Life After FERS Disability Retirement – To Work Or Not To Work?

FERS Disability Retirement (FDR) is a big transition, and unlike conventional retirement, FDR is typically unplanned.  In other words, most federal and postal workers intend to work until age 62 (or longer), and when they are confronted with the necessity of FDR, it really throws them for a loop.

To make matters worse, the FDR application and adjudication process is tedious and lengthy, which has a tendency to consume the applicant with anxiety and dread.  Once approved, the applicant typically feels an enormous sense of relief.  It doesn’t take long, however, for that nagging question to surface:

Now what?

First and foremost, FDR will allow you to prioritize your health, and depending on the seriousness of your medical conditions, this may consume a large percentage of your time.  Most FDR annuitants, however, find that they can manage their disabilities adequately and still have plenty of time remaining.  If you fall into this category, how will you choose to spend your time?  Go back to school?  Volunteer?  Pursue a long-held interest or hobby?

Or maybe one of your goals is to re-enter the workforce.

To Work or Not to Work?

Although many FDR annuitants are medically unable to work in any meaningful capacity, a far greater number are able to work in jobs/vocations that can accommodate their medical restrictions.  And if you’ve done your homework, you know that FDR annuitants are allowed to make up to 80% of the current salary of the job from which they have retired.  That is, FDR was intentionally designed to allow disabled workers the opportunity to re-enter the workforce in positions that are deemed medically suitable.

Although some FDR annuitants prefer to work to maintain a positive outlook and good self-esteem, I have found that the majority of my current and former clients need to work in order to supplement their annuity.  Think about it.  When your salary is suddenly slashed by 40 – 60%, it can be difficult to make ends meet for you and your family.

If you have a desire to start working again but don’t know where to begin, a great resource is Ability Jobs.  This job site is geared specifically toward individuals with disabilities.  Not only can you post your resume and search for employment opportunities, but you can participate in virtual job fairs right from the comfort of your own home.  And if you like their website, be sure to check out their award-winning, bi-monthly publication: Ability Magazine.

Bottom Line

If you are applying for FDR, or if you have already been approved, you need to come up with a game plan for the next phase of your life.  Having meaningful goals (e.g., health, work, travel, family, etc.) will give you a sense of purpose and help you to maintain feelings of well-being.  Regardless of how you decide to spend your time, I sincerely hope that your experience with “life after FDR” is one of optimal health and financial stability 😊.


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!