At the start of the new year, federal employees should take the time to seriously conduct some personal job maintenance. If you are considering applying for FERS federal employee disability retirement benefits in 2016, you’ll also want to begin the initial steps of that process. Consider the following to begin the new year as a fresh start. Create a financial plan, and stick to it! In the new year, you’ll be happy you took the time to conduct a detailed assessment.
General Maintenance for 2016
For general job maintenance, look into the following:
- Consider your pay increase. For the first time since 2010, federal workers can finally enjoy a pay increase. One Dec. 18th, President Obama made an executive order allowing a one percent across the board pay increase for federal workers, along with locality increases that average around 0.3 percent. Check the new 2016 pay rate for your area, and create a financial plan for 2016.
- Check on benefits. Review your Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) deferral rates and think about your spending for the year ahead. With carryovers, the first quarter is a good time for checkups, vision and dental exams and other elective medical treatment you have been putting off. Make sure you understand how 2016 Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program premiums will affect your financial planning.
- Assess savings plans. You should review your Individual Retirement Account (IRA),Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and other deferred-tax savings plans. Determine whether a change in deferral rate is necessary to meet your savings targets. You should at least contribute as much as necessary to obtain your agency’s maximum match (if one is available). Check out this article written by a federal worker who has saved over one million dollars in his TSP account.
- Update contact and family information. Did you have any personal changes in 2015? Make sure you update any personal data such as changes in marital status, dependents or beneficiaries. You want to be sure your personal records are accurate for 2016.
Planning on Federal Employee Disability Retirement?
If you are planning to retire in 2016 or think you will qualify for federal employee disability retirement benefits, take steps now – don’t wait! The FERS federal disability retirement process is lengthy, and can even take up to a year. The longer you wait, the more likely you’ll have to hold off until 2017 to secure the benefit. Also, keep in mind there is a very strict one year deadline from your formal date of separation of service for you to submit your application. If you have already been separated from service, the clock is ticking — time is running out for you to apply for the benefit.
Today is a great day to:
- Gather medical records. To secure federal disability retirement benefits, you will have to prove that you have a legitimate disability as defined by the federal government. Talk to your doctors and tell them of your retirement plans and the need for documentation.
- Collect wage/employment records. To qualify for federal disability retirement benefits, you must have completed 18 months of federal service in a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)-credited position. You will have to have this documented in your application package, and if you are retiring because of a disability, you must also have written certification from your agency that that it cannot accommodate you in your current position or another position. If you have not yet requested accommodation, start the process now.
- Explain your disability. Although your medical condition does not have to be job-related, it must have arisen while you were employed with the federal government. You’ll have to make the case that the condition causes you to no longer perform required job duties. Start to compile this documentation by obtaining a job description for your position and drafting a timeline of how your disability has developed and how it has impacted your ability to work.
- Schedule a consultation. Your federal disability retirement application requires a surplus of documentation. The process is tedious and time consuming, and if your application omits certain components or contains conflicting information, it’ll likely be delayed or rejected.
Harris Federal helps federal employees compile, submit and, if necessary, defend benefits applications. We can help you make sure you are ready for a smooth retirement in 2016. You can simply schedule a consultation with us today and get started on the path to disability retirement.