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What are the qualifications for disability retirement?

To Obtain Federal Disability Retirement

Until recently, you had never thought about applying for a federal disability retirement.

You’ve served the government quite a long time now. At first, you did fine. You worked hard and did your job well. You received good or maybe even excellent evaluations, and got along well with your supervisors, co-workers and customers. Things were going great or at least well enough.

But then something happened.

Maybe you’re in a management position where you must write numerous reports, but you got carpel tunnel syndrome. Now, you suffer nightmares just thinking about placing your painful wrists on that keyboard.

Or maybe job stress makes your life a living hell. Management has cut your resources while doubling your workload. It’s happening everywhere, and you simply cannot take it anymore. Things have gotten so bad that work problems threaten your marriage.

Is it time to consider retiring on disability?  What are qualifications for disability retirement?

How to Qualify for Federal Disability Retirement

You must meet all of these requirements to obtain a disability retirement:

  • You’ve given your agency or the OPM an application for disability retirement either while still working or within one year of leaving your job. You might get more time to file if you were mentally disabled while working or within one year of leaving.
  • You’ve completed 18 months or more of federal service under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or five years under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
  • While under FERS or CSRS, an injury, a physical or a psychiatric disease rendered you disabled.
  • Your physician reported that your disability would likely last at least a year.
  • Because of this disability, you cannot adequately do your current job, and you can demonstrate that one of two ways. Either one will suffice.
  1. Your agency and physician have documented that, due to your illness or injury, you did not show up to work on time or often enough, you behaved inappropriately or you failed to perform your job adequately, or

 

  1. If you can’t demonstrate inadequate performance, your physician must report that your medical condition renders you unable to do you job satisfactorily.

 

Of course, your success depends on how thoroughly your physician completes the forms, and doctors generally hate doing so. For that reason, talk to your health care provider before submitting your claim to make sure she supports it. Your physician must also put in the time and effort necessary to thoroughly document your application.

 

Neither the OPM nor any other federal agency will pay for the medical examinations needed to get the necessary evidence of your disability. Instead, either you or your insurance must compensate the physician and laboratory.

 

  • Once you’ve demonstrated that your health condition prevents you from adequately performing your job, your employing agency must certify that it can’t,

 

  1. Accommodate your disability, or
  2. Give you a similar position in your commuting area at the identical grade or pay level.

Unfortunately, your agency may not willingly provide that documentation. Just because you’ve served it loyally, possibly for decades, doesn’t mean management will respond in kind. If they don’t, we can help you.

  • Under FERS, you must also apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) to qualify for federal disability retirement. CSRS doesn’t have this requirement. Under FERS, if you withdraw your SSDI application for any reason, the OPM will void your disability retirement claim as well.

How To Obtain More Information or Contact Us

Hopefully you have learned about the qualifications for disability retirement from this page.  Remember, you must meet each and every one of these requirements to qualify for disability retirement. For further information about these provisions, you may either consult the OPM disability handbook or this online brochure.

Many people successfully navigate the OPM maze on their own. They don’t need outside help. Keep in mind, however, that your chances of securing your disability pension improve greatly if you get it right the first time. Unfortunately, if OPM rejects your claim, you must file an appeal, and if the government disallows your first appeal, you get only one more.

So if you think you might not be able to provide the OPM with a perfect documentation package on your first attempt, you may want some help. You can learn about attorney Stephanie Leet, who represents disabled federal workers, here. (Direct the reader to the article about Stephanie.)

Better yet, we’re here to assist you right now, so please feel free to contact us for a free, friendly, no obligation consultation. Simply call…