As a federal employee, you are entitled to certain benefits. The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) provides retirement annuities if you cannot work because of a disability.
To qualify, you must have been employed for at least 18 months and submit your application within one year of separation. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will review your application and determine your eligibility.
This page will explain how to apply for federal disability retirement. If you have questions, plan to meet with one of our attorneys. We can tell you what documentation you need, how to complete the forms, and when to apply. We will even provide you with a letter for your doctor that ensures your disability documentation fits OPM’s guidelines.
The Process of Applying for Federal Employee Disability Retirement Through OPM
Like many government systems, the application process for medical retirement with the federal government is detailed and time-consuming. Our attorneys recommend these steps for how to apply for federal disability retirement.
1. Determine if You Qualify
There is no minimum age requirement for disability benefits.
Instead, you must show evidence that:
- You became disabled because of a disease or injury while employed in a position subject to FERS;
- You experience a deficiency in service relating to performance, attendance, or conduct, or that your medical condition is incompatible with useful and efficient service in your current employment;
- The medical condition caused the service deficiency; and
- You expect your disability to last at least one year.
Additionally, you must have informed your employer of your disability. Federal agencies must provide accommodations or reassignments for disabled workers.
If your employer cannot accommodate your condition or find a vacant position for which you are suitable (at the same grade or pay level within the same commuting region), you can apply for FERS benefits.
2. Establish Evidence of Your Disability
You must provide adequate documentation of your disability when you submit your FERS disability retirement application. Medical documentation will usually be information from your personal physician.
The documentation should include the following:
- Clinical information, including your medical history, findings from a medical evaluation, diagnosis, assessment of current condition and treatment, and an estimated date of recovery; and
- An explanation of the medical condition’s effect on life activities on and off the job, including a narrative explaining whether your condition has stabilized, may cause incapacitation, adequate accommodations needed, and risk of harm.
Your physician’s statements must enable OPM to conclude that you have a medical issue that impedes your service.
Our FERS disability attorneys will provide you with a letter to take to your doctor’s appointment. The personalized template letter lets your doctor easily complete the paperwork to document your disability. Plus, you will know your doctor has answered all OPM’s questions before you apply.
3. Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is required to apply for FERS disability benefits. You do not have to receive SSDI, but you must apply. You must attach a copy of your SSDI application to your FERS application. Even if the Social Security Administration denies SSDI, you could still qualify for FERS disability.
4. Complete the Federal Disability Retirement Forms
To complete your application, you need to complete two forms available from OPM:
- Standard Form 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement; and
- Standard Form 3112, Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement Application.
These forms ask for details to confirm your federal service and benefits eligibility. Your employing agency or physician will complete some of the forms.
5. Submit Your Application for Disability Retirement to the Federal Government
If you are still working or have separated in the last 30 days, submit your application to the agency’s personnel office. If you separated from your employer more than 30 days ago, the agency would have forwarded your personnel file to OPM.
You will submit your documents directly to OPM. However, the employing agency still needs to complete certain forms for your application.
You have options if you do not think you will have the forms back from the agency in time. You may send OPM the completed SF 3107 and SF 3112A with the contact information for the person you asked to complete the remaining forms.
We Can Guide You Through the FERS Application Process
At Pines Federal, we have over 60 years of combined experience assisting federal employees in securing their retirement benefits. When you meet with one of our disability retirement attorneys, we will walk you through the FERS application process.
Our extensive experience and track record of success make us trusted advocates for federal employees from diverse occupations. Let us provide you with the legal knowledge, insight, and broad perspective to secure the benefits you deserve.