| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Employee Rights

If you are a federal employee and you are disabled, injured, or no longer capable of performing your job, you may be eligible for OPM disability retirement benefits. There are specific requirements needed to qualify for OPM disability retirement. Our federal employment law attorneys explain what you need to know to determine if you qualify for OPM disability retirement.

If you need help drafting an OPM disability retirement request, our federal OPM disability retirement attorneys are here to help you. Contact us today at (800) 801-0598 to schedule a consultation!

What Is OPM Disability Retirement?

OPM disability retirement is an employee benefit to help those who are unable to complete a normal career due to an illness or disability. You should consider applying for disability retirement only after you have provided your federal employee with complete documentation of your medical condition, and they have exhausted all reasonable accommodations available to make your work manageable.

OPM Disability Retirement Qualifications

To qualify for OPM disability retirement, federal employees must prove that they are unable to render useful and efficient service because of their disability or illness. They will need to demonstrate that they can’t perform their job in a current or vacant position at the same grade or pay level. A federal worker also needs to demonstrate that their disabling condition is expected to last at least one year.

However, unlike social security disability, workers don’t need to be totally disabled from working to obtain OPM disability retirement as long as the worker can demonstrate that they are disabled from performing at least one essential function from their position.

Federal employees qualify for OPM disability retirement under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement Service (CSRS). Below are the requirements needed for both the FERS and the CSRS.

Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) requirements:

  • 18 months of civilian service
  • Must become disabled while serving in a position covered by FERS
  • Must apply for Social Security benefits and must submit the proof in OPM application

Civil Service Retirement Service (CSRS) requirements:

  • Five years of civilian service
  • Must become disabled while serving in a position covered by CSRS
  • Must apply for Social Security benefits and must submit the proof in OPM application

What If I’ve Been Separated from Federal Service?

To qualify for OPM disability, your application for disability retirement must be received by OPM within one year after the date of your separation. If you’ve been separated from federal service for more than 31 days, your former federal employer may no longer have access to your personnel records and, therefore, might not be able to recover them in time to process your disability retirement application and submit it to the OPM within the year limit. For such reason, we advise that you submit your OPM disability request directly to OPM instead of submitting it with your employer.

Seek Legal Guidance With Your OPM Case

Drafting a disability application can be complex, and a simple mistake can affect your case’s outcome. Our team at Pines Federal can work with you to gather the various components of your disability application to ensure that you meet all the requirements.

We know how to draft your request to your employer and address and objections if they claim it would cause undue hardship on the employer. We can provide you with the best possible chance of having your application approved, thus avoiding delays in compensation. We’ve been helping federal employees for over 50 years, and we are ready to help you too.

Contact our federal employment law attorneys today at (800) 801-0598 to schedule a consultation!

Author Photo

Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach. He represents federal employees and acts as in-house counsel for over fifty thousand federal employees through his work as a federal employee labor union representative.

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