Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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Disability retirement

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Q. I have 25 years of service with the Postal Service. I am extremely ill and have been told by my doctor that I would need to consider disability retirement. My base pay is $57,000 per year. Could you please tell me what my disability retirement will be?

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VERA and disability retirement

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Q. My agency is offering Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. I have been approved for both. However, I have become disabled (chemo damaged my nerves, resulting in severe peripheral neuropathy). I thought I could leave via the early-out option for much needed relief and rest, then file for my federal disability.

My human resources department advised that, per the Office of Personnel Management, if I take the VERA, I cannot file for disability later, e.g. within one year.

I consulted with a lawyer, who specializes in federal disability retirement, and he advised that he has many clients who took the VERA option and later filed for disability within the one year.

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Disability retirement

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Q. I applied and was just approved for disability retirement, and I am waiting for them to determine my final benefits. I have received a check for back pay for $4,677.44 for six months from the day I retired. I understand they take 100 percent of Social Security Disability Insurance out the first year, but I did not receive SSDI payments during that period of back pay. I did not receive my first SSDI payment until Feb. 11. I have been off work due to illness since March 2013 and retired July 2013. I read that back pay starts from the last payday and was told by a benefits counselor that it starts from the day you retire. What is the correct answer?

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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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Disability retirement

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Q. I’m 52, and I’ve been on FERS disability retirement since I was 47. My minimum retirement age is 56. Is it true that they’ll stop withholding federal income taxes on my pension when I reach my MRA? Is it also true that I’ll be switched to regular retirement when I reach my MRA, and not when I reach 62?

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Buyout eligibility

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Q. If a person qualifies for a buyout, does the position have to qualify for it?

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Disability retirement

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Q. I have been receiving a FERS disability retirement annuity since November 2007. I am 60 years old. What will happen when I am 62 years old? Will I be able to draw my retirement without a penalty?

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Leave options for cancer diagnosis

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Q. I am completely out of annual leave and sick leave and have recently received a cancer diagnosis. My local human resources department has informed me of two options: voluntary leave transfer program and advance leave request. However, I don’t want to have to worry about losing my job, etc., and may not feel good enough to come back to my old job. What are my options? Are there any disability benefits available to me? What is early retirement for someone like me who is only 48 years old and has eight years of service with the Veterans Affairs Department?

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