Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

An Overview for Federal Employees (FERS) & Civil Service Employees (CSRS)

If you are a Federal Employee or a Civil Servant, you may be entitled to Disability Benefits under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). That means that in addition to coverage through your Basic Benefits Plan, you can receive a disability retirement annuity should you experience a debilitating physical or mental illness or injury that renders you unable to perform your occupation as you had always performed it.

What Does It Mean To Be Disabled?

Disabled does not necessarily mean you are bed-ridden or confined to a wheelchair. Rather, being disabled means you have suffered an injury or illness that prevents you from performing in your current job position. For example, a Postal Employee who suffers from a leg injury may no longer be able to walk door-to-door delivering mail. Or, an Internal Revenue Service Employee with a back injury may no longer be able to sit at a desk for hours at a time. In either case, the injury may not prohibit the employee from leading an otherwise normal life. However, the injury or illness does impede upon his or her ability to continue normally in his or her job function.

Some Background On FERS & CSRS

The Civil Service Retirement System was officially formed in 1920. As it pre-dates the Social Security System, CSRS was intended to provide financial assistance to Civil Servants when they left the civil service workforce for retirement. The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), on the other hand, is a late 20th century system that was created to be more compatible with private sector retirement plans.

Is This Workers Compensation?

No. There is a difference between Disability Retirement Annuity/Civil Service Retirement Annuity and Federal Workers Compensation. Federal Workers Compensation are benefits paid to you when you have experienced an on-the-job injury. However, Disability Retirement Annuity Benefits (for both FERS and CSRS) are paid to you whether or not your injury or illness is job-related. While you may be eligible for either program, you cannot receive both simultaneously. Before you make this important decision that will affect you and your family, seek the advice of an attorney experienced in disability law.

5 Good Reasons To Hire An Attorney For Your FERS/CSRS Disability Claim . . .

If you currently are working and struggling with an illness or injury, you may want to consider filing for a FERS disability retirement annuity or a CSRS disability retirement annuity.  Here are five good reasons you should consult with a attorney knowledgeable in FERS/CSRS disability law BEFORE filing a claim:

  1. There are numerous forms to fill out, and each form requires extremely detailed information.  When you are compiling the information you need to submit, there is the possibility you might leave something out – something pertinent to your claim.  An attorney knowledgeable in FERS/CSRS disability law will review your claim forms to insure their completion and accuracy.  An attorney can help you to avoid making a mistake on your application, and it always is easier to avoid a mistake than to correct one.
  2. An attorney who handles FERS/CSRS disability claims will know of any changes in the law, requirements, or limitations that may affect your claim.  An attorney will be on top of all deadlines that must be met in order to file a FERS/CSRS disability claim successfully. (Remember, missing a deadline may adversely affect your claim.) Bottom line: he or she will know the law.
  3. When you file a FERS/CSRS disability claim, you will need to submit complete medical support documentation.  An attorney well-versed in FERS/CSRS disability law will know precisely what medical information is necessary to obtain a successful outcome.
  4. There always is the possibility that your claim will be denied.  In that event, if you retained an attorney BEFORE filing your original claim, that attorney will have all the information he or she will need to evaluate your case for a potential request for reconsideration.  This can save you substantial time.
  5. And finally, navigating through the FERS/CSRS disability claims process can be overwhelming, particularly if you are suffering from a disabling illness or injury.  Retaining an attorney knowledgeable in FERS/CSRS disability law will save you tremendous stress and aggravation.  When you are disabled, you need to focus on getting better, not on applying for benefits.

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  • FERS Question of the Week

    QUESTION: Can I change my retirement status to disability retirement?

    ANSWER: Yes, but you must have become disabled while working for the federal government. Both you and your employer will be required to submit evidence to support this. Additionally, you both will be required to prove that your disability impaired your ability to work effectively in our position, and you must not have turned down reassignment in the same commuting area at the same pay grade, tenure or pay level.

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