DISABILITY PROGRAMS INTERRELATED, BENEFITS AFFECT ONE ANOTHER
Social Security Disability and federal civil service disability programs are integrated to an extent. In a situation where a California resident who works for the federal government becomes disabled, he or she should be careful to protect the rights available under each of the programs. Federal employees who become disabled might be entitled to a disability annuity. To qualify under the Civil Service Retirement System or CSRS-Offset, an employee must have worked for five years or more in federal civilian service.
To qualify under the Federal Employees Retirement System, the employee must have worked in federal civil service for 18 months. Additionally, people must have become disabled for useful and efficient service with regard to their current position as well as any vacant position that is at the same pay level or grade. Useful and efficient service is defined to mean the ability to perform acceptably the essential or critical elements of the position and the ability to maintain satisfactory attendance and conduct.
The rules for Social Security Disability are more complicated and stricter. Qualifying for benefits from the Office of Personnel Management does not necessarily indicate Social Security eligibility. In order to qualify for disability benefits through Social Security, an individual must have a mental or physical impairment that prevents the performance of substantial work for a year or more. Alternately, the individual must have a condition that is expected to result in death.
People in California who become disabled may not be able to get full benefits under all programs at once. Applications under FERS or CSRS-Offset must be coordinated with Social Security applications to ensure the proper interaction of the programs. An attorney with experience in Social Security Disability applications may be able to help by examining the client's circumstances and assisting with the necessary legal paperwork. An attorney may be able to communicate with government officials on the client's behalf.