Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

FERS, military service and disability

Bookmark and Share

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Disability retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am 51 (I turn 52 in April) and have been a law enforcement officer for 23 years, plus four years of military time that I bought back. Because of torn retinas, I have lost all depth perception permanently and have been placed on light duty pending further medical review. I will likely be ruled unable to perform in a law enforcement position and unfit for duty. I wasn’t planning on retiring, but now it might be forced on me with a FERS disability retirement. If that is the case, what is better — to just retire voluntary, before they rule on me, or wait and go out on a disability retirement? I’m also confused on the SS supplement, unless you lose that because you’ll get SS benefits too.

A. Retiring voluntarily is a certain thing. Applying for disability retirement isn’t. There’s more paperwork involved, a longer wait for a determination and uncertainty about whether your application will be approved.

Assuming that either way would result in your retirement, you can check the math to find out which one makes better financial sense. As a regular retiree, you’d receive 34 percent of your high-3, plus the special retirement supplement once you reached your minimum retirement age. As a disability retiree, during the first 12 months you’d receive 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit you were entitled to. From that point forward, you’d receive 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit.

You wouldn’t be entitled to the special retirement supplement, even if you weren’t approved for a Social Security disability benefit.

Note: The standards for a Social Security disability benefit are much higher than those for FERS disability retirement. In the latter case, you only have to be sufficiently disabled that you can’t perform useful and efficient service in your own job or one of similar grade and/or pay. In the former, you have to be completely disabled for all gainful employment.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Health insurance following 6c disability retirement

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer with four years of service in a 6c covered position. I was injured in the line of duty and my agency is unable to accommodate me in another position, so I am being medically retired. What are the health insurance options for me and my family after my disability retirement?

A. Assuming that you are enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, as a FERS disability retiree you will be able to continue that coverage. Note: When you apply for FERS disability retirement, you must simultaneously apply for Social Security disability benefits. If you don’t, OPM won’t process your case.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

FERS disability and pension

Bookmark and Share

Q. I am a dual-status Air National guardsman with 26 years of service in FERS. I started a medical worldwide duty evaluation in September 2011, and the clinic has been gathering information from my doctors via me. In May 2012, I was told that I was being non-retained on the military side due to restructuring. I was told that since I had 26 years of federal service, I would draw an immediate pension and that would disqualify me for FERS disability, which would be better for me. Is this true?

A. Yes.

Tags: , , ,

FERS disablility and military buyback

Bookmark and Share

Q. If I pay about $4,000,  I will have my 12 years of military service counted toward my FERS retirement. I got hurt at my federal job and I’m thinking about asking for FERS disability. One problem, I am a month shy of the 18 months required. Can I  pay only  a portion of the $4,000 (to have the month required), or do I have to pay the whole amount. Are we allowed to just pay part of the buy-back money?

A: First, you have to have 18 months of creditable civilian service under FERS to be eligible to apply for disability retirement. Active-duty service for which a deposit has been made doesn’t count toward meeting that requirement. Second, you can’t make a deposit that covers only a portion of a period of active-duty service. It’s all or nothing.

Tags: ,

Disability retirement seminars?

Bookmark and Share

Q: Do you know of any retirement seminars specifically geared to Federal Employees Retirement Service disability retirement?

A: No, I don’t. However, if any of our readers are aware of any, please let me know and I’ll pass the information along.

Tags: , , ,