Are you thinking about applying for FERS Disability Retirement? If so, here are three things you should do before you initiate the application process. Check these items off your list, and set yourself up for success!
1. Get a FERS Benefits Estimate
I strongly suggest that you request a “FERS Benefits Estimate” from your agency. As the name implies, this document provides estimates of your monthly annuity during the three phases of disability retirement.
Make sure you understand how the agency arrived at your high-three-average salary, because this will be used to determine your 60% and 40% annuity amounts. Also, make sure that your creditable service is accurate and complete, because erroneous information could significantly reduce your annuity when you turn 62.
It should be noted that this estimate also provides information about other retirement options for which you may be eligible (for example, MRA + 10, MRA + 30, Discontinued Service Retirement (DSR), etc.).
In short, a FERS Benefits Estimate can help you make an informed decision about whether to pursue FERS Disability Retirement now or in the future.
2. Make Sure Your Doctor Is On Board
The most important part of your application, by far, is the statement drafted by your physician (i.e., SF 3112C: Physician’s Statement).
Without a strong, detailed testimonial from your doctor, it is highly unlikely that OPM will approve your claim. Note that SF 3112C requires your physician to provide all the following information:
- History/background of the disabling medical condition(s).
- List/discussion of past and present medications.
- List/discussion of past and present therapies and/or treatments.
- List/discussion of hospitalizations.
- List/discussion of relevant operative procedures and/or diagnostic tests.
- Detailed account of your symptoms and physical and/or mental limitations.
- List/discussion of medical restrictions.
- And most importantly, a detailed discussion of the causal relationship between your disabling medical condition(s) and your inability to perform one or more essential functions of your position of record.
This is a lot to ask of your doctor, so you may want to make sure that he/she is willing to fully support your disability claim before you initiate the application process.
3. Become Familiar with Your Benefits
Be proactive and gather information about FERS Disability Retirement so that you can make an informed decision about moving forward.
A great place to start is the OPM website at: https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/fers-information/types-of-retirement/#url=Disability. Here you will find a wealth of information about FERS Disability Retirement, including details about the eligibility requirements, annuity calculations, COLAs, interaction with SSDI and OWCP, etc.
Armed with this information, you’ll be in a good position to decide whether FERS Disability Retirement is a feasible option for you.
I hope you find this information helpful. For similar topics, please visit my Blog and FAQ. Should you ever have questions about your eligibility for FERS Disability Retirement, please contact me to schedule your free 30-minute consultation!