Last week, we posted an article about the importance of applying for federal disability retirement. We noted how the program is included in all federal workers’ pensions, and briefly discussed the different benefits it entails. We share this information with all of our clients. We inform them about how important it is to apply early, and to view it as a safety net for whenever their workers’ compensation benefits are terminated, or for when they just flat-out can no longer meet their job requirements because of their disability. Many of our clients consider our advice, but are still hesitant to begin the application process. The underlying factor that often causes their reluctance is simple – they still want to work.
This is completely understandable. Working for the federal government is generally a fulfilling career, and based on our experience, its workforce is comprised of some of our country’s hardest working people. It’s deeply ingrained in us to work, to have a career and to approach each day with purpose. A lot of our clients reasonably don’t want to risk giving that up. The reality, however, is that they don’t have to.
As we mentioned in our previous post, you can apply for federal disability and, once approved, hold off on receiving the benefits if you are on OWCP wage loss. It can absolutely just be used as a sort of “insurance policy” in case it becomes too difficult for you to stay on OWCP wage loss or they are successful at kicking you off. We just want our clients to understand how much of an asset it can be for long-term planning.
We like to call federal disability retirement “the bridge to 62”. Once the time comes for you to leave your position with the federal government because you cannot fully perform your essential job duties, federal disability retirement will provide financial assistance until your pension is activated at age 62. Something many don’t realize, is that you can also work in the private sector while still receiving federal disability retirement payments.
Yes, that’s right, you can work in the private sector and make up to eighty percent of your former federal salary while still receiving federal disability retirement payments.
A key distinction of federal disability retirement is that the eligible claimant must be occupationally disabled, not totally disabled. This means you may qualify even if you can still complete 99 of the 100 tasks your jobs requires. That one task you can’t complete because of your disability could qualify you as occupationally disabled. This is because you are no longer deemed competitive for the position compared to those who can complete all 100 tasks.
Several of our former clients have actually managed to secure jobs that they view as quite rewarding, regardless of their disability.
For example, one former client worked as a post office janitor for years; however, she unfortunately suffered from debilitating anxiety disorder and depression. This caused her day-to-day job to become arduous, and she was ultimately approved for federal disability retirement. Now, she is currently working to open her own beauty shop, where she can set her own hours, attend to her health and do something that she loves.
Federal Disability Retirement doesn’t necessarily have to mark the end of your career. It very well could be a fresh start, and allow you the opportunity to do something you love without neglecting your health.
If you think you may qualify for federal disability retirement, and would like to speak with one of our attorneys, fill out our INQUIRY FORM for a free consultation.