary will be increased by all FERS cost-of-living adjustments that took effect while you were receiving a disability annuity.

If you are a disability retiree under age 60 and your total income from work in a calendar year
exceeds 80% of the current pay level of your
former job, the disability benefits will be discontinued. OPM can also require for you to provide proof periodically that you have not
recovered.

Now survivor and disability retirees do receive a COLA regardless of age; however you will not
receive one the first year year. Sorry if I made
any typos but I am going to give you my personal
input; if you have such a condition that is affecting your work and personal life take it
from one that waited a little too long to retire;
my hands are always in pain, I cannot drive long
distances and some days is hard to get moving;
go while you can enjoy some of your retirement but this is a personal decision and one that you
must make yourself. Maybe between your sick leave and annual leave holidays you can make
it the next two years; I would also look at
your agency reasonably accommodating you and as
at one time I used to travel very hard on your body. Good luck to you. Wink
edalder  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, July 09, 2008 10:58:48 PM(UTC)
edalder

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Postalwiz,

Your info is for FERS. If the original poster qualifies for a disability retirement, it will be based upon her years of service (most likely) with no age penalty for being under 55, but there will be some reduction of her CSRS disability benefits if she also qualifies for Social Security disability. The minimum benefit is 40% of the high three, but most CSRS people, including offset ones, have enough years of service that regular formula produces a better benefit.
Kivi
postalwiz  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, July 09, 2008 11:23:50 PM(UTC)
postalwiz

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Posts: 3,272

Anytime you have over 21 years and 11 months of service, your own service years are better
than the guaranteed minimum. I did not say
that she would get a discount if she wasn't
55; she will however if she does not work
until her retirement age of 55 with 30 years
of service and based on her age of 53, her
benefits will be based on what her age/
years of service and if she waits until 55
her computation will result on a 4% higher
annuity. An offset employee computation is
computed in the same manner as if they were
covered under CSRS only. It is reduced if and when the employee becomes eligible for Social
Security Benefit. If the employee is not entitled to SS benefits there is no offset unless
she is entitled to SS later; as for the
offset amount it also depends as to where
she falls in the formula for the offset formula
is as follows:

Two separate computations must be performed to establish the offset amount. The offset amount
equals the lesser of:

The difference between SS monthly benefit amount
with and without CSRS Offset service (service
after 12/3l/83 covered unthe the Interim CSRS
provisions or the CSRS offset provision or

The product of the social ssecurity monthly benefit amount with Federal earning multiplied by
a fraction where the numerator is the employee's
CSRS Offset service rounded to the nearest whole
number of years and the denominator is 40.

In general Kivi if she does not qualify for
SS benefits she will receive her disability
based on her 30 years of service with nothing
being taken away from her just like if she
was under CSRS and OPM has computation tables
in their web-site.
Caligirl  
#10 Posted : Monday, July 14, 2008 12:45:02 AM(UTC)
Caligirl

Rank: Newbie

Groups: Registered
Joined: 7/6/2008(UTC)
Posts: 4

Whew! This is complicated. I'm thinking now that if I really need to go, it might be best just to take an early out (my agency has EO authority almost continuously). I'm also concerned what will happen to me when I turn 62 and have to file SS (I'm CSRS-Offset). Will I still have a SS offset and therefore a reduced OPM check? Or will I not be able to draw SS at all? What if I work and pay into SS after I am disability retired from government, what happens when I go to draw SS?

Also, are there any benefits to retiring under disability (other than you don't take the 2% p/yr hit for being under age 55) like taxes, etc?
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