Retirement plans are, by definition, for when you stop working. Yet, there are a few circumstances in which you may need to access your money early. One of these is if an illness or injury leaves you unable to work.
Is disability retirement automatic?
Everyone at work knows you had a horrendous car crash. They know you will never be returning to the office again. That does not mean you can sit and wait for part of your retirement funds to be released. If you want it early, you need to apply.
Should I apply for disability retirement myself?
You may choose to file your application alone. However, it is not as simple as you might hope. You need to submit the proper forms in the correct manner. You need to back them up with the particular evidence that the assessors want to see. If you do not get it right, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will reject your claim.
Can I appeal if the OPM rejects my claim for disability retirement?
If the OPM rejects your claim for disability retirement, you can appeal for them to reconsider it.
The OPM may reject your claim if they believe you can still fulfill your role, despite your injury. They may feel if your employer makes certain concessions to your disability, you could continue to work.
Another reason that the OPM could deny you is if they think you will be back to work within a year. To qualify, you need to show the disability will stop you from carrying out your role for at least a year.
What if the OPM rejects my claim a second time?
If, after reconsideration, the OPM still rejects your claim, you can take it to the Merits System Protection Board (MSPB). If you have legal help when you first submit your claim, it could save you a lot of work and frustration.