CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: OPM & SSDI

In filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System), the applicant must file for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) sometime prior to the approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  This is because the “system” of FERS is tied to the Social Security System, and the Federal Government wants to see whether or not a FERS disability retirement applicant is concurrently eligible and entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.  Those Federal or Postal Workers who are still under the “old system” (CSRS — Civil Service Retirement System) — and you are getting rarer and fewer each year — need not apply.  Those who are of a “hybrid” nature (CSRS offset, etc.) also should apply.

 There is an inconsistency in the way the Office of Personnel Management “requires” the filing for SSDI.  Sometimes, OPM will insist that a FERS Federal Disability Retirement applicant file for SSDI and obtain a receipt only after he or she has been unemployed or separated from the Federal Agency; other times, OPM will be fully satisfied with a receipt of an SSDI filing obtained even while employed by the agency, even though it would mean that an SSDI denial was based upon employment, and not upon whether a person was disabled or not.  In any event, an applicant who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS should comply with the requirement by filing for SSDI, and getting a receipt showing that one has filed.  


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

One Response

  1. Hi Mr. McGill, I was approved for my disability retirement in Sept 2010 and had a few weeks left of annual leave to use, so my official end date is Nov. 12, 2010.

    I have a huge problem with OPM. First (and thankfully) I am getting my intrim check @ 60%. That started in Jan 2011. The problem is I continually call and email OPM to find out my status as to when I will be finalized. I am spending all day everyday on the phone hitting redial because the phone rings busy all day long. There is absolutely no way to get into them. I have searched the net and any other resourse I can find to get a different phone number to call but it is always the same situation. I also email, but have pretty much given up on that because as of my last email in March they still have not responded. I finally got in today and OPM told me they are under no time standards because my retirement is a disability retirement and it can take up to 18 months, rudely I might add.

    Do you have any suggestions or other avenues I should try? I did write my Senator (John McCain) and he asked me to sign a waiver so that his office could check into it. But nothing so far.

    My savings which I used with the 60% intrim check have now run out. Next month I will not be able to make my mortgage payment. When I spoke to OPM today I actually begged for help, tellling them I will be losing my home. I don’t know what I will do. I was a faithful employee for 24 yrs and would still be working if my health had not given out. The lady I spoke to gave me the number of the office where my file is located, the number is 1.202.606.0453. I called the number and the recording said that there were 600,000 or so calls ahead of me. Obviously the phone has never been answered and there is no intention to answer it.

    I am surprised that I am calmly typing this after spending the day in tears. I actually made an appointment with my doctor tomorrow because I will admit the thought of having a lifelong medical issue, combined with the reality of losing everything I have worked for all these years, because my file is sitting on someones desk, I will admit I feel suicidal. I no longer have my health or resources to be able to work so I see no way to proceed. If I can’t make my mortgage next month and it could take up to 18mos to be finalized, as you can see it just doesn’t look good. I just don’t know what to do at this point.

    If you should have any suggestions I am all ears. I will appreciate any help you might be aware of. Thanks so much.

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