Reg Jones Expert's View

If you are already eligible for an immediate annuity when you apply for disability retirement, OPM will usually treat your application as a request to retire on a regular annuity and process it accordingly.

Last week we looked at how disability benefits are calculated for CSRS employees, now let’s take a look at for those covered by FERS.

Annuity calculation if you are under age 62
If you are under age 62 and aren’t eligible to retire voluntarily, your disability annuity will be calculated as follows:

• For the first 12 months you’ll be paid 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit you are entitled to.
• After the first 12 months you’ll be paid 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit you are entitled to.

If you had fewer than three years of creditable service, your annuity would be based on the average of the salary you receiving from the day you entered service until the day you separated for disability retirement.

Note: If you are already eligible for an immediate annuity when you apply for disability retirement, OPM will usually treat your application as a request to retire on a regular annuity and process it accordingly.

Annuity calculation when you reach age 62
If you retire on disability before age 62, when you finally reach that age, your disability benefit will be recomputed as if you had worked to age 62. The time you were on the disability roll will be added to your earned service and the total multiplied by 0.01 percent, unless you have 20 years of creditable service (including your time on disability) and are at least 62 years old. If so, the multiplier would be increased to 0.011. The product of that calculation will be 1) multiplied by your high-3 on the day you went on disability retirement and 2) increased by all FERS COLAs that were paid out between that date and age 62.

Social Security
Because FERS employees are also covered by Social Security, you’ll need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time you apply for a FERS disability benefit. If you don’t, OPM won’t process your application.

COLAs
While you will be eligible for annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), regardless of the age at which you retire on disability, you won’t be entitled to receive the special retirement supplement, which approximates the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a FERS employee.

See more on federal disability retirement calculations at ask.FEDweek.com