Disability Provisions of Federal and District of Columbia Employee Retirement Systems Need Reform

FPCD-78-48: Published: Jul 10, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 10, 1978.

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Previous reports have discussed shortcomings in the disability provisions of federal and District of Columbia (D.C) retirement programs. Action on recommendations made in prior reports is still needed.

The number of retirees receiving civil service disability annuities more than doubled from 1970 to 1977. The Civil Service Commission's (CSC) interpretation of entitlement to disability retirement is based on an employee's ability to perform specific functions, and employees are not obligated to accept reassignment. Within the civil service retirement system, earlier and more generous retirement benefits are authorized for federal law enforcement and firefighter personnel. The costs of providing early retirement benefits under the special retirement policy are over 50 percent greater than they would be for regular optional retirement. Seven retirement systems cover most federal personnel and there is wide variation in the disability provisions of these systems. The D.C. police and firemen's retirement system permits members to retire on disability for service-connected disability or after 5 years for other disabilities. Optional retirement benefits under this system are among the best in the country, but most of the personnel have retired under the system's aggravation clause.

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