Federal Disability Retirement can be a lifeline for federal workers who are struggling at work due to an injury or illness. But getting approved may be more difficult than you might expect. Discover common challenges in the application process and learn why it’s worth partnering with an experienced legal firm to maximize your chances of approval.
5 Challenges When Applying for Federal Disability Retirement
Applying for disability retirement without the assurance you’ll be approved can be stressful since your financial security is on the line. Here are five key reasons why applying for Federal Disability Retirement without legal help can be a daunting task:
- It’s a complex administrative and legal process: This process requires a thorough understanding of legal terms and federal procedures, which can be difficult to understand without help. For example, a team that’s processed thousands of applications knows that over-communicating with the OPM can actually harm a case rather than help it. There are similar nuances throughout the process, which require multiple steps and detailed documentation. Experienced professionals know how to obtain necessary records from doctors and agencies, when to submit applications and be in contact the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and methods to help strengthen applications.
- The application requires extensive documentation: This application requires comprehensive medical and work-related documentation as supporting evidence. Obtaining these documents and forms from your doctor and agency can be a long, frustrating process. In addition, you might not be aware of the various supporting documentation that exists to help improve your chances of approval.
- Small application errors can lead to denials: To be approved for Federal Disability Retirement, your application must be filled out completely and accurately. Small mistakes, like misspellings, can lead to a denial. Understanding and correctly filling out required forms and documentation can be stressful and confusing, especially when your financial security is at stake.
- Properly understanding and meeting the requirements can be confusing: Without an experienced legal professional to confirm your status as eligible, it’s possible to misunderstand the qualification requirements for disability retirement altogether.
- Misconceptions can lead to application mistakes and denial: Some applicants may assume that if their doctor believes they’re disabled, their application will be automatically approved. However, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) makes the final decision about your application, not your doctor. Such assumptions can lead to insufficient documentation and therefore, a denial. Similarly, others may incorrectly assume they’ll be denied because of a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) denial.
While the challenges of applying for Federal Disability Retirement can be daunting, the rewards of successfully navigating this journey are numerous and potentially life changing.
4 Key Benefits of Federal Disability Retirement
There are four main benefits of Federal Disability Retirement you would receive until you reach your regular retirement age of 62:
- A monthly annuity payment: Your monthly annuity will be calculated based off your high-3 average salary. Your high-3 refers to the 36 highest consecutive months of basic pay. For the first year, you’ll receive 60% of your high-3. For the second year and following years until age 62, you’ll receive 40% of your high-3. A monthly annuity can help cover medical and living expenses so you can focus on recovery.
- Additional years of creditable service: You’ll continue to earn additional years of creditable service on top of your current service. For example, if you receive disability retirement at the age of 52, you’ll receive 10 additional years of creditable service by the time you hit your retirement age. At that point, your additional years of creditable service will be used when calculating your regular retirement pension. This benefit helps contribute toward financial goals and stability without working.
- The option to work in the private sector: You can work in the private sector and earn up to 80% of your old position’s current salary on top of your monthly annuity while on this benefit. You could potentially make more income than you would have made in your federal job alone. Your career growth does not have to stop while on disability retirement. A lot of clients discover a new passion while working in the private sector.
- Continued health and life insurance: You have the option to continue your health and life insurance options while on Federal Disability Retirement. This can make a big difference for those treating an illness or injury who are worried about increasing medical costs. You can rest assured knowing that your health care coverage will continue.
Consider Julia, a mail carrier and a single parent who suffered from a back injury after falling on ice while walking her dog. Worried about providing for her children, she decided to apply for disability retirement with the help of a professional. After getting approved, she took up a job as an administrative assistant at a dentist’s office. She was able to rest assured knowing she’d be able to cover rent, groceries, gas, and medical expenses, and still have some left over for her annual family vacation to Florida.
If you’re a federal employee with an injury or illness like Julia considering disability retirement, working with an experienced professional to help guide you through the application process will help maximize your chances of approval.
Why Legal Help Can Maximize Your Chances of Federal Disability Retirement Approval
The application process for this federal benefit is intricate, and mistakes can cost you months or even years in the approval process. However, experienced professionals can help you avoid common errors and develop a strong application.
Securing your financial future should not be your burden to carry alone, especially when dealing with an injury or illness. We know that trying to put together all the moving pieces involved in an application can be stressful.
At Harris Federal law firm, we have a team of experienced professionals ready to help you determine if you qualify and build a winning application.
We know exactly what the OPM is looking for and have a proven process; we’ve helped more than 8,000 happy clients get approved for Federal Disability Retirement at a 99% success rate. Give us a call today and schedule a free consultation to talk with an employee benefits specialist about your options.
Don’t carry the weight of this process alone. Connect with us today and illuminate your path to a secure future.