Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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Workers’ compensation

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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?

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FERS disability retirement

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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?

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FERS and Social Security disability

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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?

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Military buyback and disability retirement

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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?

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Disability retirement

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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?

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FERS disability

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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?

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FICA and CSRS (partial)

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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?

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FERS disability retirement

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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?

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