So far I’ve written about the various types of retirements offered to employees who are otherwise hale and hearty. This time I want to take up the kind of retirement that’s available only to those who are no longer able to perform useful or efficient service in their job – disability retirement.
For both CSRS and FERS employees, the requirements to be granted disability retirement by OPM are the same. You are considered disabled when the information submitted by you, your agency, and your health provider establishes that 1) there is a service deficiency caused by disease or injury that has resulted in either unacceptable performance of critical elements of your job or the ability to perform at that level and 2) your conduct and attendance is unsatisfactory, to a point that were it to continue, you would be denied a within-grade increase, demoted or separated from the service.
After it is established to OPM’s satisfaction that the medical condition is at the heart of the problem and that the condition causing it is expected to last for at least one year, the way benefits are paid differs between CSRS and FERS.
As a CSRS employee, your annuity will be the higher of two figures:
* your earned annuity (a percentage based on your highest three years of average salary and your years of creditable service) or
* the guaranteed minimum disability annuity.
The guaranteed minimum annuity is the lower of 40 percent of your high-3 or the earned annuity you would get if your length of service was extended to age 60.
Because FERS employees are covered by both FERS and Social Security, if you apply to OPM for a disability annuity, you must also apply to the Social Security Administration. If you don’t, OPM won’t process your application.
If you are approved for FERS disability retirement, during your first year you would receive 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit to which you are entitled. After the first year and until age 62, you will receive 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security benefit. When you reach age 62, your FERS disability benefit will be recomputed as if you had worked to age 62.
CSRS and FERS
Until age 60 you would be required annually to provide information that you are still disabled. If you recover from your disability, your annuity will be terminated. It can be restored if your disability recurs.
If your disability continues but in a calendar year you earn from wages or self-employment more than 80 percent of the current salary of the position from which you retired, your annuity will be suspended. It can be restored if your earnings once again fall below that level.
As a disability annuitant, you would be eligible to receive annual cost-of-living increases regardless of your age.