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If you are no longer able to do your work in a productive manner and are a current federal employee or just departed from your agency within the previous year, you may be eligible for federal disability compensation. It is crucial to know if you qualify when to apply, and what steps you need to do to obtain these benefits. You must meet a few conditions laid out by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to be eligible for the Federal Employees Retirement System (or “FERS”). Some of those conditions include:
· Having completed at least 18 months of work creditable under the FERS.
· Becoming incapacitated while working as a result of an illness or sickness that makes it impossible for you to give “useful and efficient service” in your existing job.
· Having your agency certify that they are unable to accommodate your impairment and that you will not be reassigned to another position within the same agency or at the same pay grade.
· You must anticipate your handicap to persist longer than a year.
· You or your guardian must file a disability retirement application with your agency or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) during the first year of your departure from service.
· You must apply for disability compensation from the Social Security Administration.
It is crucial to understand that your disability does not have to be the result of a work-related accident or illness. Furthermore, you do not need to be accepted for social security benefits to qualify for FERS disability retirement payments.
If you meet the aforementioned criteria, you must fill out an SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, and an SF 3112, Documentation In Support Of Disability Retirement. While your agency can assist you in filling out these forms and sending them to OPM, you will be responsible for providing the needed evidence and paperwork.
If you want to file for disability benefits, keep in mind that you must move quickly. As previously stated, your application must be received by OPM within the first year of your separation date. Delaying your application might cause issues at your agency since you will not have access to your personnel records in time to submit the application. It is usually a good idea to submit your application to OPM directly rather than going via your agency.
If your application is approved, OPM will send you your final retirement record, and your agency will confirm your separation date. In order to continue receiving benefits, OPM may need you to give periodic medical updates on your condition. If a medical examination is required to obtain such updates, you will be responsible for the costs of those tests. If you fail to produce the requisite proof, your disability payments may be suspended until you do. Your benefits may be canceled if you are deemed to be healthy or no longer get regular medical care.
If your application is denied, you have thirty (30) days to request a reconsideration, during which time you can supply new or updated documentation to your file. You have the right to have your case reviewed by an Administrative Judge of the Merit Systems Protection Board if the resultant judgment still denies you FERS disability retirement benefits.
While the FERS disability program is intended to assist federal employees, it may be challenging to manage and keep track of the necessary documents and timelines. It may be beneficial to talk with an experienced federal employment lawyer who can help you through the procedure and represent you if your application is refused.
Tully Rinckey PLLC is one of the nation’s largest federal sector labor and employment, security clearance, and military law firms, serving clients across the U.S. Our knowledgeable, resourceful, and trial-tested attorneys provide counsel and tenacious representation to help you achieve success. Whether your legal needs involve the day-to-day operations of a multinational corporation or a personal legal matter, we’re there for you, fighting aggressively to protect your interests. For more information or to schedule a consultation with a Tully Rinckey attorney, please call (888) 529-4543, or visit https://www.tullylegal.com/.