Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

VA disability and FERS benefits

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Q. I am considering filing for VA disability for a military injury that occurred in a parachute jump during airborne training.  This was 22 years ago.  I did have a severely broken ankle requiring surgery.  Now I have arthritis in that ankle as well as severe knee degenerative joint disease that may require knee replacement in the same leg.

I have some concerns:

1.  I never retired from active duty.  I will receive a reserve retirement at age 60, however.  I never applied for military disability retirement (was doing OK at that time).

2.  I joined the federal service and “bought back” my military years for FERS credit (19 years).  Did over 5 yrs in Veterans Affairs, so I became eligible for a deferred FERS retirement that I will elect to take at 60.  Evidently, I can collect both reserve retirement and FERS without any reduction in either (I verified this).

3.  If I apply for VA disability benefits (I am 50), and they are granted, will any reduction occur to either military or FERS retirement benefits?  Would I lose either?

4.  How does having an injury during “hazardous duty” affect me personally in terms of benefits?

A. Receiving VA disability benefits would have no affect on your FERS deferred retirement. Having an injury during “hazardous duty” would have no bearing on your civilian benefits. Whether it would have some affect on your military benefits is something only your former branch of service or the VA can answer.

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