What is Federal Disability Retirement? A Simple Overview for Federal Employees

by | Apr 1, 2024

Last Updated June 25, 2024
Federal Disability Retirement overview for federal employees

A Special Kind of Early Retirement for Federal Employees to Help in Hard Times

Federal Disability Retirement is a unique benefit for federal employees who are struggling in their job because of a health problem. Typically, federal workers get their full retirement benefits when they reach the age to retire, which can vary based on their job, age requirements, and how long they’ve worked. But, if a sickness or injury keeps them from working until retirement age, Federal Disability Retirement can be a lifeline of support.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the agency responsible for retirement applications from the federal government. You will submit your application for Federal Disability Retirement to the OPM and they will determine whether or not you qualify.

Is it Hard to Get Federal Disability Retirement?

It can be hard to get Disability Retirement, but only if you don’t know the requirements. There are three main eligibility requirements for Federal Disability Retirement:

  • You must be a FERS career employee
  • You must have 18 months of creditable service
  • You must have a medical condition that is affecting your job performance

Any FERS employee, regardless of position, can be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement. You must have worked for at least 18 months and have shown a period of “useful and efficient service.” This means that you cannot get a job in the federal government knowing that you will be unable to perform the job solely to take advantage of Federal Disability Retirement. The OPM wants to see that at one point you were able to perform your job, and now cannot, due to your medical condition.

Your medical condition does not have to be caused by your job and it could even be a pre-existing condition, but it must be expected to last for at least one year. For example, chronic conditions like arthritis can qualify if they have worsened while working in your federal position. Disability Retirement is seen as a long-term benefit, which is why your medical condition must last for at least a year.

The Benefits of Federal Disability Retirement

There are many benefits to Federal Disability Retirement, but the four main benefits are:

  • A monthly annuity payment
  • The ability to keep your health and life insurance
  • The ability to grow your creditable years of service even though you stop working for the federal government
  • The option to find work in the private sector

The combination of these benefits can provide security for you and your family for years to come. Learn more about the benefits you could receive by scheduling a FREE consultation.

What Conditions Qualify for Federal Disability Retirement

The OPM does not provide a list of medical conditions that qualify for Disability Retirement. This means that a lot of conditions can qualify if you can prove that your condition is impacting your ability to perform the essential functions of your job. Remember, since Federal Disability Retirement is seen as a long-term benefit, your medical condition must be expected to last at least 12 months.

Both mental and physical conditions can qualify for Federal Disability Retirement and many of our clients are approved with multiple medical conditions. Some common conditions we see are; depression, PTSD, anxiety, degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel, and rotator cuff injuries.

Disability Retirement Processing Time

The time it takes to process a Disability Retirement application can vary significantly depending on the OPM’s backlog. We typically estimate around 6-9 months after your application has been submitted to the OPM. But in February 2024, the OPM’s retirement backlog dipped under 20,000 and they hit a new record low for processing time at 47 days. It’s important to keep in mind that the OPM reports on all retirement processing, which means this number includes a lot of very simple regular retirement cases. But this is still good news, and with the backlog decreasing, we hope to see Disability Retirement application processing improve.

If you think Federal Disability Retirement may be the solution you’ve been looking for, it’s critical to get your application right the first time. In some cases, Federal Disability Retirement can be a benefit worth well over $1,000,000 – that’s not something to risk.

The experts at our firm know firsthand that navigating your retirement can feel like a maze. So, we’ve designed a process that turns that maze into a straight road, with clear signposts at every point. We’ve helped more than 8,000 clients apply for Federal Disability Retirement at a 99% success rate and will be with you all the way, from your first call to the day you get approved. Send us a message, text us, or give us a call to schedule a free consultation today to learn what your options are.

Message us & find out if you qualify today!

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