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    FERS DR and SSDI?

    Hello,

    This question is very specific to those working for the federal government and covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System, FERS. I am eligible for an immediate annuity as I have enough time working (33 years) and I meet the minimum retirement age. I wanted to work 5 more years to take advantage of a 10% increase in my annuity for working to age 62. When I told this to my neuro he flatly said I will not be able to work that long given that I am secondary progressive and my symptoms are worsening faster every day it seems.

    My neuro has given me a letter stipulating that I can only work 4 days/week and I have been approved for reasonable accomodation. I am using sick leave and am still considered full time but my neuro has suggested that it may be time to consider going out on Disability Retirement, DR.

    What I am trying to determine is, if I go out on FERS DR, which requires that I apply for SSDI, do I receive the full amount of both payments? According to the SSA website, the amount I would receive for SSDI is close to what I would receive if I waited to start receiving social security at age 67. If I receive both my FERS DR and the full amount of SSDI, my wife and I would be alright financially but I don't want to start this process until I know for sure if there would be any deductions from these payments.

    Once payments start, there is no going back and I've heard stories of folks not receiving as much as they anticipated and winding up in a bad financial situation. I want to avoid that, especially as my wife is already on SSDI and is not able to work. I am still able to work but I know my performance is declining and my quality of life is not great as I have no energy to do anything else other than work. My neuro told me I am shortening my life by being stressed and pushing myself to continue working.

    I hear his words in my head saying I am shortening my life and it has me thinking more and more about priorities in my life and killing myself in order to work is not a priority for me!

    I know this is a specialized situation but I thought I would post this question here in case someone else working for Uncle Sam has experienced this process. Any suggestions, thoughts or input is welcome!

    #2
    MS TOO,

    I assisted a claimant sometime ago in her SSDI and FERS claims, and -- if I recall correctly -- there was a reduced total benefit amount as a result of collecting under both programs. I do not recall which program's benefits were reduced.

    -Jamie R. Hall, Esq.
    Attorney Jamie R. Hall's practice is focused on assisting individuals with claims and appeals for Social Security Disability and Long Term Disability benefits. He has assisted claimants nationwide, approximately half of whom are MS patients, from his Pennsylvania and Ohio locations. **No attorney/client relationship is created by this communication, and information provided herein is not a substitute for formal advisement.**

    Comment


      #3
      I do not know anything about FERS, but your statement that they require you to apply for SSDI would indicate that they will reduce your benefit by the SSDI amount. If you were allowed to collect the full amount of both, they wouldn’t care whether you applied or not.

      I was covered by my employer in a group disability plan. They required that I apply for SSDI and even provided access to a company that facilitates the application process. Then they offset their payments by that amount.

      Good luck with this.

      Comment


        #4
        I googled FERS+SSDI. One of the sites returned was FEDweek. I am not sure of the origins of this site. It appears to be a site created by a retired federal employee and keeps up to date on employee and retiree information. It did return some great articles.

        From the site:
        If under 62
        "If you are under age 62 and aren’t eligible to retire voluntarily, your disability annuity will be calculated as follows:

        • For the first 12 months you’ll be paid 60 percent of your high-3 minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit you are entitled to.
        • After the first 12 months you’ll be paid 40 percent of your high-3 minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit you are entitled to."

        At 62:
        "If you retire on disability before age 62, when you finally reach that age, your disability benefit will be recomputed as if you had worked to age 62. The time you were on the disability roll will be added to your earned service and the total multiplied by 0.01 percent, unless you have 20 years of creditable service (including your time on disability) and are at least 62 years old. If so, the multiplier would be increased to 0.011. The product of that calculation will be 1) multiplied by your high-3 on the day you went on disability retirement and 2) increased by all FERS COLAs that were paid out between that date and age 62.

        Social Security
        Because FERS employees are also covered by Social Security, you’ll need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time you apply for a FERS disability benefit. If you don’t, OPM won’t process your application.

        COLAs
        While you will be eligible for annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), regardless of the age at which you retire on disability, you won’t be entitled to receive the special retirement supplement, which approximates the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a FERS employee."

        The above seemed consistent with some of the other sites also returned by the Google search criteria I used. You will want to verify the above with whomever administers your benefits. Do you have an employee benefit guidebook?
        Kathy
        DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

        Comment


          #5
          Hello and thanks for the replies! The information from the OPM website is a little confusing in my situation. The reduction portion of that statue says that if you are not eligible to retire voluntarily then your annuity will be reduced but, it doesn't say that it won't be reduced or how it works if you are eligilbe to retire voluntarily. And that is the position I am in, I have enough years and meet the minimum age and could retire today, it just isn't clear how it works, do I get my annuity refigured at 62 as if I worked? I think so but this doesn't say anything about SSDI being reduced and I don't know how I can determine how this would work. I may have to find an attorney that has experience with this specific circumstance? Maybe I can find someone knowledable at SSA? Do they have experienced folks that could answer this at that agency?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by MS TOO View Post
            Hello and thanks for the replies! The information from the OPM website is a little confusing in my situation. The reduction portion of that statue says that if you are not eligible to retire voluntarily then your annuity will be reduced but, it doesn't say that it won't be reduced or how it works if you are eligilbe to retire voluntarily. And that is the position I am in, I have enough years and meet the minimum age and could retire today, it just isn't clear how it works, do I get my annuity refigured at 62 as if I worked? I think so but this doesn't say anything about SSDI being reduced and I don't know how I can determine how this would work. I may have to find an attorney that has experience with this specific circumstance? Maybe I can find someone knowledable at SSA? Do they have experienced folks that could answer this at that agency?
            Hi MS TOO

            Can you talk to someone in Human Resources for the explanation?

            Take Care
            PPMS for 22 years (dx 1998)
            ~ Worrying will not take away tomorrow's troubles ~ But it will take away today's peace. ~

            Comment


              #7
              It seems you have two separate questions.

              The first, when taking early retirement (not disability retirement), is your annuity recalculated at 62? Only your benefits administration can answer this. Just my own thought, not sure why it would be recalculated if you are collecting your full retirement benefit? Are you also getting a supplement to social security that would go away at 62?

              The second, if SSDI is awarded, does it affect your annuity and/or is your SSDI award reduced? I would think Social Security should be able to answer this. Again just my thought, but if you are retired and not on disability retirement, I would think SSDI would be independent. I don't think retirement income is counted as monthly income. If you were getting a supplement for social security, how would it affect SSDI? I would make an appointment with SSA to review.

              Lots of luck.
              Kathy
              DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by TheMSLawyer View Post
                MS TOO,

                I assisted a claimant sometime ago in her SSDI and FERS claims, and -- if I recall correctly -- there was a reduced total benefit amount as a result of collecting under both programs. I do not recall which program's benefits were reduced.

                -Jamie R. Hall, Esq.
                Jamie,

                Would you happen to know an attorney with recent experience with FERS and SSDI that I could ask about how the reduction in benefits works? I still hope to work another 1-2 years if possible but I also want to know how the process would work and how much income I would receive if I were to go out on disability.

                Thank you!

                Comment

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