It’s no surprise that the Office of Personnel Management has a large backlog of retirement claims, including both regular retirement and disability retirement applications. When you submit your retirement application, you want to be 100% sure it’s complete and timely; this is especially important for disability retirement applications because there are deadlines to be aware of.
When OPM receives your Federal Disability Retirement claim, they will send you a letter with information about your claim and you’ll get your Civil Service Annuity (CSA) number. Your case will be assigned to a Legal Administrative Specialist (LAS), who makes the determination based on what you’ve submitted and if that meets the eligibility requirements:
- You have 18 months creditable civilian FERS service.
- While employed in a FERS position, you became disabled due to disease or injury for useful and efficient service in your current position.
- Your condition is expected to last at least one year.
- Your agency must certify its unable to accommodate your condition in your present position and its considered you for any vacant position in the same agency, at the same grade and pay level, within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment.
- You must apply before you are separated from your agency, or within one year thereafter.
- You must apply for Social Security benefits.
Both you and your employing agency will be notified and at this point, your agency will separate you (if you are still working).
The Payment Processing Department at OPM will calculate your benefit and make any deductions for insurance and/or survivor benefits and Social Security (if applicable).
Again, you and your employing agency will be notified in the case of a denial. Remember that you do have appeal rights. If your application is denied at the initial level, you have 30 days to appeal OPM’s decision. This is called the Reconsideration stage. If you choose to appeal, a different LAS will be assigned to your case, and you’ll have the opportunity to submit supplemental evidence to strengthen your claim. OPM follows the same process if you are approved at this stage (as if you were approved initially).
If you get denied a second time, you again have 30 days to appeal. This time you appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. This is a more formal process and OPM will assign an Administrative Judge to oversee the case. There will also be an attorney assigned to defend OPM’s decision.
It’s important to know you have appeal rights in the case of a denial at the initial level. To avoid this though, be sure you are submitting a complete and thorough application the first time.