FERS Disability Retirement Overview

  • The FERS benefit is one of the employee benefits to which eligible employees are entitled.  An eligible employee is one who has completed at least 18 months of Federal civilian service which is creditable under FERS.  FERS is recognized as an important element of an employee’s overall compensation package.  
  • For the calculation of an eligible employee’s benefit, FERS uses a percentage of the average of the highest three years of the employee’s salary from their FERS-covered job. 
  • FERS provides an annual cost-of-living adjustment feature.  
  • While the FERS Disability Retirement benefit is fully integrated with the Social Security Disability benefit for those under the age of 62, there is a tiered approach.  For the first 12 months, an eligible employee can receive 60% of the employee’s highest three year average salary minus 100% of the employee’s Social Security Disability benefit (for any month in which the employee was eligible for the Social Security benefit).  After the first 12 months, an eligible employee can receive 40% of the employee’s highest three year average salary minus 100% of the employee’s Social Security Disability benefit (for any month in which the employee was eligible for the Social Security benefit).  
  • Once the employee reaches age 62, the FERS Disability Retirement benefit will be recomputed using an amount that essentially represent the annuity the employee would have received had she/he continued working until the day before attaining age 62 and then retired under the FERS non-disability provisions.  The total service used in the computation will be increased by the amount of time the employee has received a disability annuity.
  • Employees applying for FERS Disability Retirement must also apply for Social Security Disability benefits.  There are an array of benefit features under the Social Security system that an eligible employee receives including annual cost-of-living adjustments, Medicare eligibility after 24 months, a “freeze” applied to the Social Security Retirement benefit, and much more.  
  • As with all programs, FERS does have a timely filing requirement.  Eligible employees are urged to have their completed application submitted no later than one year after the date of the employee’s separation.    
  • Employees are strongly encouraged to carefully study and understand all the terms, limitations, and conditions associated with FERS Disability Retirement program.

FERS Disability Retirement

When to Consider Applying for Disability Retirement

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.

Eligibility Requirements

You must meet all of the following conditions to be eligible for disability retirement:
  • You must have completed at least 18 months of Federal civilian service which is creditable under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
  • You must, while employed in a position subject to the retirement system, have become disabled, because of disease or injury, for useful and efficient service in your current position.
  • 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 in the same agency at the same grade or pay level, within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment.
  • You, or your guardian or other interested person, must apply before your separation from service or within one year thereafter. The application must be received by either OPM or your former employing agency within one year of the date of your separation. This time limit can be waived only if you were mentally incompetent on the date of separation or within one year of this date.
  • You must apply for social security disability benefits. Application for disability retirement under FERS requires an application for social security benefits. If the application for social security disability benefits is withdrawn for any reason, OPM will dismiss the FERS disability retirement application upon notification by the Social Security Administration.

Applying for FERS Disability Retirement

You must complete the following forms:
  • SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, and
  • SF 3112, Documentation In Support of Disability Retirement
  • If you are under age 62, documentation that you have applied for social security disability benefits after you separated from your agency.

If you have been separated from Federal service for 31 days or less

Your employing agency will help you complete these forms and will forward the completed forms to OPM. However, it is your responsibility to obtain all of the information necessary for OPM to make a decision on your claim. This includes providing all of the required forms and documents.

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.
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 3107 and SF 3112A, along with the name, address and telephone number of the person(s) you have asked to complete the remaining forms.