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Sometimes Less Is More – FECA and FERS

Daniel M. Goodkin March 1, 2013

One common misconception is that if one is receiving benefits under FECA that there is no reason to apply for FERS disability. The reason people believe that is because one cannot receive FERS benefits while receiving FECA wage-loss benefits. In almost every situation, it makes sense for an injured worker to file for FERS or CSRS. The primary reason for this is that one can become entitled to FERS/CSRS while continuing to receive benefits under FECA. The FERS/CSRS benefit can come into play in a variety of situations. The first is if OWCP determines that a work-related injury has healed or is not causing any disability. This commonly occurs after a second opinion examiner determines that the claimant's problems are related to age and that the industrial injury no longer plays any role in the claimant's disability. This can happen at any time, sometimes even after decades of a claimant receiving benefits under FECA. Having something to fall back on is very valuable.

In addition, under FERS/CSRS, one can make up to 80% of the current pay rate of the position they retired from and retain his or her annuity. OWCP takes a dollar for dollar deduction if an injured worker returns to work. Sometimes, injured workers can resume some sort of employment, even if it is part time or doing something other than what they did for the government. Even a moderate salary from private employment coupled with a disability retirement annuity can exceed that which one would get from workers comp. Lastly, if one is eligible for FERS, and they have an injury that would entitle them to a schedule award, they can receive both the schedule award and the annuity from FERS/CSRS at the same time. The bottom line is, don't dismiss FERS/CSRS simply because you are receiving wage loss comepnsation from OWCP. An employee can file at any time that they remain on the agency rolls and must file within one year of separation . There are almost no exceptions to the one year requirement, so make sure to get it done in that time frame.