As part of the filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee who is under FERS (CSRS is exempted from this procedural requirement) must file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
How aggressively should one file for SSDI, and when should it be filed? The latter question will be taken up first: as a practical matter, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does not need to see a receipt showing that one has filed for SSDI until the date of an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application.
However, most agencies are under the mis-impression that, procedurally, it must be accomplished prior to submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and some agencies actually misinform Federal and Postal employees by insisting that one must receive a “decision” from the Social Security Administration prior to submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, with OPM. That is simply untrue. All that OPM requires is a mere receipt showing that you filed. This can be completed and a receipt printed out, by filing online.
As for the extent of one’s efforts in filing for SSDI? In order to answer that, multiple questions should be asked of one’s self: Will I be working at another job in the private sector while on FERS disability annuity? Do I plan to make more than the low threshold ceiling of allowable earned income which Social Security allows for? How likely will it be to qualify for the higher standard of being unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity” under SSDI rules?
These are all questions which should be asked in the course of filing for SSDI under the FERS program of applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. Remember, it is the question which narrowly focuses the answer; without the former, it is unlikely that one will arrive with accuracy unto the latter.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire