Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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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Re-employment after disability retirement

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Q. I was removed from my agency due to becoming “Medically Unqualified” after 4 years, 9 months under FERS and given disability retirement in 2007. I am considering returning to federal service with a job at the Defense Department. With the disability retirement, I understand that if I maintain the retirement until I am age 62, the time I was on disability retirement would count as time in service for computing my regular retirement. Does that mean the time I have been a disability annuitant will count as service time for a new federal job? Would I/could I buy back the time? I understand my annuity will cease on the date of re-employment. 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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Disability annuity and continued federal employment

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Q. Since I started receiving a FERS disability annuity, I have worked while still receiving the annuity. What percent of my federal service salary can I earn without losing my annuity? (It was 60 percent or so.)

I was a GS-855-12 step 2. What is the current salary for that position (GS schedules are easy to find, but not GS-855 salary schedules showing their higher rates of pay)?

Do I still lose my disability annuity if I return to work for the federal government as a teacher at an overseas military base? (It used to be that returning to work for the federal government would automatically end the disability annuity.)

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Employment and military retired pay

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Q. I retired as a CWO-3 (USMC) after serving 21 years. I am receiving retirement pay and received a 20 percent disability rating from the Veterans Affairs Department and get payments from VA. If I take a position with a federal agency, will I lose any of my military retirement?

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FERS, military service and disability

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Q. I’m 51 with 27 years of technician service in the Army National Guard and may be medically disqualified on the military side of the house. I’m wondering if this falls under the FERS discontinued service retirement formula or if it would be a FERS disability retirement and fall under the formula of 60 percent the first year and 40 percent after that.

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Multiple sources of retirement money

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Q. I am a retired officer with 27 years of active military service and am receiving military retirement pay. I am also getting VA disability pay. I also have been working for the federal government for five years. If I retire, can I collect all three payments: military, VA disability and FERS?

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Disability retirement

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Q. I am a former federal employee (canine enforcement officer) who was injured on the job in 1999. I was placed on COP and then on the periodic rolls of the Department of Labor. After a year of physical rehab, my doctor released me to light duty, for which the US Customs Service had no jobs available to me.

I was terminated in 2000. I am still being paid by the DOL. I was recently sent by DOL to a doctor to evaluate my condition, and the doctor determined that my status is permanent at the sedentary level. I am now working with a vocational rehabilitation counselor assigned by the DOL. Am I eligible to apply for a FERS disability retirement?

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Social Security disability and CSRS retirement

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Q. I started getting Postal Service and Social Security disability in 1994. I am in CSRS Offset, not FERS.

I started a job, and they stopped my Social Security disability because my earnings were substantial. I am 65.

I applied for Social Security, since I will be 66 in July. My Social Security is 30 percent less than I received under Social Security disability. The clerk at Social Security said they had been paying me too much disability each month, but since it had been more than four years since the error on their part, they would not try to recover the overpayment. My problem is I am not able to do the job; my disability has caused me to get two warnings that I am underperforming. I am close to being fired. Since I have a ticket to work, my Social Security disability can be restarted without my having to reapply. Do you know if they will start me at my old amount without the 30 percent reduction?

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Disability retirement and FERS annuity

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Q. I retired on disability in June 2011 because of multiple health issues. Is the annuity I receive now from my FERS contributions (made since 1991)? I never applied for FERS contributions.

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USPS employment and medical coverage in retirement

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Q. I’m 54 and just hit my sixth year of service at the USPS. I’m at tractor-trailer operator under the MVS craft. How many years would I need and at what age would I qualify for medical retirement?

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Retirement and insurance with more than 30 years in CSRS

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Q. I am 55 with 36 years of federal employment, including two one-year breaks in service. The last break was in 1985. I withdrew the funds I had paid into CSRS each time I broke service and have repaid a minimal amount of it. I thought I would be one of those people who worked forever; however, I have a progressively degenerative medical condition and likely will not be able to work more than another year at the most. I am totally ignorant about retirement and to what benefits I am entitled. For example, will my pension benefits be reduced because I am retiring early? Do I continue to pay the same health insurance rates once I retire until I become eligible for Medicare? Will my health benefits remain the same until I become eligible for Medicare? I used the pension calculator and am more confused. For example, I calculated using the percentage for the first five years and the different percentage for the next five years, and then the 2 percent for the remaining years past 10. Is this the amount plus interest, plus matching funds what I pay into CSRS from my paycheck, or do I have to do yet other calculations? I have requested a meeting with my HR department, but it has to wait until it receives information for payroll and tells me it will be weeks before I can get a meeting. My neurosurgeon and neurologist are telling me I should consider retiring immediately, but I need to make this major decision as knowledgeably as possible.

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FERS retirement and disability

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Q. I retired in June 2010 at 56 with more than 30 years’ service. I receive a regular FERS retirement, not disability.

But I do have a disability — an above-the-knee amputation.

If I apply for and receive Social Security Disability Insurance, how will my FERS retirement be affected?

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Military buyback and severance pay

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Q. I am a new civil employee. I received an early-out due to force reduction. I am a 50 percent disability veteran I paid the severance pay to the Veterans Affairs Department before I could receive compensation. Now I want buy back my military time toward federal retirement. Is the severance pay included in my total earnings during my active duty? If so, is severance pay deducted from the amount to buy back time, since it was paid to the VA?

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Disability retirement, rehiring and rights restoration

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Q. I was injured on the job in 1998. I applied for OPM disability retirement and Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. OPM was approved first. I took that. Later, OWCP was approved and I spent nine years on OWCP. After that ended, I went back to retirement. Later, I was rehired by the government as a disabled annuitant. Am I entitled to a restoration of rights (5 USC 8151) for that time spent on OWCP (this would add nine years to my federal record)? I now work for the VA but was injured at INS. Can I apply to have the tenure of nine years restored by either VA or INS, or have I lost that nine years on OWCP? I note 5 CFR 353 seems to suggest I should get those nine years back not on retirement.

I applied for re-employment at INS when I recovered, and officials there never responded.

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SRS and reductions, COLA

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Q. I am 58 and have 23 years of service with the IRS. Two items I have yet to see specifically addressed on the special retirement supplement are: Will my FERS retirement benefits be reduced or lower in any way if I draw the SRS? Also, the amount of the SRS is fixed on the day it is first calculated and isn’t increased by cost-of-living adjustments. Is the non-SRS portion of a FERS employee’s retirement pay still subject to cost-of-living adjustments when the employee is drawing the SRS?

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Early retirement and pension

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Q. In 2004, I resigned as a GS-0132 with 17 years of federal service. In 2009, I started drawing Social Security disability.

I am 57. I did not withdraw my retirement when I separated. Can I draw my FERS retirement early based on my Social Security disability, or will I have to wait until I am 62 to begin drawing it?

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Military buyback and disability

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Q. I am a 67-year-old military retiree. I retired in 1988 with 21 years of active-duty service. I draw a 40 percent VA disability, although I have three more claims, which may increase my percentage. I am also employed by the FAA as an FG-13, step 2 with five years of service. I am considering buying back my 21 years of active-duty service using a payment plan.

Because of using a payment plan, I won’t have the 21 years bought back until approximately one year before my planned retirement from the FAA.

1) Will I continue to draw my military retirement pay while making payments until I retire from the FAA, at which time I would forfeit my military retirement pay and draw my FERS retirement?

2) Once I’ve bought back my military time and I retire from the FAA under FERS, will my VA disability be affected?

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Disability

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Q. The requirements for Social Security disability are much higher than for FERS disability retirement, so what happens to FERS if you are approved by OPM but denied by the Social Security Administration? Can you still receive your FERS disability retirement? Must you continue to reapply with SSA regularly? I have 15 years in FERS and am only 42.

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Disability retirement and annuity recalculation

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Q. I am on disability retirement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I have 13 years of service and fall in the MRA bracket born in 1953-1964. When will my annuity be recalculated? Will my annuity be more than what I am receiving on disability?

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