What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Federal Disability Retirement?
Federal disability retirement is a benefit given to federal employees that allows them to retire early after an injury or disability. The disability must make it impossible for the employee to perform their job.
Importantly, this benefit allows the federal employee to continue receiving health and life insurance benefits and continue to accrue creditable years of service to extend the time needed for retirement. While receiving federal disability retirement benefits, they can work in the private sector for up to 80 percent of their last government salary.
What Are the Eligibility Criteria?
There are several eligibility requirements you must meet before the federal government will approve your application. The federal disability retirement system is complex. It is more likely your application will be approved when you work with an experienced employee rights attorney.
A federal employee in the civil service system must have five years of eligible employment, and a federal employee must have 18 months of creditable service to apply. These are the criteria to keep in mind if you’re considering filing a claim.
Disability because of a medical condition that results in service deficiency: This means that you were injured or became ill because of your job. The severity of your disability does not allow you to continue in your current position, and you cannot fill a vacant position at the same grade or pay level.
Your performance must be insufficient. This means that the medical condition must be considered disabling, and you must be able to prove you are unable to perform your job. Your disability must be classified as a disease or an injury for which your doctor can give you a specific diagnosis.
Continuity of disability: A federal employee must show that the medical condition they have is expected to continue for at least one year. If it is less than one year, the employee may qualify for long-term disability. To qualify for federal disability retirement benefits, a physician must attest to the expectation that the condition will continue for at least one year.
Cannot be reassigned: The employee must not decline any reasonable offer of reassignment to a vacant position. If the federal agency cannot accommodate the medical condition in the current position, they can offer a reassignment.
Your inability to work began after employment: You must show evidence that you could perform your job before this disability or injury. Successful performance appraisals can help meet this criterion. If you had the condition before employment, you must show that the condition was not disabling at the time you were hired but was exacerbated at a later point during your employment.
Apply for Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI): Federal employees under the age of 62 must apply for Social Security Disability insurance in order to qualify for federal disability retirement.
Can I Appeal a Denial?
If your application is denied, you have 30 days to request an appeal. It is important to gather new evidence or update material that supports your claim. The first appeal is a request for reconsideration. If that is denied, you may then request a Merit Systems Protection Board Review.
If you request such a review, an administrative law judge or a panel of judges will evaluate your evidence and decide your case. If you exhaust all administrative options, you can take your case to federal court. It is essential that each filing or appeal meet the filing deadlines. If you miss just one deadline, it may mean you relinquish your right to federal disability retirement benefits.
Contact The Vaughn Law Firm Today for Help with Your Federal Disability Retirement
If you were injured, got sick, or otherwise became disabled while you were a federal employee, you have rights. The federal disability retirement program can provide benefits for you. Contact The Vaughn Law Firm today to speak with an experienced employee rights attorney. Call our office today at 877-615-9495 for a free and confidential consultation.