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You’re a U.S. Postal worker, Federal, or State employee who can no longer perform the duties of your job due either to an injury or illness. You’re not sure what to do. The good news is that you may be eligible to leave your job with federal or state disability retirement benefits.

The following discussion will provide you with information that will give you direction and put your mind at ease.

What Is Disability Retirement?

Disability retirement is a benefit that federal and state employees may be eligible to receive if it is determined that they have a disabling injury or illness that prevents them from performing their usual or essential job duties with their current employer.

Federal Disability Retirement

Federal Disability retirement benefits are awarded to all U.S. Postal and Federal Employees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Minimum Eligibility

To be eligible to receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits CSRS or FERS require the following;

  • CSRS employees, must have a minimum of five years of service and FERS employees, must have a minimum of 18 months of service.
  • A CSRS or FERS employee must be an active employee when they file for benefits or, if separated from Federal Service, such separation must be less than one year.
  • A CSRS or FERS employee must have an injury or illness during the period of being in Federal Service and said injury or illness must prevent the employee from performing the essential duties of their Federal or Postal job (Postal worker unable to safely operate their delivery vehicle). The injury or illness must be expected to last at least one year from the date that the employee applies for benefits.
  • A CSRS or FERS employee’s injury or illness need not be job related in anyway (injured while mountain climbing). Unlike Worker’s Compensation which requires that the employee’s injury be job related to receive benefits.
  • The federal agency that the employee works for must try and fail to accommodate the employee’s illness or injury while the employee is in their current job, and the agency must be unable to provide the employee with another position in the same agency at the same grade or pay level.

California Disability Retirement

California Disability retirement benefits are awarded to all California Public Employees under the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) for both a non-industrial cause (injury or illness is non-job related) or an industrial cause (injury or illness is job-related)

Minimum Eligibility

To be eligible to receive California Disability retirement benefits for a non-industrial cause CalPERS requires the following;

  • You must be in employment covered by CalPERS when you apply for benefits; or within four months of separation from CalPERS covered employment; or at any time, if you “separated” from or left your job because of a disability and you have remained disabled since then; or while on military or approved leave.
  • You must have at least five years of service credit when you apply for benefits. However, State Second Tier members must have 10 years of service credit. If the employee has State Second Tier service and other CalPERS covered service that gives them a combined total of five years of credited service, they may still qualify for benefits.
  • If you are employed on a part-time basis and have worked at least five years, you may be eligible to retire with less than the required years of service credit.
  • The California government employee has an injury or illness that is not job related that is expected to be permanent or last longer than six months which will prevent them from performing their usual job duties with their current employer.
  • No minimum age.

 

To be eligible to receive California Disability retirement benefits for an industrial cause CalPERS requires the following;

  • You must be in employment covered by CalPERS when you apply for benefits; or within four months of separation from CalPERS covered employment; or at any time, if you “separated” from or left your job because of a disability and you have remained disabled since then; or while on military or approved leave.
  • The California government employee has an injury or illness that is job related that is expected to be permanent or last longer than six months which will prevent them from performing their usual job duties with their current employer.
  • No minimum age or service time.

 

Further, a U.S. Postal, Federal or State employee who has a pre-existing condition is not disqualified from receiving benefits if the disabling symptoms of the condition occurred post-employment.

In conclusion, a skilled and seasoned attorney is aware that under both federal and California disability retirement the linchpin for a successful award of benefits is; the employee must apply for retirement disability as soon as they believe they are unable to perform the usual or essential job duties of their current position with their current employer; and the employee must prove that they have an injury or illness that prevents them from performing said duties.

Moreover, proof of illness or injury that is established through meticulous, thorough, and complete medical documentation will make it difficult for the governing body to deny the employee disability retirement benefits.

If an employee’s application for non-industrial or industrial disability retirement is approved, they’ll receive a monthly retirement payment for the rest of their life or until they recover from their injury or illness.

 

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