Eligible federal employees may apply for disability retirement benefits through their agency or the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in the case of suffering a disability while presently working in a position covered by the Federal Retirement System. The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) has specific rules regarding disability retirement. Employees must meet and maintain eligibility requirements to receive disability benefits on a continual basis.
How to Apply
As a federal civilian employee, you should apply for disability retirement benefits after providing documentation to your agency concerning your medical condition. Your agency is obligated to exhaust all possibilities regarding finding you work similar to your last position that you're capable of performing. You must complete and submit the disability application (Form SF 3107) and supporting documentation (Form 3112). If you are under age 62, you must submit documentation showing that you have applied for social security benefits. Your agency will help you complete the forms if you have experienced a separation from your former employer for 31 days or less.
Federal civilian employees must have obtained at least 18 months of service credit under the FERS to meet eligibility requirements for disability retirement benefits. Disability or injury must occur while the employee is employed at an agency, and it must be expected to last at least one year. The injury or disability must prevent you from performing your job duties, and your agency must certify that you are unable to work in a similar position at the same agency, at the same grade level, for the same salary and commuting time. You must apply for disability retirement within one year of leaving your former employer.
Periodic Medical Exams
Depending on your medical condition, you may have to undergo periodic medical exams to provide information concerning your current medical condition to OPM. You're responsible for paying for all medical exams. You may have your benefits suspended if you do not submit the required information concerning your current medical condition. Your benefits may cease permanently if you recover from your medical condition or if your self-employment wages exceed 80 percent of the wages earned in your former position before retirement. You may also have your disability benefits terminated if you gain employment in the federal system in a similar position as your former position.
Disability Retirement Computation
If you are age 62 or older and have fewer than 20 years of service or are under age 62 and eligible for immediate voluntary retirement, you will receive 1 percent of your high-3 average salary for each year of service. Your high-3 average salary is your highest average salary over a three-year period. If you are age 62 or older with 20 or more years of service, you will receive 1.1 percent of your high-3 average salary. If you are under age 62 and not eligible for immediate voluntary retirement, your first 12 months of benefits are 60 percent of your high-3 average salary minus 100 percent of your social security benefits. After the first 12 months, you will receive 40 percent of your high-3 salary minus 60 percent of your social security benefits.
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