Disability Retirement Part Three

Guest post by David Fielder.

David Fielder is owner of Postal Benefits Group

Click below to see all of Davids’s Guest Posts.

Example Letter to Doctor:

(Start example)

Dr. Anyone,

On August 6, 2012, I wrote to you informing you that I had submitted my papers to the United States Postal Service Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requesting a Medical Retirement. You stated to me during my last scheduled appointment with you that you thought that was the best route for me to take other than just quitting. You stated that you would assist me in any way that you could.

Enclosed is a Physician’s Statement which is required by the OPM, along with copies of my bid job description (both personal and professional). I have highlighted exactly what is required from you (minus the copies of my medical records, as I already have those). It is important for me to show the OPM that I canno longer continue to do the work required in my current position as an Sales and Service Distribution Clerk (SSDA), as the repetitive work and heavy lifting, pulling and pushing is debilitating to my health and body. I must show that I have complied with all the tests, surgeries and therapies that you have suggested and completed; but that continued employment in this position is regretfully not conducive to my continuing issues with tendonitis and joint/arthritis issues. They also need to know I have reached “Maximum Medical Improvement” with my condition.

I realize this is additional work for you and I apologize for any inconvenience. This information is time critical. I need to have it as quickly as possible.

Thank You,
[your name]

(End example)

If I am seeing one doctor for my arthritis issues, another doctor for my respiratory condition and another doctor for back issues, Do I need each one to send in a physician statement?

Yes, the employee’s total medical health is taken into consideration. If your arthritis limits your mobility and your back condition limits your ability to lift weight, both conditions have an overall effect on if you can perform the essential requirements of your position.

What will my annuity be if I am approved for a medical retirement?

As a CSRS employee, you are guaranteed a minimum of 40%. However, if you have more than 21 years 11 months of service, your disability will be computed using all your creditable years of service. For example- if you had 30 years of service and were only 52 years old, you would receive credit for all years of service and would receive a disability of .5625% of your high-3.

That wouldn’t be a full annuity because you are forced to leave due to a medical reason three years earlier than a full retirement (which could have added another 6% at full retirement). You would receive this amount plus any additional COLA’s every year that one is granted.

If you are a FERS employee your computation is a bit different. You will receive earned annuity based on actual service if you are age 62 or over, or you are eligible for a regular Voluntary retirement with no age reduction.

If you are age 61 or less the FERS disability is computed at 60% for the first 12 months minus 100% of your Social Security entitlement (if you receive one from Social Security). This means you would receive an amount of 60% of your high-3 the first year. After the first 12 months, you would receive 40% of your high 3 minus 60% of the social security amount.

If you filed for disability from OPM, you are required to also file for disability from Social Security at the same time. This is required because you have Social Security as a component for your retirement and it also has a disability payment for FERS members.

Once you have been approved for Social Security disability, you must immediately notify OPM that it has been approved. If you are approved for both, you must recognize that you are not allowed to keep both of these amounts in total. You would receive this amount until age 62. At that time your retirement would be recomputed and you would receive a new annuity for all years of service plus the years you were retired on disability.

There is no underlying principle of the computation which allows for the offset. It is federal law and if you are under FERS, then you must follow the law. Do not think you can keep the entire OPM amount and the Social Security amount and it will not catch up to you. Understand that the government will catch up with you eventually. Sooner or later, you will have to pay this money back.

What if I want to work doing something else?

If you are approved for disability retirement from OPM, you can still work elsewhere and earn as much as 80% of your base for the grade and level of your last government position. It should be something within your restrictions. If you earn more than 80% while on disability, your retirement could be jeopardized.


Guest post by David Fielder.

David Fielder is owner of Postal Benefits Group

Click below to see all of Davids’s Guest Posts.