FERS Disability Retirement & SSA Awards

When filing for FERS Disability Retirement, one is required to file for SSA Disability at some point in the process.  Some Human Resource offices have declared that it must be filed prior to OPM’s acceptance of a Federal Disability Retirement application; this is not true.  A receipt showing that SSA has been filed can be forwarded to OPM at any time — even after approval.

In the unlikely event that the SSA filing is approved prior to the FERS Disability Retirement being approved, it is important for the applicant to send to OPM a copy of the award notice, because under Trevan v. OPM, the Office of Personnel Management is required to consider the award of SSA Disability, together with other medical documentation, in reviewing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

There are other steps that need to be taken, of course, to ensure that OPM considers such an SSA Award properly and in accordance with the holding in Trevan; and, in most cases, of course, it will not be an issue, because the majority of OPM Disability Retirement applicants will not qualify for SSA Disability; rather, it is a formality that must be satisfied, simply because the law requires it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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