Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management is an independent benefit from an independent agency. However, there may be some intersecting features which are important to understand, prior to beginning the process.
A disability annuity, whether under FERS or CSRS, has an “off-set” feature with certain other federal annuities, by statutory mandate and direction, but not with certain others. For instance, there is a coordinating offset with Social Security Disability (under FERS), and an election must be made between OWCP Temporary Total Disability payments and Federal Disability Retirement benefits (except for scheduled awards). On the other hand, there is no offset between a Federal Disability Retirement annuity and VA disability payments.
In making a decision as to whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, each Federal and Postal employee should be fully informed as to the offsets with other Federal benefits and payments, as well as whether there are limits and restrictions as to the amount of other “earned income” a person may be allowed to make.
The importance of finding out which benefits are fully or partially offset is important in making a final decision as to whether it is financially feasible to proceed in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application. Of course, in the end, it is usually a medical decision which is paramount — out of necessity, and not out of choice– as opposed to a financial one. However, it is nevertheless important to know what is on the other side of the cave, before one enters it to begin with.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire