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Get to Know the FERS Disability Program

March 31, 2022 Disability

Individuals who suffer injuries or illnesses that prevent them from working may have several options available to them, including Social Security disability, short term disability, long term disability, and workers’ compensation. Employees of the federal government, however, have an additional option available to them through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). While FERS mainly focuses on providing retirement benefits, federal employees who suffer disabling injuries or illnesses may also be able to obtain disability benefits through the program. If you think you might qualify, a Baltimore FERS disability lawyer can help you apply.  

What Is the FERS Program? 

FERS is the retirement system for employees of the United States federal government and the U.S. Postal Service. It is administered through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). It provides retirement benefits through several avenues, including disability retirement, early retirement, voluntary retirement, and deferred retirement. Disability retirement benefits are generally available to all current federal employees and those who have been separated from federal service for up to one year. 

To qualify for the program, you must meet the following requirements

  • You must have completed at least 18 months of federal civilian service
  • You must have become disabled for useful and efficient service in your current position
  • Your disability must be expected to last at least one year
  • Your agency must certify that it is unable to accommodate your disabling medical condition 
  • You must apply within one year of separation from federal civilian service
  • You must apply for Social Security disability benefits

In addition to the qualification criteria above, OPM requires documentation of the following: 

  1. A deficiency in service with respect to performance, conduct, or attendance 
  2. A medical condition resulting from a disease or injury, including a psychiatric disease
  3. A relationship between the service deficiency and the medical condition such that the medical condition has caused the service deficiency

Amount and Duration of FERS Disability Benefits 

The amount and duration of FERS disability benefits vary depending upon the claimant’s age and medical condition. For claimants under the age of 62, benefits amount to 60% of the claimant’s “high-3” average salary for the first 12 months, then drop to 40% of the claimant’s “high-3” average salary every month after the first 12 months. These benefits are subject to reduction by a certain percentage if the claimant is also receiving Social Security disability benefits. The duration of FERS benefits lasts until (1) the claimant is found to have medically recovered, (2) the claimant’s income for any calendar year reaches 80% of the pay rate of the position they retired from, or (3) the claimant is reemployed in the federal government in an equivalent position. 

Get Help Applying for FERS Disability from a Baltimore FERS Disability Lawyer 

As with all federal benefits programs, applying for FERS benefits requires navigating a complex bureaucratic maze, but an experienced attorney can guide your way. For more information, please contact Baltimore FERS disability lawyer Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.