Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Voluntary FERS retirement and OWCP

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Q. I’m currently receiving Worker’s Comp. payments for a work related knee injury in July 2012. I’ve had two surgeries and tried numerous physical therapy sessions and the problem has only worsened. I’m in pain all the time. I haven’t returned to work since my injury. I told my doctor that I couldn’t keep up the therapy because it was too painful. My agency required a medical answer from my surgeon as to whether I was able to do anything. He stated that I was permanently incapacitated at this time. I was surprised my agency hadn’t separated me, and I was still on leave without pay. I told my doctor, boss and agency, I didn’t see any other way but to retire. I’m 57 with 17 years under FERS. If I take an immediate retirement, MRA + 10. Can I elect to continue my OWCP payments in leu of my OPM annuity until my injury is resolved through additional surgery i.e. knee replacement? Or, do I lose the compensation?

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OWCP and FERS disability retirement

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Q. I was approved for FERS disability retirement but remained on Worker’s Comp. and yet to take the FERS disability retirement. I had 18 1/2 years at air traffic control. When I reach age 62 and the FERS is recalculated, is the time on OWCP counted for that calculation? Read the rest of this entry »

Workers’ comp and retirement

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Q. My father was recently told he can no longer work. He is 62. The damage and arthritis in his hands is getting worse and he needs to file for workers’ compensation. The doctor also recommended early retirement. Can he file both? Should he do one or the other first to maximize his benefits since this was not anticipated?

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Workers’ compensation and annuity

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Q. I was a postal worker for 12 years when I was injured on the job in 2001 and am now collecting workers’ compensation. Would I receive any retirement benefits at age 65?

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Workers’ comp and creditable service

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Q. How does time spent on workers’ compensation for full and partial disability count toward CSRS retirement? I was injured after 13 years of civil service, was fully disabled two years, partially disabled (25 percent) for 10 years, and returned to work from 2003 to the present. To calculate CSRS Offset retirement, do the two years on full disability count as two years creditable service? Do the 10 years on 25 percent partial disability count as 10 years or 2½ years creditable service?

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Filing a claim due to injury

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Q. I will be eligible for retirement in approximately 14 months. Early on in my career, I injured both of my knee on different occasions. My knee bothers me to this day. Is there a way to file a claim for service-connected injuries similar to what is available when exiting the military? If so, where can I find more information?

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Workers’ compensation

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Q. I am on leave without pay and Department of Labor workers’ compensation due to an injury which occurred on duty as a federal agent. I had surgery 16 months ago. I am still having issues that prevent me from returning to work at this time. I am undergoing physical therapy and pain management. Doctors are recommending more surgeries, epidural treatments, PT, etc. Keeping in mind that additional surgeries and epidurals may not be beneficial and come with additional risks, do I have to take the doctors’ recommendations?  Do I have the option to say I have had enough poking and prodding? Can I remain indefinitely on workers’ comp and call it quits? If so, what should I do? I have been told that as far as an agent position, there are no “desk jobs.” Do I have to apply for other benefits?

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Unused sick leave

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Q. I am 61 years old. I will have 30 years with the Postal Service on April 9. I have 735 hours of unused sick leave on the books. I am on workers’ compensation, still a USPS employee and on leave without pay. Can I retire (NOT disability retirement) right now and use my unused sick leave hours to reach to my full 30-year retirement date of April 9?

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Disability retirement and SRS

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Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer. I have an accepted workers’ compensation claim, and it appears that I am no longer physically able to perform the duties of my job. I do not appear to be completely disabled, so I probably can’t get Office of Workers’ Compensation Program disability.

I am four years short of being eligible for the minimum needed for enhanced law enforcement retirement.

If I obtain an Office of Personnel Management disability annuity, am I eligible to obtain the special retirement supplement until age 62?

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File for disability retirement and SSDI?

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Q. I am a disabled veteran. I was employed by the Postal Service for almost 10 years. I was injured in 2011, the result of a previous ankle sprain. I was approved for workers’ compensation and have received benefits for the past two years.

Recently, I received a letter stating that my employer USPS will separate me via disability separation. If they do, should I apply for increased veteran benefits or Social Security disability? What laws should protect me from being separated?

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Workers’ compensation and annuity computation

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Q. I am a GS 1811, injured in the line of duty in 2002. I have been collecting workers’ compensation for the past 12 years.

Prior to my injury, I had 12 years 1811 time. I bought back all of my active-duty military time back (6.8 years).

I am in FERS. I know that, as an 1811, my annual pension is 1.7 percent. Does my time on workers’ compensation also count toward 1811 time? I know my military time is calculated at 1.0 percent.

Assuming that the compensation counts toward government service, I would have 24 years at 1.7 percent = 40.8 percent, plus the military time of 6.8 percent. The total would be 47.6 percent. Is this correct?

The Department of Labor is trying to send my back to work in “light duty capacity.” I will be 65 years old at the end of the year. Will I also collect my Social Security at the rate for a 65-year-old? I worked in a local police department for 22 years and was grandfathered into the 1811 position.

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Workers’ compensation and creditable service

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Q. I was injured early in my federal career after 9½ years in public service at the state level. My workers’ compensation was approved, and I spent two years on OWCP (June 2004 to June 2006) before I was able to return to work. I worked part time for two years in the interim (2007-09, private sector) before locating a new federal position. Because the injury resulted in permanent disability and I couldn’t go back to my original job, I returned in a different GS series. Can the two years I spent on OWCP be credited toward my federal service time for the purpose of calculating my total time in federal service? Additionally, is there any way to buy/rollover/consolidate my state-level public service time into my federal time?

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Workers’ comp terminated — re-apply for former position?

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Q. I have been drawing workers’ compensation for seven years. Several years back, my wife sold some pups and I failed to turn it in as income. I entered a plea to three felonies. I was told by my court-appointed attorney that my supervisor position for the Postal Service should be made available for my return to work where the previous injury occurred. Is this the case? How should I approach my former employer about my job?

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Workers’ compensation

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Q. I have been receiving workers’ compensation since 1977 as a partially permanently disabled person. Four years ago, I started getting Social Security disability, so the two combined is still not much. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs sent me a letter that my workers’ comp check may be reduced because I am turning 62. I only get $400 from them and my SSD amount is not changing, as it is just going to be called Social Security now instead of SSD. Same amount of stipend, so why are they taking away what little bit I get? Nothing has changed except my age.

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Earning leave while on workers’ comp

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Q. I have an occupational illness. It was not originally accepted, and my employer had me on leave without pay due to an inability for find work within my restrictions. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has since accepted my claim, and my employer has found work for me. Now that my claim has been accepted and back compensation has been approved for that time, was I supposed to earn leave during the 10 months I was off and on OWCP due to employer inability to find work within my restrictions?

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Social Security disability, FERS disability and workers’ comp

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Q. My husband is a government worker under FERS. He filed for Social Security disability and received his first check on Sept. 28 for August 2013. He was told that his FERS disability retirement of $3,114 would be reduced by 100 percent because he is receiving SSD. What does that mean? Would his SSD of $2,092 also be reduced? If he is awarded workers’ compensation, can he elect to receive that and stop the FERS disability and the Social Security disability?

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Workers’ comp + Social Security disability?

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Q. Can you draw both workers’ comp and Social Security disability? I am a FERS employee who was put on Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs rolls because no work is available to me due to my work restrictions. Is there a penalty during both? Is either one taxable? Or am I forced to drop workers’ comp? And how does this affect me with my Veterans Affairs Department disabilities?

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Workers’ compensation

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Q. My husband has been receiving workers’ compensation benefits since 1993. Every year, we fill out the questionnaire sent to him regarding if he has worked in the past 15 months, etc. These forms also require a yearly medical exam and a narrative written by the physician. No problem there. We fill out the forms and my husband goes to the doctor. This year, when we got the forms in the mail, they were the same forms we’ve been getting every year except that at the top of the form, under his case file number, it has an OMB number and an expiration date in 2014. What does that mean?

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Workers’ compensation

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Q. I have been on workers’ compensation since 1991. How long can I remain on it? I am 64 years old.

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OWCP vs. OPM

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Q. I am receiving workers’ compensation benefits through the Postal Service. I am considering the switch from OWCP to OPM (FERS). My concern is that I have been on OWCP since 1997 and am worried that all my cost-of-living adjustments would somehow not roll over and be figured into the Office of Personnel Management payments. Is there a way to get an accurate calculation of what my current benefits with OPM would be so that I can make an informed decision rather than trying to guess-timate? I called OPM and they told me they thought that the payments would be based on my high-3 at the time of separation. I am 56 years old.

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