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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VA disability and FERS medical

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Q. I am a civilian FERS employee who received a work related injury.  Right now, I’m in the process of buying back my active military service (four years).  My injury is one that may eventually put me out on FERS medical retirement.  Can I collect federal medical retirement and VA disability?  Would it be beneficial for me to stop my military buyback? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability and buyout retirement

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Q. I received an “early-out/buyout” in 2005 with 24 years (FERS) of service prior to my minimum retirement age. I was age 46 at the time. I am currently receiving social security disability income. Will I be eligible to receive a FERS annuity once I reach my minimum retirement age (MRA)? Will I still be able to collect social security disability income? Or if when I reach my MRA, can I collect the FERS Special Supplement and the social security disability income?

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FERS disability for term employee

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Q. My husband is a helicopter maintenance instructor on a term-appointment due to expire Dec. 31, 2014. He was taken out from his position as a primary instructor and put in the an assistant instructor position due to memory problems that are affecting his ability to teach and do proper fixes on the aircraft. His supervisor recommended in a counseling statement that he seek medical attention to identify any issues. He has been recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and excruciating face pain. He will meet the MRA + 10 retirements in August of this year (all term appointment time) but that provides very little in way of an annuity. Is he eligible to apply for FERS retirement disability? Does he have to apply for Social Security first? He is retired military but receives no disability benefits from the Army or VA. Read the rest of this entry »

Disability retirement conversion to other retirement

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Q. I was retired on CSRS disability with 30 years of service at age 52. OPM has sent me a letter that I have made too much money for 2010 through 2012. I would have been eligible for full retirement in July 2009 (and will be age 60 in July 2014). What are my options? Can I convert to full retirement or discontinued service retirement? Can I do this retroactively to 2009? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS and Social Security disability

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Q. My husband was retired from active military at 100 percent disability for a line of duty illness. He also has a FERS pension that is currently at 60 percent the first year and 40 percent for all the rest. They required him to file for Social Security disability, which he was denied. We have received notice from FERS asking him to re-apply for Social Security disability. I’m sure this will affect his FERS pension, however I have been unable to get an answer as to how.

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Disability annuity after 62

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Q. I retired as of 1/31/14 from USPS. I turned 62, and they told me that I would be unable to collect disability retirement because of my age. After having surgery on both hands, I was designated 30 percent impaired in both hands, job related. The Department of Labor is paying me a schedule award. I have signed up for Social Security. Is this true that I cannot collect disability? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability vs. early retirement

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Q. I am 51 years old and have suffered a stroke. I realize I could probably apply for FERS disability retirement, but I have a dilemma. I am buying back my military service time, but I have about five years to buy it all back. Which is better to apply for disability retirement or regular early retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB re-enrollment after disability

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Q. I have been approved for Federal Retirement Disability after having applied for it almost 15 months ago. I am receiving interim payments. I was separated from my federal position before I applied and could not afford to pay for COBRA benefits during the time I waited to be approved. When could I anticipate receiving my health insurance benefits back? How will they calculate my portion of the health insurance premium? Read the rest of this entry »

Qualifying for disability

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Q. I’m 47 and have been at my job for 28 years. I’ve been off work for nine months for major surgery on my shoulder. The doctor says I’ll never have full range again. Chances are I’m not gonna be able to perform my job. I’ve also suffered from severe depression for years with suicidal tendencies. I take medication for this and see a psychiatrist. Do I qualify for disability retirement? My shoulder, arm and strength will never be the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Dual status federal technician facing MEB

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Q. I am a dual status federal technician in the National Guard facing a Non-Duty Related Medical Board.  I am 51 years of age with 11 years of active duty time that I bought back, so now I have just over 20 years guard time for points and fed tech time for retirement.  I was told that since I’m over 50 with 20 years of creditable service that I would not get a disability retirement on the technician side with or without the medical evaluation board.  Is this true, or am I still eligible for disability retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability and retirement

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Q. I am 50 years old. I did six years active duty which I have not paid back to get credit, and I have 24 years civil service.  I had a heart  attack two years ago. I have a stint and  defibrillator, but I am able to  work.  There is no way my boss would give me a positive disability letter. I have a little different outlook on life now. I’d like to travel, etc.  Luckily, I have a few hundred thousand in my Thrift Savings Plan. What are my retirement options, if any, right now?  I know I have no leave and need to somehow buy back my military time.  Is it even possible to retire?  If I could even get disability, would buying back my military time add to my retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS retirement

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Q. I am a CSRS covered Title 32 Technician with 30 years’ service.  I am being involuntarily separated militarily due to failure to pass the PT test.  Due to the loss of my military status in the National Guard, I will also lose my technician position.  I am 53 years old.  Can I retire under CSRS and collect my retirement annuity immediately (with a penalty) or do I have to wait? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS and SS disability

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Q. Will my regular FERS retirement, when it exceeds FERS disability, be converted from disability to retirement?  Since I am on FERS disability, my tenure continues to run.  How will the supplemental SS portion of my FERS retirement be affected by the SSDI payment?  SSDI does not change until I recover or reach 65. Read the rest of this entry »

CSRS and Social Security disability

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Q. I was a federal worker covered by CSRS from 1975 to 1989. On leaving, I left my deposits there in the hope I would return. I did not, but I joined the reserves and worked the private sector.

In 2008, I was discharged from the military. I was 53 when discharged.  I am considered unemployable by the VA and also receive Social Security Disability benefits.  There was a big hole in my Social Security deposit sheet the years I worked for the federal government and therefore receive a reduced SS  disability benefit.

Since I am considered disabled currently, am I eligible for an offset or do I have to wait till I am 62? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS disability payments and SS

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Q. I’m 53 and on disability retirement under FERS.  Upon reaching Social Security recipient age, will my FERS disability payment end so I’ll only receive my regular Social Security payment? Read the rest of this entry »

When to retire on disability

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Q. I am 62 and have 7 years of service under FERS. My disabilities have worsened, and I must retire fairly soon.  I have some other income from a state pension that will help while I apply for SSDI, but I need to know when would be the best time to retire.  I do not believe my retirement will amount to more than enough to cover my life and health insurance with a little to spare according to a recent retirement estimate I received from HR.  So given that, is there a particular day of the month, being paid bi-weekly, when I should set for my retirement date? Read the rest of this entry »

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? Read the rest of this entry »

Processes for disability retirement

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Q. I’m a 37 year old federal law enforcement agent Series 1811.  I have a medical condition that has affected my vision and likely cannot be corrected to the standards required by my agency without lengthy, involved treatment. Even though my eyesight has never affected my job, I qualify expert with my weapon and they are sending me to firearms instructor training, even as they say my eyesight is horrible.  If in fact, the doctors tell me that I can’t correct my eyesight enough, will my agency force me into medical retirement?  Can they give me another job?  Do they have to keep paying me at my current pay rate?  I’m a GS-12 with 15+ years combined federal service and active military time (which I have bought back).

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Forced retirement due to disability

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Q. My husband has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. His doctors believe he was affected at least three years prior to retirement. Several of his colleagues knew something was wrong. They informed me he was forced to retire. His supervisor forced his retirement. His doctor knows he should have retired based on disability. How can I proceed?

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