Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS disability retirement

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Q. I have eight years of active service in the Army. I am not retired from the Army. I do not get Social Security. I made the post-56 deposit lump sum before the interest date. I have 10 years’ civil service with the Department of the Army. I was retired for disability March 12, 2010. OPM recently sent my retirement packet — two years and four months later. The packet doesn’t include my military service in the time-in-service computation or the $3,640 paid in to the contribution dollar amount of annuity. My annuity is much less than estimated due to this, I believe. Had I continued service, I would have been eligible to retire at 56½ with full benefits and received more annuity for the pre-Social Security years.

OPM’s customer service stated you don’t get credit for service on disability retirement under FERS until age 62. My understanding is the FERS buyback doesn’t affect annuity after Social Security age and is always included as service.

Is this correct? Should my military buyback time be in the disability annuity computation after the first year of disability? If not, where does the money go that I paid in? Am I entitled to a refund? If I won’t realize any benefit from this deposit due to Social Security offset, something is amiss here; please advise.

A. FERS disability retirement benefits are based on a simple formula, which doesn’t include years of service. As a disability annuitant, you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit to which you were entitled. After the first 12 months, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefits. At 62, your disability annuity would be converted to a regular annuity as if you had continued working. At that point, the deposit you made to get credit for active-duty service would be added onto your actual service and time spent on the disability roll and computed using the standard FERS formula.

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