Disability Benefits & the Special Rules
It’s quite unfortunate when a postal employee develops a physical or mental impairment that makes it difficult for them to continue with their services. Once the condition has been confirmed and is expected to carry on for at least a year, these employees are eligible to apply for disability retirement. For permanent disability, once the benefits are granted, they can’t be reviewed. If benefits are not granted then periodic medical evaluations will take place until the employee reaches the age of 60.
Under the plan of FERS and CSRS, the benefits of disability are payable as long as the disability makes it impossible for the employee to carry out the everyday duties of their position. However, the length of service years required to be eligible to apply for disability retirement is different for both parties. That is, it’s different for employees of FERS and CSRS. While an employee of FERS needs to have finished 18 months of civilian service, an employee of CSRS, on the other hand, must have finished five years.
To apply for a disability retirement plan, you need to send the necessary paperwork to OPM. This can be done by your agency and also, your agency needs to confirm that it cannot accommodate your situation in your present position or in any other position that is in the same pay and grade.
Also, CSRS Offset or employees of FERS also need to apply to the SSA for disability retirement. The SSA has a different and a higher standard which they use to decide if you are considered disabled or not. Their rules demand that you be severely disabled for approval, and require you to be unable to carry out your duties as an employee.
Note that disability retirement is a different benefit on its own as its different from the compensation provided by the Federal Employees Compensation Act and run by the Labor Department, and covers only the injuries or illnesses related to work. Ideally, if you qualify for both federal disability retirement and FECA benefits, you can’t go for both. You must choose one.
As a disabled worker, how much of a benefit can you receive?
As an employee of CSRS, you are given about 40 percent of your high-3, which is the average of your 3 highest paying salaries.
If you are below the age of 62 and you are an employee of FERS, in the first twelve months you could be paid 60 percent of your high-3 salary minus 100 percent of the benefit for social security disability.
Regardless of if you are an employee of FERS or CSRS, if the benefits you earned based on your service years is more than these figures, you should receive a higher amount. When you are 62 years of age, your benefits package is reevaluated.