Q&A – Do I have to notify the OPM immediately of my approval for SSDI?

Jun 13, 2022

Health and Life Insurance on Federal Disability Retirement

The Federal Disability Retirement process can be overwhelming, but it is important to stay well informed and make educated decisions. Our last webinar on Health and Life insurance while on Federal Disability Retirement brought up a lot of great questions that we are going to answer in this Q&A!

Watch the Health and Life Insurance Webinar.

If you have any other questions that are not answered in this Q&A regarding Health and Life Insurance, we recommend that you check out our other posts in our Federal Disability Retirement Q&A series.

Q: Would quitting my job before starting the Federal Disability Retirement process damage my case?

A: In most cases it is not recommended for you to resign from your agency before applying for Federal Disability Retirement as this will make the application process a lot harder. It is best to stay employed and utilize all resources such as LWOP, sick and annual leave and requesting reasonable accommodation.

Your agency must exhaust all reasonable accommodation efforts before you are able to be approved for Federal Disability Retirement. If you resign before having the chance to go through the reasonable accommodation process, you will have to prove to the OPM that no accommodation could work for you.

Q: If I take MRA + 10 retirement can I still apply for disability?

A: You can still apply for Federal Disability Retirement after an MRA + 10 but you must wait until early retirement is finalized, and then you must apply within one year of your official date of separation.

Q: Do I have to submit my doctor’s work restriction along with my Reasonable Accommodation request?

A: Medical documentation is not required when submitting a reasonable accommodation request, but it is highly recommended as it can help support your claim.

Q: Can I change my health insurance benefits during open season while on Federal Disability Retirement?

A: Yes, you will be able to change your health insurance election during the annual open season during your disability retirement.

Q: If I get married while receiving Federal Disability Retirement can I add my spouse to my FEHB insurance?

A: Yes, you can add a spouse since a new marriage would be considered a qualifying life event that will allow you to make changes to your health and life insurance elections including a survivor annuity change.

Q: Do my dependents have to be covered under my health insurance in order to be eligible for coverage under Federal Disability Retirement?

A: The answer to this is, no! You can add on family members, including your spouse and dependents, after receiving a Federal Disability Retirement approval. Keep in mind that eligible children must be under 26 years old or be unable to financially support themselves.

Q: Is applying for Social Security Disability required?

A: YES! Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance is required in order to apply for Federal Disability Retirement. You do not have to be approved for SSDI to be approved for Federal Disability Retirement, but proof of application is required.

Q: If I receive both SSDI and Federal Disability Retirement does the SSDI amount come off the unreduced annuity?

A: If you qualify and receive both benefits that the same time then that will lead to an offset. 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 Disability Retirement provides 40% of your High-3 salary, which will be reduced by 60% of your Social Security Disability payment.

Q: Do I have to notify the OPM immediately of my approval for SSDI?

A: Yes! It is very important to keep the OPM updated on any benefits that you are approved for. If you do not notify the OPM of your SSDI approval, then this could lead to an overpayment which you will have to pay back to the OPM. Additionally, an approval for SSDI can be supportive for your Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Q: Does working in the private sector stay the same if I am receiving Social Security?

A: You can work in the private sector, but your earnings capacity is extremely limited. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) you cannot receive substantial gainful income (more than $1,350 in a month) and continue to receive disability benefits.

Q: Does being on OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation hurt your Federal Disability Retirement application?

A: Workers’ compensation does not negatively impact your Federal Disability Retirement application and can even be beneficial when applying for Federal Disability Retirement. Being on workers’ compensation already proves to the OPM that you have a condition that is preventing you from performing all the essential duties of your job, which is exactly what the OPM is looking for in regard to Federal Disability Retirement.

Q: Do OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation years count towards my retirement recalculation at 62?

A: Yes! All the time that you are on OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation will count as creditable years of service towards your retirement.

Q: How does a service buyback for military service and VA Disability compensated veterans work with federal disability retirement health and life insurance?

A: A deposit for military service can be made to add years of creditable service to your FERS time. VA disability is a separate benefit from Federal Disability Retirement, and the two do not interact and can be received concurrently. You can maintain health and life insurance benefits under FERS in conjunction with any military benefits you carry.

Q: If my Federal Disability Retirement gets approved can I return to a federal position and get reinstated after a few years if I recover?

A: The short answer is yes, however Federal Disability Retirement is intended to be a permanent benefit until you can begin receiving regular retirement at age 62. However, it is not recommended to return to federal service after receiving Federal Disability Retirement. While on Federal Disability Retirement, the OPM will request periodic evaluations to determine if you have recovered. If you show that you are recovered, OPM will stop annuity payments one year from the date of the medical exam showing your recovery.

If you return to work in the federal government your Federal Disability Retirement annuity payments will be deducted from your salary.
We recommend working in the private sector to avoid these situations.

Q: I’m a special provision employee, can my agency put me on light duty if I request a reasonable accommodation?

A: If your agency places you on light duty that does not count as a valid reasonable accommodation to the OPM, and you would still qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. A valid reasonable accommodation must allow you to perform the essential duties of your current job description. Watch our webinar on reasonable accommodation to learn more.

Q: I work as an LEO and suffer severe mental health issues; would I have a harder time receiving federal disability than others?

A: Mental health can be a serious issue for LEO’s and support their claim for Federal Disability Retirement, especially for those that carry an issued weapon.

Receiving Federal Disability Retirement for mental health conditions is no harder than physical conditions. Mental health cases require more in-depth medical evidence but if you have enough supporting documentation then you will not have a vastly different experience than if you were applying for a physical condition.

We hope that this Q&A helped clear up any questions that you had regarding this benefit! If you have more questions that were not answered in this Q&A, check out our other resources, as they may provide answers to your other questions.

If you have specific questions regarding your Federal Disability Retirement case, contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation.

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