CSRS Disability Retirement
If you become disabled during the course of your federal career, you may be entitled to a disability annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). This article discusses the conditions for eligibility, application procedures, and calculation of the annuity for CSRS Disability.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suggests that you should consider applying for disability retirement only after you have provided your employing agency with complete documentation of your medical condition and your agency has exhausted all reasonable attempts to retain you in a productive capacity, through accommodation or reassignment
You must meet all of the following conditions to be eligible for disability retirement:
- You must have completed at least five years of creditable Federal civilian service.
- You must, while employed in a position subject to CSRS, have become disabled, because of disease or injury, for useful and efficient service in your current position. (Useful and efficient service means fully successful performance of the critical or essential elements of the position-or the ability to perform at that level-and satisfactory conduct and attendance.)
- The disability must be expected to last at least one year.
- Your agency must certify that it is unable to accommodate your disabling medical condition in your present position and that it has considered you for any vacant position within the same agency, at the same grade or pay level, and within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment.
- You, or your guardian or other interested person, must apply for disability before your separation from service or within one year of your separation. The application must be received by OPM within one year from the date of your separation. This time limit can be waived only in instances involving incompetency.
Applying for CSRS Disability Retirement
To apply for CSRS disability retirement you must complete form SF 2801,Application for Immediate Retirement, and SF 3112, Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement.
- If you are still employed or have been separated from your employing agency for 31 days or less, your employing agency may help you complete these forms and if you are still on the agency payroll, will forward the completed forms to OPM. However, it is your responsibility to obtain all the information necessary for OPM to make a decision on your claim. This includes providing all of the required forms and documentation.
- If you are covered by the CSRS Offset Retirement System you must document that you applied for Social Security disability benefits after you separated from your agency. OPM cannot pay you a disability retirement without this information.
- If you have been separated from Federal service for more than 31 days your application for disability retirement must be received by OPM within one year after the date of your separation. If you have been separated from Federal service for more than 31 days, your former employing agency may no longer have your personnel records and may not be able to recover them in time to process your disability retirement application and submit it to OPM within the one-year time limit. Therefore, you should submit your application directly to OPM rather than to your agency at:
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Operations Center
Post Office Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017
- Ask your former supervisor and employing agency to complete SF 3112B, SF 3112D and SF 3112E and give them to you so you can send them to OPM.
- If you think you will not have the completed package in time to meet the one-year time limit, send OPM the completed SF 2801 and SF 3112A, along with the name, address and telephone number of the person(s) you have asked to complete the remaining forms.
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Access your Federal Retirement Forms HERE
Periodic Medical Exams to Keep Your Disability Benefit
When OPM approves your application for disability retirement, they may determine that based on your medical condition you will periodically have to provide them with current medical information in order to continue receiving benefits. You are responsible for paying for any medical exams that are needed. If you do not fulfill the request for evidence of continuing disability, it is likely that your benefit payments could be suspended until your continuing eligibility is established.
Disability – CSRS Retirement Computation
You are entitled to an “earned” annuity computed under the CSRS general formula. However, the law guarantees a minimum annuity to employees who retire because of disability. The guaranteed minimum applies if you are under age 60 when you retire and your earned annuity based on your actual service is less than this minimum.
The guaranteed minimum is the lesser of the following:
- 40% of your “high-3 average salary”, or
- the regular annuity obtained after increasing your service by the time between your retirement and your 60th birthday.
The guaranteed minimum does not apply if you are receiving military retired pay and/or compensation from the Veterans Administration in lieu of all or part of your military retired pay. However, if your earned annuity plus your military benefit (or compensation) is less than what it would have been under the guaranteed minimum, the annuity is increased to bring it up to that level.
Reductions in Disability CSRS Annuity
Your basic annual disability annuity will be reduced for:
- Survivor benefits – If you are married, your benefit will be reduced for a survivor benefit, unless your spouse consented to your election of less than a full survivor annuity. It will also be reduced if a former spouse survivor benefit is required by a court order.
- Unpaid Service – If you have creditable civilian service performed before October 1, 1982, during which no retirement deductions were withheld from your salary and for which you have not paid a deposit, your annuity will be reduced. The annual reduction is 10% of the total deposit due. Non-deduction service performed on or after October 1, 1982, cannot be used to compute your annuity unless the deposit is made in full.
- Refunded Service – If you had creditable civilian service for which you took a refund, but did not pay a redeposit, the service cannot be used in the computation of your annuity.
- CSRS Offset – If you had service that was subject to withholding for both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Social Security, you are subject to a reduction in your annuity if the Social Security Administration (SSA) can pay you a benefit based on the portion of your Federal service which was under both systems. This is called “CSRS Offset” service.
Cost of Living Adjustments for CSRS Disability Retirees
– Your disability annuity will be increased by cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases that occur after you retire. Your first COLA increase will be prorated based on how long you have been retired when that COLA is granted.