Don’t Let OPM Short-Change Your Disability Retirement Annuity
Sometimes the most difficult part of the Disability Retirement Annuity process is not the application, but is instead getting the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to select the correct start date for the annuity. It is not uncommon for a Federal Government employee to apply and be approved for a Disability Retirement Annuity, only to have the wrong start date selected.
The first 12 months of the FERS disability retirement annuity is equal to 60% of the employee’s “high three” salary minus social security benefits, and the rate for the CSRS disability retirement annuity is 40% of the employee’s “high three” salary. Therefore, any error in the disability annuity start date could mean a loss of thousands of dollars of income for the annuitant.
Federal employees whose applications for disability retirement have been approved, are entitled to compensation back to the day after the last day in pay status. See, 5 CFR 844.301. While sometimes the employee’s last day in pay status is the date of termination, in many cases disabled employees deplete their leave and are on Leave Without Pay (LWOP). If the employee is using donated leave or advanced sick leave and as such have sporadic days in pay status, disability retirement benefits will commence the day after the last day in pay status, even if there were LWOP days prior to the last day in pay status.
Unfortunately, for employees who have been on LWOP before their employment terminated, OPM often incorrectly uses the last date of their federal employment as the benchmark for commencing the disability retirement annuity. When this happens, the employee will need to contact OPM and request that the date be changed based upon their last day in pay status; if this request is denied it should be done in the form of a final decision that the employee can then appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
If you are a federal government employee who would like assistance with your federal disability retirement annuity, please contact our office online or via telephone at (301) 869-8774 to schedule a consultation.
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