FERS Disability Retirement: The Simplicity of the Complex

Last Updated on December 1, 2022 by Federal Disability Lawyer

It is not the forms which make it complex — although, the instructions which accompany the filling out of the Standard Forms make it appear more convoluted than necessary.

Federal Disability Retirement for FERS employees of the Federal Government and the U.S. Postal Service is actually quite simple in conceptual terms, and in the process of attempting to win an approval from the Office of Personnel Management, we encounter the complexity of the entire administrative process, thereby overlooking the simplicity of the actual law underlying the process.

That is why it is often a good idea to periodically pause and “go back to basics” before moving forward on a FERS Disability Retirement application.  As stated multiple times, disability retirement is essentially the linking of a “nexus” between one’s medical conditions, and one’s Federal or Postal position.

By “linking” is meant the following: Does the medical condition from which one suffers prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?  If the answer to the question is “yes”, then you have passed the preliminary, fundamental, preconditional question.  The next question, or series of questions, of course, include the following: Do you have the minimum of 18 months of Federal Service (for CSRS individuals, 5 years)? Do you have a supportive doctor? Will your medical condition last for at least 1 year?

These are just some of the basic, preliminary questions to ask, before considering the option of filing for Federal Disability retirement benefits.  The questions and answers themselves are simple; as one gets more and more involved in the process, they become, in combination, procedurally and substantively a complex issue of meeting the legal criteria for approval.

Underlying it all is a simple conceptual basis; the complexity comes in applying the law.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


One thought on “FERS Disability Retirement: The Simplicity of the Complex

  1. Atty McGill,

    You have definitely put this into a better perspective that I can understand. I volunteered to go to Iraq as a Federal Civilian and I have never been the same since and I am finding that I cannot perform at the level I could prior to the deployment. And I have no veteran’s benefits but I have the bills and some of the ailments. So, I am now working on my Disability Retirement after almost 31 years with the government and I am finding it frustrating. Thanks for your insight.

    Very Respectfully,

    Bonnie Parker

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