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How is FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) Related to Social Security Disability Benefits?

FERS is an acronym for the Federal Employees Retirement System. The system became an effective part of the benefits given to federal employees in 1987. There are three components of the FERS benefits program including the FERS basic benefit, the Social Security benefit and the thrift savings plan benefit. When an individual who has worked for the federal government becomes disabled and needs disability benefits to make ends meet, they often wonder how the FERS benefits are related to Social Security Disability benefits. The following information will help you understand how Social Security Disability benefits play a role in the FERS program.

Do You Meet the Requirements?

First, before you can even determine what (if any) affect FERS will have on your disability benefits you must be sure you are eligible for FERS benefits. Unless you have completed at least 18 months of federal civilian service, became disabled while you were employed and meet the SSDI disability requirements you will not be able to qualify for benefits under this program.

FERS and SSDI

It is important to note that once you begin receiving Social Security Disability benefits, your FERS disability annuity will be affected. During the first 12 months of your disability you will receive 60 percent of the amount of your 3-year-average high salary. Once you begin receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the amount of your FERS disability payment will be reduced by the amount you receive from the SSDI. So, for example, if your 3-year-high average monthly salary was $4,000 per month your FERS payment would be $2,400 per month. If you receive $1,100 per month in SSDI payments, you would only receive $1,300 per month from the FERS program due to the amount you are collecting from the SSA. This would still total $2,400 per month. You would just be getting a portion of that $2,400 from FERS and a portion from SSDI.

After the first 12 months of your disability you will receive 40 percent of your 3-year-average high salary minus 60 percent of whatever you receive in SSDI benefits. So, if your 3-year-high average was $4,000 per month you would then begin receiving $1,600 per month for your FERS annuity. You would still be receiving $1,100 per month from SSDI, however, only 60 percent of that would be deducted from your FERS payment. As a result, your FERS payment would be $1,600 per month minus $660 (60 percent of $1,000) so your actual FERS payment would be $940 per month so you would be receiving a total of $1,940 per month ($940 from FERS and $1,000 from SSDI).

Many people think that they can either qualify for only Social Security Disability or FERS disability. That is not the case. You can receive both FERS and SSDI benefits, but the amount of SSDI you receive from the SSA will usually have an impact on how much your FERS annuity is.

Comments

Hi Cilla,
Yes, the amount of FERS you receive will be reduced depending on your SSDI benefits, not the other way around.

A twist to your scenario. A fed can no longer work and as such they retire from the govt after working 30 years and under 62 years of age. They do not apply for a FERS disability retirement. They do apply for SSDI as they can no longer work. Will there be a reduction to the retired persons FERS benefit? What about the social security offset portion of their FERS retirement?

Thank you!

Hi Scott,
Yes, if that person applied for SSDI, started receiving it, and then applied for their FERS benefits, those FERS benefits may be reduced.

Scott was asking if a FERS Annuitant non disability annuitant, after retiring decides to later apply for SSDI will that affect his regular FERS annuity.

Hi Steve,
If Scott is over 62, then SSDI benefits may not be available as the SSA does not offer SSDI benefits for those who are eligible to receive SSA retirement benefits.

You are eligible to apply for disability as long as you are insured and the onset of the disability began prior to the age of 64 years and 7 months. Disability is not awarded to any person if they are set to receive Medicare within the five month waiting period. Please consult SSA directly with these life altering questions. It can make the difference in the total benefit received short and long term.

Hi there,
Thank you for sharing! It's true, it's always best to contact the SSA to ensure you're getting the most out of your benefits.

Scott is UNDER 62 and is on a voluntary immediate retirement, not FERS disability. If he receives Social Security Disability after he retired on an immediate FERS pension (not disability) what be the result.

Hi John,
I'm not entirely sure, however Scott's FERS benefit may still have a reduction due to the SSDI income.

SSDI will most certainly affect ur FERS full retirement pension. Had I went out on disability, I would be making MORE money....I did 32 years and retired....severe hearing impairment, lower extremities due to p. neuropathy, joint inflammation, etc. I know fellow postal carriers who went out on disability PRIOR to retirement with 15 years and they are making TWICE as much a me. What's right with this crap? I busted my ass and went to age 56. I HAD to retire physically; but, I chose NOT to take a disability. I chose a retirement.....after federal taxes & insurance payment of $348, I bring in $1590 a month for 32 YEARS of work. Others who worked HALF the time I did, are earning almost 4k a month. What's wrong with this picture? Good people NEVER win.

What if the person is under 62.
Retired after 30 years (non disabled), will recieve his first fers supplement in february.
Applied for ssi disability After retiring and got approved .
Waiting for first disability check in March.
How does this affect him? Will he be entitled to both fers supplement and ssi disability?

Hi Ellen,
SSI disability is a means-tested program, so that person may not be eligible for SSI benefits, depending on his benefit amount.

Your answer is stated ABOVE using the $4,000 example unders FERS & SSDI. I am in the same boat. I retired last April with 32 years FULL retirement FERS. If u are awarded SSDI, they will offset the money and you will receive the same amount....just out of different kitties the gov't has set up. No added benefit for all of that damn paperwork and hassels. If u have begun to receive ur SSDI & FERS can u reply and please advise as to whether I will be wasting my time to apply for SSDI??? I am 57 now...still have until 62 when I lose that supplement and start drawing regular social security.

I am retiring at 57 with over 30 years of service because of ongoing health problems and will receive my FERS benefits. I am in the process of getting my fourth surgery on my neck due to degenerative disc disease. If I apply for SSDI and got it, how would that affect my FERS annuity?

Hi Peter,
It would reduce the amount of your FERS benefit by the amount of the SSDI benefit.

I am a veteran who is receiving FERS disability at the 40% rate now since i started my second year of disability. It makes no sense to even try to get SSDI when it just complicates things. If you apply for SSDI it just makes your FERS go down that amount. You RECEIVE the same amount of money anyways. DONT complicate things.

I worked for feds civilian, for 11 years, my job was eliminated. I had OWCP for awhile, maybe a year, then back to full time. After severance pay, then unemployment, 2 years Later I had to get SSD. Now I'm 62, wanting to apply for the Fers annuity. Will my Fers annuity be reduced?

Hi Vic,
Yes, it may be reduced if you are receiving SSDI benefits.

My sister was approved for SSI in Oct. 2015 but denied disability retirement from the Post Office. She is 56 and has worked for 25 years. She has a terminal illness. Can she collect SSI and collect on her Fers early retirement. She has no spouse.

Hi Ren,
I'm sorry to hear about that! Yes, if your sister meets the financial eligibility requirements, she may be able to receive SSI benefits and her FERS early retirement if her FERS does not make her ineligible for SSI based on her income and resources.

If I'm approved for SS benefits, and they deduct that monthly amount from my monthly OPM retirement amount, like in your example, I'm gaining absolutely nothing financial-wise! Why bother even going through all the headaches of dealing with SS? I may as well just let them deny my SS claim and go on my way! Am I missing something on why I need both benefits????

Hi Bruce,
It's true, Social Security Disability benefits may not be the best option for everyone.

I know Bruce! Why bother? I was 46 with 24 years with the USPS and was approved for disability retirement under FERS. I also filed for SS as was required. Thus, the nightmare began. I was just doing what I was supposed to do, and assumed I would be getting the best deal. Boy, was I wrong! It takes a rocket scientist to calculate it all. Without help, most of us can't even do it! After I finally won, I soon found out that my pension is being cut! That's what I call a raw deal! I thought I was threw with all the illogical reasons when I retired. Should I ask why again?

I'm getting FERS Disability. I was able to find a job making under the 80%. But now my health situation has worsened and I'm completely unable to work. I didn't think I was allowed to work and draw SSDI.
I get $1558.00 before deductions. I'm on my 4th year of FERS disability.
I filed for SSDI a month and half ago. I was told that SSDI was automatic since OPM has already determined my condition valid. So, a couple questions:
1.Is SSDI automatic due to the OPM determination?
2. The amount on my SS statement if disabled is $3500 a month. How does the 60%-40% work?
3. How long does SSDI take to process?
Any help would be appreciated!

Hi Chris,
1. It may be automatic, however it may be a good idea to confirm that with the SSA.
2. Your FERS amount will be lowered by an amount that would make the both of them combined 3500 a month.
3. It takes five months from the time of approval to start receiving monthly benefits.

I am only 51 and have been drawing SSDI about $2,000 and $800 monthly from FERS . I am currently under review from Social Security and if they determine I no longer qualify for SS benefits will my FERS income get raised?

hi Cindy,
If you are still otherwise eligible for your FERS benefit, then it may be raised.

When my FERS Disability converts to a regular annuity at 62, does the SS Disability offset still apply?

Hi Brian,
It may still apply, however you may want to contact the Office of Personnel Management for more detailed information.

Brian,

Please share what you find out since I am in the same boat. Even though I have to wait 12 more years, I would still like to know. It's just more unreasonable stuff as far as I'm concerned. They are just determined not to give us our hard-earned earnings!

My husband started working for the P.O. in 1984. He is under the new FERS system. Yearly annuity. He is 62 years 7 months old. He has been told by his doctor that he should apply for SSDI. Severe back & knee issues. If SSA approves his disability claim, how will it affect his FERS monthly payment? He will not be applying for FERS disability.

Thank you.

Hi Jan,

Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, I cannot answer accurately how your husband's SSDI will effect his FERS. I would recommend reaching out to the United States OPM's website for the most accurate answer regarding your husband's situation: https://www.opm.gov/about-us/contact-us/

Best Wishes,
Eric

Hi Jan,

Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, I cannot answer accurately how your husband's SSDI will effect his FERS. I would recommend reaching out to the United States OPM's website for the most accurate answer regarding your husband's situation: https://www.opm.gov/about-us/contact-us/

Best Wishes,
Eric

Jan, is he currently still on the payroll or has he retired? I retired from the PO as FERS....it is better financially to retire FERS disability....you will make more money. I struggled to reach age 56, retired and now I am getting DONG because with all of the paperwork, we will still make the same income for SSDI offsets FERS and the monies just come out of 2 different coffers, if u will. I won't let the Post Office off the hook that easy. I am pulling my SSDI paperwork.

I am CSRS offset and I applied and was approved for disability retirement through OPM in Oct 2015 after a permanent injury as a letter carrier. I received my first partial payment in April of 2016. By November 2016, my full payment had been finalized. I was suppose to receive 60% of my highest three years earnings my first year of disability which would be approximately $32,000. I received under $15,000. Plus they are taking almost $600.00 away a month that they claim I should be getting from SS. So I have been forced to apply for SS by OPM, I can't get my file re-looked at to pay me what I should of been paid for my first year of disability. I received around $8,000 in payments for the year 2016. OPM will not return any calls, if I call the regular OPM line I get a different story from every person I talk to. This has been going on since March 2015. I have about 24 years of Government service and am beyond frustrated.

Hi Tina,
I'm sorry to hear that! You may want to try to reach out to them through their websites, you can find it at www.opm.gov

Question, I left post office in 2014 disability with only 9 years I got 2400.00 a month but now I get 1200.00 fees I applied for Ssdi in 2014 will I have to pay the 100 percent plus the 60 percent for the following years, how will they calculate it if my ssdi is only 1200 a month???

Hi Joe,
I'm not entirely sure about paying any fees, however your FERS disability would be offset by that 1200 in SSDI benefits.

My wife has been SS Disabilty since 2007 due to traumatic Brain Injury. She is now 61, I was curious if they stopped deducting the SS benefit from her FERS retirement when she reaches age 62

Hi Donny,
You may want to contact the Office of Personnel Management regarding this, you can find their website here:
www.opm.gov

would my FERS Annuity be reduced if my SSDI is granted for a different disability than my FERS Medical disability?

Hi DeA,
That's an excellent question! I believe not, because FERS is affected by SSDI in general, as they're both government-run programs.

CAN YOU JUST DRAW FERS (DISABILITY) AND NOT DRAW SSDI (AFTER APPLYING AND TURNED DOWN). AND TRY TO WORK SOMEWHERE UNDER THE 80% OF PRIOR FED INCOME. ALSO 100%S/C FROM MILITARY.

I am FERS disability retired, over 30 years well under 62 and denied for SSDI multiple times.

Q: Will FERS disability annuity decrease to 40% after 1 year or stay at 60%?

Q: Would only benefit from SSDI offset be reduction in taxable income since SSDI is deducted from FERS annuity?

Thanks

Hello,

Q1: After the first year, your disability annuity is equal to 40 percent of your high-3 average salary minus 60 percent of your social security benefit for any month in which you are entitled to social security disability benefits

Q2: Unfortunately, I am unable to answer this because I am not a tax expert. You may want to reach out to the SSA for that. 1-800-772-1213

Best Wishes,
Eric

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