New Jersey residents who are employed by the federal government in the executive, judicial or legislative branches are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System. In addition to providing retirement benefits, FERS also offers disability benefits for those individuals who can no longer perform their job duties due to a physical or mental impairment. Although the procedure for applying for FERS disability can be somewhat confusing, that is not the only hurdle the disability applicant must face.
According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees the federal government’s civilian employees, individuals who apply for FERS disability must also apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits also. Claimants who fail to do so will learn that their FERS application will be dismissed without action. The purpose behind this is to offset the amount a successful FERS disability applicant would receive by the amount they are awarded by the Social Security Administration for SSDI.
This further complicated by the manner in which FERS is awarded. Disabilty experts can explain how FERS awards different amounts, which vary as a product of the employee’s high three-month average salary. In any case, for the FERS application to be considered, the claimant must show proof of filing with the SSDI, which in many cases will be the decision letter. A denial by the SSDI may have a negative impact on the FERS decision.
The SSDI process is complex, and well over 50% of first-time applicants are denied. However, the SSA has established a multiple-level system of appeals, by which an SSDI claimant can seek a review. It is permissible, at any stage of the application process, for the SSDI claimant to have representation by a lawyer. Statistically, claimants with counsel are far more likely to be approved for SSDI benefits.