Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Workers’ comp and Social Security

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Q. I have been receiving federal workers’ compensation since February 2007 for an on-the-job injury. I never applied for Social Security disability. I turned 66 on Feb. 3 and applied for my full SS retirement benefits. If I hadn’t been injured on the job, I would still be working and would continue to work while receiving my full retirement benefit from Social Security (as allowed by SS).

Can I continue to receive the OWCP monthly benefit and get my full retirement benefit? I would like to supplement my SS retirement benefit and continue to work, but my injury keeps me from working. It seems to me that since I cannot work, OWCP should continue to pay my monthly benefit while receiving my full retirement benefit from Social Security.

A. If you receive workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled.

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Pay for time off while injured

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Q. I am a Postal Service employee (regular rural carrier). Some time back, I sustained a back injury on the job. It was approved through the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs for necessary treatments and I eventually had surgery on my back. I subsequently returned to my job and began having back problems again. OWCP approved treatment/office visits again. I received some shots into my back to try to relieve the pain. How do I get paid for the time off I have to take for doctor’s visits and treatments when they occur periodically (as needed) and are often for one day?

A. You can only be paid for that time if you are on sick or annual leave. Otherwise, you would be on leave without pay.

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Counting injury leave toward retirement

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Q: If I received compensation for two years because of an injury at the U.S. Postal Service, does this delay my retirement for two years?

A: If you were in leave-without-pay status while in receipt of workers’ compensation benefits, you’ll receive full credit for that period of time in determining your length of service and your high-3. LWOP while receiving Federal Employees Compensation Act, or FECA, benefits isn’t subject to the six-month limitation in a calendar year, as is other LWOP.

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