By Reg Jones
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?
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?
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?
Q. Do I have to pay taxes on my annuity if I went off work on disability retirement?
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?
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?
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).”
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?
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?
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?
Q. I work part time while on federal service. If approved for FERS disability retirement, I understand I can earn up to 80 percent of what was being earned by federal service. Does this take into account military retirement annuity, present earnings from my part-time job performed from home and the amount of the disability annuity? What is taken into account in determining wages/self-employment to ascertain reaching the 80 percent authorized amount?
Q. If a federal employee is eligible for retirement under both FERS and Social Security disability, can that employee, once retired, still work and earn up to $1,000 or $1,100 per month (whatever the maximum is), which is what an SSDI recipient may earn without jeopardizing his or her SSDI benefits?
Q. I served in the Army from June 1975 to July 1978 (three years). I started working for the Postal Service in June 1985 for a total of 28.5 years. I have applied for disability retirement (FERS). I would like to buy back my military years, thus I requested the RI 20-97 and have sent it out with my DD-214 and am waiting. Can I buy these years now in the middle of this disability retirement process? If so, how would this delay or hurt the process?
Q. A friend of mine left his federal job due to a knee injury. He says he hurt his knee on the job (I believe this is documented). He has been unemployed for about three years and collects Social Security benefits due to the knee injury. He did not know to put in for federal disability retirement. At this point, is there anything he can do to receive something from the government?
Q. I have been recently awarded disability as a FERS law enforcement officer. Will my disability be canceled when I hit my minimum retirement age, or will it continue until I am 62 or have recovered, whichever is first?
Q. My SF-50 Block 30 is coded as a C (FICA and CSRS (Partial)). I would like more information about my current retirement status. How would I determine the amount of my deposit into my CSRS before I retire? (When I left government, I took a refund of my CSRS contributions.) If the whole amount is paid back, would I get my retirement with full benefits?
Also, what would happen if I leave the federal government because of medical condition (disability) before I retire? How would that affect my disability amount if the redeposit is not fully paid? Would that put me in partial disability status?
Q. I’m a 66-year-old FERS employee. I have 33 years of creditable service and have paid back seven years of military service. I can retire with a disability. I have rheumatoid arthritis and take chemotherapy. Which will earn me more retirement money: retire with a disability or regular retirement?
Q. Two years ago, I had applied for disability retirement based on my medical inability to perform the duties of my job. While my application was pending, my agency located another position which fully accommodated my medical condition. I formally withdrew my application as a result of this accommodation.
My medical condition has progressively worsened over the past two years, and I am now becoming unable to perform the duties of my current position. Is it possible to reapply for disability retirement? If so, does the entire process need to be redone, or can I contact the case worker who was working on my original application with updated medical documentation? Will they look at my prior application if I need to start from scratch, or would I need to resend all of the prior medical documentation that was already sent?
Q. I work for the Postal Service and am thinking about applying for disability retirement, but I’m not sure they approve it for severe migraine headaches. How do I apply for it?
Q. I am 46 years old and coming up on 23 years of federal law enforcement service. Under our retirement calendar, we must retire at age 57. I could retire voluntarily at 49 with 25 years of service. I am considering a disability retirement due to a recent injury that has left my body, which has had many prior on-the-job injuries, racked with pain, and I can no longer perform my job.
Will the following years that will count into my federal total time in service, once on disability retirement, continue until my 57th or 62nd birthday under normal retirement age limits? Does this mean that it would add 10 years of credit to my total time in at age 57? Wouldn’t that put my percentage of my high-3 average at or above 50 percent since I believe we are credited at the rate of 1.1 percent per year? Adding in the special Social Security annuity that we start receiving upon retirement from federal law enforcement, is this completely taken out of our monthly payment for the disability retirement during the first year? Or is that Social Security disability that I must apply for as part of the disability retirement process that is taken out for the first year? Are they the same thing or two different Social Security payments?