OPM Disability Retirement: Social Security Disability

Under the rules concerning FERS disability retirement applications, one must file for Social Security Disability.  As most people already know, there is an interaction/offset between Social Security Disability benefits and FERS disability benefits, if both are approved (100% offset in the first year of annuity, 60% offset every year thereafter).  One would assume (dangerously, as it turns out), that if an application for Social Security disability is approved, that it would automatically render an approval under FERS disability retirement a “sure” thing.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The fact that Social Security has a higher standard of proof — where one must be considered “totally disable” as opposed to (under the legal standards for FERS) “disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job”) — one would think that, legally and logically, if you have met the higher legal standard of proof, then the lesser standard would have been automatically met.  Unfortunately, because the two standards are applied in different, independent agencies, the fact that Social Security Disability benefits are awarded is not a guarantee that the FERS disability retirement application will automatically be granted.  However, there is clear case-law stating that OPM must consider the approval by SSD as one factor among many in the consideration of FERS disability retirement applications.  It is important to cite such cases in support of your application for FERS disability retirement.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

3 Responses

  1. If you are denied SS disability, will you still be able to qualify OPM disability? or is it contingent on getting both?

  2. i am getting ssdi and i am applying for fers disability under usps(opm). i understand there is one year full benefits of fers. but what would happen if i want to keep ssdi fully because ssdi pays child benefits while fers doesnt. at second year..

    first year 100 percentage and second year 60 percentage and third year 40 percentage.. so do they mean that fers keep reducing while ssdi is at stand flat?

  3. What is my FER disability is less than my Social Security Benefit, what happens then? If SSD is paying me $15,000 annually but my FER “average high 3” is $12,000 a year, given I was in a low grade position in the Federal Government. Do I not get FER’s disability at all at that point?

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