Federal Employee Retirement
System (FERS)

PlaceHolder Medical Disability Retirement

  • You cannot continue to do the work for which you were hired 
  • Cannot perform any gainful employment 
  • The disability must be expected to last at least one year. 
  • Easier and fairer than Social Security Disability 
  • Requires a physician's medical opinion, following OPM rules 
  • OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit granted to all Federal Employees who meet the criteria of "Disability". By "Disability", however, it does not mean that you must be completely physically incapacitated; rather, it means that you are no longer able to provide effective service in the essential elements of your job. As such, you do not need to be "totally disabled" in order to be eligible for Federal or Postal disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS.

    The Office of Personnel Management carefully reviews all applications for Federal Disability Retirement. It is a benefit which should be looked at as an entitlement and an investment.

    Applying for Disability Retirement
    You should consider applying for disability retirement only after you have provided your employing agency with complete documentation of your medical condition and your agency has exhausted all reasonable attempts to retain you in a productive capacity, through accommodation or reassignment.

    Eligibility Requirements
    You must meet all of the following conditions to be eligible for disability retirement:
  • You must have completed at least 18 months of Federal civilian service which is creditable under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). 
  • You must, while employed in a position subject to the retirement system, have become disabled, because of disease or injury, for useful and efficient service in your current position. 
  • The disability must be expected to last at least one year. 
  • Your agency must certify that it is unable to accommodate your disabling medical condition in your present position and that it has considered you for any vacant position in the same agency at the same grade or pay level, within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment. 
  • You, or your guardian etc., must apply before your separation from service or within one year thereafter. The application must be received by either OPM or your former employing agency within one year of the date of your separation. 
  • You must apply for social security disability benefits. Application for disability retirement under FERS requires an application for social security benefits. If the application for social security disability benefits is withdrawn for any reason, OPM will dismiss the FERS disability retirement application upon notification from the Social Security Administration. 

  • Payment at Death

    If an employee dies and a survivor benefit was not chosen, then any unpaid balance of employee contributions is paid to the beneficiary designated. If the employee did not designate a beneficiary, then the "statutory order of precedence" is used, as follows:

  • To the widow or widower 
  • To any surviving children or their descendants 
  • To any surviving parent or parents 
  • To the court-appointed executor or administrator of the estate 
  • To the next of kin as determined state law where the employee lived at death