If you are a federal worker who is eligible for more than one type of disability (i.e. disability retirement, social security disability, workers’ compensation, etc.), pay special attention to benefit interactions and offsets. Sometimes, not knowing these interactions, or not catching them, can cause overpayment to you. It’s almost impossible to get out of repaying these so it’s important to understand how these do and don’t work together.
Social Security and OWCP
If you are receiving OWCP Wage Loss payments or a Schedule Award, the Social Security Administration will deduct a percentage of its annuity payments based on the amount you’re entitled to through OWCP. If your Schedule Award is substantial, your Social Security Disability payments will significantly reduce.
OWCP benefits are meant to be temporary and the agency’s goal is to eventually send you back to work. For this reason, many federal workers opt to apply for federal disability retirement.
Federal Disability Retirement and Social Security Disability
You must apply for Social Security Disability to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement, however, an approval is not required.
If you are receiving both benefits, Social Security becomes the primary source of income.
Your first-year benefit under FERS is 60% of your High-3 salary, which is reduced by 100% of your Social Security Disability payment. The second year is 40% of your High-3 salary, which is reduced by 60% of your Social Security Disability payment.
Federal Disability Retirement and OWCP
It’s possible to be approved for both these benefits, but you need to decide which is more beneficial to you. Generally, OWCP pays more, but it is designed to be temporary. If you are receiving OPM annuity payments and you get approved for OWCP payments, you can switch. However, you MUST notify OPM of this change, otherwise, you risk overpayment or termination of benefits.
You can’t receive OWCP Wage Loss and OPM payments at the same time, but you can receive a Schedule Award with OPM annuity payments. It’s important to be aware of all offsets in order to maximize your benefits.
Harris Federal Law Firm helps federal and Postal employees nationwide with federal disability retirement cases. If you have an injury or illness that keeps you from performing your essential job duties, you may qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. Give us a call at 877-226-2723 or fill out this INQUIRY form today.