Across the nation in large cities like Boston, there are large numbers of federal workers. One of the advantages to being a federal worker is, of course, the benefits available to all employees. These benefits often involve cheaper access to better health insurance plans and access to federal retirement programs.
While the days of full federal pension are essentially over, federal employees still have a variety of good options for employee-funded retirement programs with federal government matching available. However, in some ways, being a federal employee is more complicated than working in the private sector.
A recent article from Fed Smith, a publication of interest to federal workers, or “Feds” as they are often called, discusses one complication for disabled federal workers who are looking to retire or stop working as a result of their disability. These issues involve how federal disability retirement programs work in relation to Social Security Administration (SSA) run Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
As our Boston disability attorneys can explain, even though the federal government provides disability retirement options for many of its Feds (a term not just used to mean FBI agents in this context), there is a requirement to also apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits through SSA.
Feds must not only apply for SSA, they most notify the United States Office of Personal Management (OPM) of their application for Social Security Disability Benefits and continuously update OPM on the status of their applications. If SSA denies an application for benefits or the applicant withdraws his or her application, OPM must be notified immediately.
There are two basic reasons for this reporting requirement. The first reason deals with the federal government’s desire for a disabled worker to never be in receipt of double benefits. In other words, they do not want you collecting benefits under a federal employee disability plan and also from Social Security, as they consider this double dipping. In terms of most benefits programs, double dipping is usually not allowed.
Aside from problems with so-called double-dipping, federal agencies are generally on the lookout for ways to deny benefits, thus saving money. One way in which they can do this is to see if another federal agency has determined a claimant is not truly disabled. Since the SSA has a long history of denying applicants if they are not fully qualified, an SSA denial may be used as the basis to deny other benefits. We have seen this in the context of military veterans who have trouble getting benefits from the VA when SSA has denied a claim.
One of the best things you can to avoid this problem is to seek a consultation with an experienced disability attorney as soon in the process as possible. Having an attorney on your side fighting for your rights to a full and appropriate benefits award can only increase your chances.
The main reason for this is the system is stacked against unrepresented claimants who are unaware of the highly technical procedural requirements and how to properly present evidence and cross-examine government witnesses during a hearing.
If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Eight Facts You Must Document to Obtain Federal Disability Retirement Benefits , May 14, 2015, Fed Smith
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