While no one likes to think about the prospect of becoming disabled, it is important to understand disability coverage under the civil service retirement programs as well as under the Social Security program. The civil service and Social Security disability programs have been integrated to an extent. This means that those who become disabled may not receive full benefits under more than one system, and that they must be careful to protect their rights under each. In fact, employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Offset (a form of CSRS that includes Social Security, unlike standard CSRS) must apply to Social Security when they apply for federal retirement disability in order to assure that the benefits are coordinated.
Employees who become disabled during the course of their federal career may be entitled to a disability annuity. Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, they must have completed at least five years of federal civilian service; under FERS, only 18 months. Also, while employed in a position covered by either CSRS/CSRS-Offset or FERS, they must have become disabled for “useful and efficient service” in both their current position and any other vacant position at the same grade or pay level for which qualified.
“Useful and efficient service” means: either acceptable performance of the critical or essential elements of the position or the ability to perform at that level; and ability to maintain satisfactory conduct and attendance. Conversely, service that is not “useful or efficient” is a level of performance or attendance which, if it were to continue, would warrant denial of a within-grade increase, demotion or other remedial action.
Under Social Security, the rules for what it means to be disabled are stricter and more complicated. The fact that you qualify for benefits from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) does not necessarily mean that you will be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
If you or someone you know if interested in filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits, please contact us for a free case evaluation!
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®