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Postman- Can they get SSDI benefits?

Postman and SSDI

Many government workers are surprised to find that they may not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This does not, however, mean that your job, if you are a postman, does not provide some type of disability benefits.

In fact, there is good news for many postal employees. Even if you do not qualify for SSDI benefits if you have a medical condition which inhibits your ability to work as a postman you may qualify for Federal Disability Retirement which is granted under Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement Act (CSRS).

Benefits of FERS or CSRS over SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance can be very difficult to get. Claimants must prove they are 100% disabled with a condition which is so severe it does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also have worked and paid enough employment taxes to be considered insured by the SSA. Additionally, recipients of SSDI may be able to work very part-time, but if they work too much, they will lose their SSDI benefits.

When can a postman qualify for FERS or CSRS disability benefits?

  1. A postman may get FERS or CSRS disability benefits if they  have completed a minimum of 18 months of federal service (for FERS) or five years (for CSRS employees which, presumably, all CSRS employees already have the minimum eligible period of federal service).

  2. The federal or postal employee becomes “disabled because of a medical condition, resulting in a deficiency in performance, conduct, or attendance, or, absent such deficiency, the medical condition must be incompatible with either useful and efficient service or retention in the position.”

  3. The workers’ condition is expected to last at least one year from the date of the application.

  4. The postal service is unable to accommodate the worker either in their former position as a postman or in another vacant position.

Additionally, unlike SSDI where the worker must prove they are 100% disabled, the postman may qualify for postal disability benefits if they are able to show they are not able to “render useful and efficient service in the position occupied.”

Also, unlike SSDI which requires workers to apply only after they are not performing “substantial gainful activity” a postal worker can apply for disability prior to their separation from their job. If, however, they have separated from their job they have only one year to file for disability benefits. Failing to file within one year will eliminate your right to do so. This varies from SSDI benefits where you have the right to file until your DLI or date last insured has passed.

What do you do if you become disabled and you are a postman?

Experts contend that if you have become disabled and you are no longer able to perform your job it is important to have the reason state that you were medically unable to perform your job. Why? Because an employee’s removal for physical inability to perform their job constitutes "prima facie evidence" that a federal employee is entitled to disability retirement. Bruner v. Office of Personnel Management, 996 F.2d 290, 294 (Fed. Cir. 1993).
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