It is important for federal workers in California to understand how the federal disability and Social Security Disability systems interplay. Both the Social Security and civil service systems offer benefits when workers become disabled and are unable to return to their jobs.
The Social Security system is integrated with the federal disability system in order to keep disabled workers from obtaining full benefits from both programs. Federal employees who apply for federal disability retirement under the FERS or CSRS-Offset programs must simultaneously apply for disability through the Social Security Administration. This is to make certain that the benefits that they receive will be coordinated between the programs.
In order to qualify for disability benefits under the federal employment system, the disabled workers must have worked in their jobs for at least five years to be eligible for the CSRS or CSRS-Offset programs and for at least 18 months to be eligible for the FERS disability program. They must have become disabled while they were working in their jobs, and their disability must prevent them from returning to either their jobs or to other vacant positions at the same pay grade and level.
Many people may be able to be approved for Social Security Disability and for federal disability benefits even if they think that their conditions might not qualify. People who have suffered illnesses or injuries that prevent them from working may want to consult with disability lawyers who are experienced in handling claims under both systems and may advise their clients about how the systems are integrated. They may help them to appeal any denials that they might receive and work to build stronger cases on appeal.