How Social Security Affects Public Service Disability Benefits

Although no one likes to think about the prospect of becoming disabled, it is important to understand disability coverage under civil service pension programs as well as under the Social Security program – particularly interesting for those which come under the FERS system, but also for many under CSRS.

Civil service and social security disability programs are integrated to some extent. This means that those who become disabled may not receive all benefits under more than one system and must be very careful to protect their rights under each. In fact, employees under FERS and CSRS-Offset (a form of CSRS that includes Social Security, unlike standard CSRS) must apply to Social Security when applying for Federal Retirement Disability to ensure that services are coordinated.

In short, employees who become disabled during their federal career may qualify for a disability pension. Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, they must have completed at least five years of federal civilian service; under FERS, only 18 months. In addition, while holding a position covered by CSRS/CSRS-Offset or FERS, they must have become disabled for “useful and efficient service” both in their current position and in any other vacant position at the same grade or level. compensation for which they are qualified.

“Useful and efficient service” means: either an acceptable performance of the critical or essential elements of the position, or the ability to function at this level; and ability to maintain satisfactory conduct and attendance.

Conversely, service that is not “useful or efficient” is a level of performance or attendance which, if continued, would justify the denial of an increment, demotion or other corrective action.

In the context of social security, the rules are much more complicated. The Social Security office will review it to see if you meet the basic requirements for disability benefits. They look at whether you’ve worked long enough and recently enough, your age and, if you’re applying for benefits as a family member, your relationship to the worker. And you must be practically unable to work at all.

Traveling is the most common dream for retirement, followed by spending more time with family and friends and pursuing hobbies, survey finds, while the most common fears are about surviving savings and deterioration of health.

Hopes were cited far more often than fears in a survey of some 10,000 workers by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, in which respondents could select one of the lists that applied to them. For example, while 65% dream of traveling, 42% fear outliving their investments.

On the dream side, spending more time with family friends and pursuing hobbies were cited by 59 and 51%, while 5% said they had no retirement dreams. Between them there were dreams like volunteering, caring for family, or starting their own business.

On the fear side, declining health and the prospect of reduced social security benefits upon retirement, while 10% said they have no fear of retirement. In between were fears related to the first two, such as the inability to meet financial needs and cognitive decline.

Reflecting concerns about finances, “nearly half of workers (49%) expect to retire after age 65 or do not plan to retire. Almost three in 10 expect to retire before age 65 (29%) and 23% expect to retire at age 65,” he said. The pandemic has changed pension plans by about a third, he added, with those planning to delay retirement outnumbering those planning to bring it forward by more than two to one.

Additionally, “more than half of workers (57%) plan to work in retirement, either full-time (20%) or part-time (37%). Twenty-seven percent do not plan to work in retirement and 17 percent are “unsure”.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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