Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS, disability and Social Security

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Q. I am trying to understand the FERS disability retirement. My wife has 34 years of federal service but has not reached her MRA. I understand the high-3 and 60 percent the first year and then the 40 percent rule after 12 months and how it affects Social Security. If she applies now for FERS disability retirement and is approved, can she then go to Social Security and apply for her full disability entitlement? Also, if she receives her Social Security 100 percent disability entitlement within 12 months, how will her FERS retirement formulate? Will she still get 40 percent of her high-3 pay and 100 percent from Social Security?

A. If your wife applies for FERS disability retirement, she must also apply at the same time for a Social Security disability benefit. If she doesn’t, OPM won’t process her claim.

If she were approved for FERS disability retirement, for the first 12 months she would receive 60 percent of her high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. After that, and up to age 62, she’d receive 40 percent of her FERS disability benefit minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit. When she turned 62, her disability benefit would be converted to a regular FERS retirement benefit.

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