Understanding How the Federal Employee Disability Retirement Program Can Be a Windfall to Qualifying Individuals

Federal employees become eligible for Federal Employee Disability Retirement (also known as OPM Disability), procured through the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), as a result of acquiring some medical condition or physical injury through the course of their work that prevents them from continuing their employment. A person only qualifies if their disability makes it impossible for them to continue to complete their job duties despite efforts to accommodate.

Many ask if someone benefitting from OPM Disability can work in another job. There is often a lot of confusion surrounding these topics, as some government programs restrict individuals from working alternate jobs or earning income above a certain threshold.

The good news is OPM Disability beneficiaries can indeed work other jobs without jeopardizing their eligibility. Not only can you work in another, unrelated job without receiving a reduction in your annuity, but you can also make up to 80% of your former federal salary.

The 80% income threshold is a stunning benefit if you consider its full implications. Consider a scenario where you made $100,000 from your federal government job that led to your disability. You will be able to pursue an unrelated contracting job that pays up to $79,999 annually, plus $60,000 for your first year and $40,000 annually thereafter. The government will also pay into your FEHB retirement annuity, and you will be able to keep your federal health benefits – even though you are working for another company.

Taking this scenario to its natural conclusion, you could make $139,999 in your first year – plus the federal benefits you would have received had you continued to be employed part-time. While having a disability is never an ideal scenario, this benefit can easily be an extremely lucrative boon. As Billie Holiday once sang, “Nice work, if you can get it.”

The benefits can get even better for a brief period as you grow older. When you turn 60, you can make any amount of money – the 80% threshold does not apply – until you turn age 62. At that point, you will switch to regular retirement.

We Can Help You Leverage Your OPM Disability Benefits

Acquiring a disability through your federal employment is never an ideal scenario, especially if it threatens your ability to remain employed. Keep in mind that you have made FERS annuity payments throughout the years of your employment, so you have a right to utilize those benefits to maximum effect. If you are able to secure alternate employment after becoming disabled in a federal position, you should make every effort to secure the greatest level of legally permissible income.

Our attorneys at Pines Federal are prepared to assist you with your Federal Employee Disability Retirement claim. We have ample experience helping clients communicate with the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM), resolve issues, and gain access to their benefits. Our team can advise on how best to navigate conditions of your annuity payments, including earning the maximum amount of income through alternate means of employment.

Call (800) 801-0598 or contact us online to schedule a time to discuss your case.