FECA Benefits vs Disability Retirement Benefits: What Are the Differences?

The Federal Employees Compensation Act and disability retirement have some significant differences in them. An employee, who is applying for benefits, must be disabled via a work-related injury and cannot work a regular job. The OPM, however, will accept any disability retirement application regardless of where the injury took place.

Since benefits for federal disability retirement and compensation cannot be paid at the same time, a choice must be made between the two options.

If you receive compensation benefits, your disability retirement benefits are on hold, but if the compensation benefits end or fall below the annuity benefit amount, they can be restarted. The one exception is if you are given a scheduled award (fixed payments for loss of function) that is paid at the same time as the disability benefits.

Retirement benefits are paid under situations in which compensation benefits are not. For example, a former spouse has been awarded by the court for retirement benefits but are not eligible for compensation benefits. A widower or widow who gets married before 55 years old but divorces is eligible for a reinstatement of the retirement benefit (so long as they have not attained a refund of the retirement contributions). A compensation benefit, however, cannot be reinstated.

If you are disabled due to a job-related injury or illness, but die of something else, your survivors are not permitted to attain compensation benefits but rather CSRS survivor benefits.

Single individuals with no dependent children or former spouse eligible for benefits will have no payable monthly survivor annuity benefits. Instead, a lump-sum of the retirement contributions are paid to survivors under the order of precedence noted above.

comparison benefits differences FECA Disability