Federal Employee Disability Retirement

If you are a federal employee, and you develop a disability that prevents you from being able to do your job, you might qualify for disability retirement. Disability retirement for federal employees is different from Social Security disability. While Social Security disability requires that a person be completely disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration, under federal employee disability retirement, an employee only needs to be prevented from doing their job and similar jobs.

What requirements must I meet to be eligible for disability retirement?

In order to qualify for disability retirement, an applicant must meet a number of requirements, including:

  • You must have worked for the Federal civilian service for a minimum of 18 months.
  • You must have become disabled and incapable of efficiently doing your job, and the disability must have occurred during the course of your employment in a position that qualifies for the retirement system.
  • The disability you developed must be expected to last at least one year.
  • The agency you work or worked for must state that they are not able to accommodate you as a result of your disability. Additionally, the agency must have considered you for any open position which you are qualified, and which is equal in pay level and grade, and in the same area as you worked, but could not find an appropriate position for you.
  • Your application must be filed while you still work for the agency, or within a year of your date of separation. An extension can be granted in cases when a mental incompetency existed at the time of your separation.
  • You are required to apply for Social Security disability in addition to disability retirement.

Other considerations

You may be required to undergo periodic medical exams at your own cost in order to show that you are still disabled. If you recover from your disability and are under 60 years old, your benefits might stop. Your benefits might also stop if you are employed and making at least 80 percent of the pay currently earned by someone in the position you formerly worked in, or if you are employed with the federal service again, in a position equal to the one you previously held.

You may work while collecting disability insurance, so long as your earnings do not exceed 80 percent of what someone in your former position currently earns.

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