Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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Disability retirement and law enforcement

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Q. I am receiving disability benefits. I am 49 years old and a former Customs and Border Protection officer. I was basically forced to retire when I became injured, and the agency informed me I was not suitable to be an officer, and they offered me a secretarial job. The agency asserted that I could no longer fulfill my job as a CBP officer notating the job description for 6(c) coverage. I am wondering if I should be entitled to 6(c) retirement under disability or regular retirement?

Before 6(c) was authorized, I was already performing the same duties just without the title. Furthermore, the agency even provided me with a description of a CBP 6(c) officer when they rejected any other law enforcement position for me.

Additionally, if I am found medically recuperated from my injury, does CBP have an obligation to place me back as an officer or supervisor?

Isn’t there a minimum age? I retired at age 44 with 19 years of federal service. I have been on disability for five years. Would they hire me again at age 49 or 50 in a 6(c) law enforcement position? If not, why does the Office of Personnel Management continue to send periodic medical evaluations?

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CSRS Offset and SSI disability

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Q. I retired Oct. 2, 2007, on CSRS Offset at age 56 with 31 years in. From 1977 to 1991, no Social Security insurance was taken out of my pay. I left the Postal Service in 1991. When I came back in 1994, I was placed in CSRS Offset. After retiring in 2007, I went to work for Home Depot at age 61. I went on SSI disability. At age 62 in October, SSI sent me a letter stating my payment is reduced because of offset. Is this correct? Even though I’m on SSI disability?

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Disability retirement and SRS

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Q. I retired under the FERS disability provisions 16 years ago. I want to find out what portion of my monthly retirement benefit represents the special retirement supplement portion. At the time of my retirement, I had 16 years of creditable service. I am receiving about $1,900 per month, and I believe my calculation at age 62 would be times 1.1 percent. I will not be eligible for Social Security until age 62 and one month. Will I lose the supplement for one month?

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Disability retirement vs. regular retirement

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Q. I’m a letter carrier with 32 years of federal service under FERS. I have 2½ years to go before I meet my minimum retirement age. I’m considering disability retirement because my health has been keeping me from work. What will I lose or gain (pros and cons) between regular retirement and disability retirement. Which is stronger financially?

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Deferred retirement vs. disability retirement

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Q. I am a 51-year old FERS employee with 28 years of service. Because of my declining health, I plan to resign and take a deferred retirement. With more than 20 years of service under FERS, I can begin receiving a deferred annuity at age 60. Can I receive a reduced annuity at age 56, my minimum retirement age? If so, will the reduction be 20 percent or 30 percent? In other words, will I be penalized 20 percent (5 percent per year for four years) between the ages of 56 and 60, or 30 percent for the six years between the ages of 56 and 62?

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Military buyback refund

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Q. I was recently awarded a 40 percent military disability retirement retroactively back to 2005. I am a federal employee who previously paid more than $8,000 to buy back my military service time toward FERS retirement. Now that I am a military retiree, I am not eligible to buyback my military time. My human resources point of contact said the military buyback cannot be refunded until separation or FERS retirement. Can I receive a refund of the $8,000 military deposit prior to my FERS retirement?

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Disability retirement and taxes

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Q. Do I have to pay taxes on my annuity if I went off work on disability retirement?

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Recomputing disability retirement

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Q. I understand that they recompute your disability retirement at 62 years old. Does the amount one gets at 62 generally stay the same, go up or go down? What about cost-of-living adjustments under FERS? Do they recompute other agencies you also have worked before Postal Service time?

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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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Disability retirement

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Q. I am a dual status technician. I have 27 years of federal service. I am being put out of the military on a disability retirement due to a service-connected medical issue. I am 50 years old. Will I be able to collect my military disability and also receive my fed tech retirement? I noticed on my 199 Form that it has the following statement in Section V: “The disability disposition is not based on disease or injury incurred in the line of duty in Combat with and enemy of the US and as a direct result of armed conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war (5 USC 8332, 3502, and 6303).”

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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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SSDI and special retirement supplement

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Q. I retired under a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority in January 2009. I was also approved for Social Security disability in 2008. I’ve had 22 years under FERS, and I’m now 58. Should I have been receiving the special retirement supplement since I never applied for FERS disability?

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