Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Restoration of sick leave

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Q. I retired on FERS disability on Dec. 6, 2010, at age 53 with 21 years of federal service. I had 1,050 hours of sick leave. In May 2014, I returned to federal service in a virtual job that I work from home. OPM has not found me recovered.
1. Because my sick leave was not used in the calculation of my annuity (I retired under 62 years of age), should all my sick leave be restored?
2. The new hiring agency has offset my salary by my annuity and is deducting retirement. Should the agency use the old rate (.8 percent) or the new rate (4.4 percent), since my original hire date was in 1989?
3. What happens when I retire a second time? My agency tells me that I will get two annuity checks if I work less than five years and my retirement will be recalculated if I work more than five years? Read the rest of this entry »

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Disability retirement

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Q. I am an injured postal worker and I have many  conditions that  have accrued as a result of my past 12 years at the Postal Service carrying mail. I just met with the surgeon who did my last carpal tunnel surgery, and he told me that I should start exploring my options and consider medical retirement. Where do I begin to start the ball rolling and who do I need to get in contact with to help me through this difficult time?

A. Download a copy of Standard Form 3112 (Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement), available at www.opm.gov/forms. Take it to your personnel office, which is responsible for helping you complete the form and guide you through the application process.

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Disability retirement

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Q. I work for the Air Force, and I have 35 years of actual service under CSRS and I am 62. I have confirmed from OPM that I can apply for disability retirement within a year after retiring and start receiving annuity payments. I have had FEHB for only one year so the regular retirement will not allow me to keep FEHB (five-year rule). Can I apply for disability retirement before my regular retirement, or do I have to wait until after I retire to apply? Read the rest of this entry »

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Disability retirement

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Q. I’ve worked for 33 years under FERS but I’m to the point that I may have to go out on disability. Can I get my Social Security disability and my FERS disability? I’m 58 years old and a veteran. I’ve tried to understand what is on OPM, but I just want to know if I can get both? 

A. As a FERS employee, if you apply for disability retirement, you must also apply for Social Security disability benefits. If you don’t, OPM won’t process your application. If you are approved for both disability retirement and SSDI, for the first 12 months, you’ll receive 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of your Social Security disability benefit. After the first 12 months and up to age 62, you’ll receive 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of your Social Security disability benefit.

 

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FERS disability

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Q. I have 31 years in FERS, including seven years military buyback. I have an MRA of 58. I am 80 percent service connected VA. I am having issues doing my job due to service-connected and other disabilities acquired during my employment. Can I collect 100 percent unemployment and still retire FERS or do I have to file FERS disability? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability and SSDI payments

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Q. I retired with FERS disability and was also approved for SSDI. I am receiving checks from both places, and I do not know if this is the way it normally is because in my FERS retirement benefits book, it appears that they have taken the Social Security payments into account. I called the Social Security Administration to let them know that I was approved through the Office of Personnel Management, and I sent the paperwork given to me from SSA to the folks at OPM. Will I continue to get a check from each, as it equals 60 percent of my high-3, or do I need to try to call someone again? Read the rest of this entry »

Disability retirement eligibility

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Q. A little over two years ago I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Chemo treatments twice monthly have rendered it increasingly difficult to perform my job in an acceptable manner. On the advice of my doctors and with the support of my supervisor and agency, I am applying for disability retirement. I have almost 22 years with the federal government, and I am under FERS. I submitted my application to the Social Security Administration and was immediately advised that I was not eligible because 1) I am still working; and 2) I make more than $1,000 per week. I must work in order to keep my health insurance. Sick leave balances are quickly being exhausted. Please advise if this initial decision is, in fact, correct. Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement bonus due to disability?

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Q. I am a 63-year-old city letter carrier with 25 years of service with the USPS and an additional two years with the Army. In 1997, I was injured on the job from a dog attack while delivering mail and was given a 10 percent permanent disability. Soon after the injury, a fellow worker suggested that I was entitled to a bonus in my retirement payment due to my injury, and I was wondering if he was correct. I plan on working until I am 66 for a full Social Security benefit with a full 30 years combined postal retirement. Can you give me information regarding this?

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Reinstatement after retirement

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Q. I retired in January with 38.4 years of Postal Service EAS service, too early. In February, my doctor changed my blood pressure medication, and it was like the fog had lifted. I realized I made the biggest mistake of my life. I’ve called Shared Services, OPM, our human resources department multiple times for reinstatement with the same response of no, except one person from OPM indicating I could return and suspend my retirement. I am desperate. Using the medication sounds like a poor excuse except for the fact that my actions were so out of character for me. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »