Certain Disability Provisions Of Federal Programs

FPCD-76-13: Published: Aug 19, 1975. Publicly Released: Aug 19, 1975.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on 24 federal programs providing disability benefits.

GAO noted that: (1) most programs correlate disability with the ability to work; (2) the definitions range from the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity to the inability to perform efficiently in the specific position occupied at the time of retirement; (3) most programs require documentary evidence and medical examinations by designated physicians although some allow the employee to provide his personal physician's report; (4) three programs require only that the employee certify to his own disability, and four do not specify the means by which disability is established; (5) 14 programs provide for reexaminations if the disability is considered temporary or apt to improve; (6) the other nine programs do not provide for reexaminations; (7) all 23 programs provide life-long benefits to individuals who remain disabled although some impose earnings restrictions; (8) all but one have some means of paying survivor benefits; (9) payments are computed on various bases such as lifetime earnings, salary at the time of retirement, pay for three highest-paid years, or percentage of disability; (10) most of these bases are used in conjunction with years of service; (11) except for three systems and part of a forth, all provide for subsequently adjusting the benefit to reflect cost-of-living or salary increases; (12) the programs were providing monthly benefits that ranged from $1 to $3500; (13) six programs provide payments for partial disability--five military-related systems and the Federal Employees' Compensation Program; and (14) a given individual may be eligible for coverage under more than one system and may receive dual payments, or be required to waive all or a portion of the benefits under one system in order to receive payments under another.

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