I get this question a lot from Law Enforcement Officers and Air Traffic Controllers who have (usually) much higher retirement annuities by law. The question is: can I collect my ATC or LEO disability retirement, then go back to work for the federal government in another job and still collect my annuity?

Under this scenario, the former federal employee would be known as a re-employed annuitant. Generally, re-employed annuitants must make a service credit deposit to make up for the portions of re-employment service they performed on/after Oct. 1, 1982. The reason for this deposit is so that you can have your prior service considered in the computation of a supplemental annuity. As a re-employed annuitants, you can choose to have deductions for retirement withheld from your pay.

How is it different if you are a re-employed disability annuitant? First, you can be re-employed at any Federal Agency in any position for which you are qualified. Your employing agency will (and by law, must) notify OPM. The question then becomes whether your have recovered from their disability or restored to earning capacity . If so, OPM will discontinue the annuity effective on the date of re-employment. If not, the employing agency will reduce your pay by the “amount of annuity assignable to the period of re-employment”.

How will OPMdetermine if you are recovered? They will require you to provide current medical documentation about your condition if you are re-employed at a federal government Agency. If OPM determines that you are recovered (or have been restored to your earning capacity), it will cut off your annuity, tell the Agency to stop reducing your pay and, if your position is subject to retirement deductions, OPM will tell the Agency to start making those deductions.

Of course, there are many more rules that may apply to your unique set of facts. No post on this website is legal advice, is meant to be legal advice, and certainly does not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Information is power, and we are providing this information to give you, the federal employee, with some power. This information is not widely or easily accessible to Federal Employees.

The Law Office of Eric Pines represents Federal employees under FERS or CSRS in their applications for federal disability retirement to OPM. If an application for federal disability retirement is denied, the Firm represents Federal employees under both FERS and CSRS in their MSPB appeals of denials of federal disability retirement applications by OPM.

It is best to consult with a lawyer familiar with Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and disability retirement appeals to discuss the facts and law of your particular case. If you have questions about federal disability retirement under FERS or CSRS, or OPM’s denial of your applications for federal disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, contact an MSPB attorney at the Law Office of Eric Pines to schedule a telephone consultation.