Federal employees who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being medically unable to continue performing the essential functions of their positions may be eligible for a disability retirement through their government retirement system. Generally speaking, federal employees covered by the CSRS or FERS retirement systems who meet basic eligibility requirements may qualify for a disability retirement if they find themselves in such a predicament where a medical condition has caused them to be unable to continue their government employment.
To apply for disability retirement, the employee must submit an Application for Immediate Retirement and an Application for Disability Retirement (SF3112).
The retirement application forms can be found on the OPM Website.
- You can access the Application for Immediate Retirement for FERS (SF3107) Here.
- You can access the Application for Immediate Retirement for CSRS (SF2801) Here.
- You can access the Application for Disability Retirement Here.
The disability retirement application consists of, in part, an “Applicant’s Statement of Disability,” whereby the applicant explains his or her disabling medical condition and its impact on the applicant’s ability to perform the essential functions of his or her position; a “Physician’s Statement” from the applicant’s treating physician explaining the employee’s medical condition and its impact on the employee’s ability to perform the functions listed in the employee’s position description; and a “Supervisor’s Statement” from the applicant’s supervisor noting whether and to what extent the employee has experienced attendance, performance, and/or conduct deficiencies.
When assessing whether to grant an application for disability retirement, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will analyze whether the documentation submitted by the applicant establishes several important elements, including:
- A deficiency in service with respect to performance, conduct or attendance, or in the absence of any actual service deficiency, showing that the medical condition is incompatible with either useful service or retention in the position.
- A medical condition, which is defined as a disease of injury.
- A relationship between the service deficiency and the medical condition such that the medical condition has caused the service deficiency.
- The duration of the medical condition, both past and expected; and a showing that the condition, in all probability, will continue for at least a year.
- The inability to render useful and efficient service arose while serving under the covered federal employee retirement system.
- The agency’s inability to reasonably accommodate the employee’s medical condition.
- The absence of another available position, within the employing agency and commuting area, at the same grade or pay level and tenure, to which the employee is qualified for reassignment, with accommodation.
Additionally, OPM must receive your disability retirement application within one year of the date you separate from service, if you end your federal employment prior to applying for disability retirement.
Unfortunately, OPM can take a very long time to issue decisions on disability retirement applications, and applicants should be prepared to wait upwards of six (6) months before receiving a decision on their disability retirement applications. Contacting your local congressperson’s office and requesting a congressional inquiry may help to reduce the wait time if you have been waiting a substantial amount of time for a decision on a disability retirement application.
If you are a federal government employee considering applying for disability retirement and would like to discuss your situation with an attorney, please call the law firm of Bonney, Allenberg, O’Reilly, & Eddy, P.C. to set up an initial consultation with one of our attorneys.