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Law Enforcement Officers (LEO), Air Traffic Controllers, and Fire Fighters covered under the Special Groups Retirement System with less than 20 years of service credit under the Special Groups Retirement will revert back to a regular employee retirement under FERS, if they become disabled and qualify for disability retirement under FERS.

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Q: How does my leave and disability impact finances?
There are at least five reasons you are financially exposed:
  • Because leave and disability retirement are separate programs with different eligibility requirements and don’t coordinate, you could find yourself in extended periods of LWOP with no income coming in.
  • Leave donations are just that – donations which are not guaranteed for a specific period of time and are not tied to your monthly bills.
  • Now that you can convert your unused leave to increase your retirement income, like most federal employees, you should become more reluctant to make donations.
  • Disability retirement provides a base pension benefit that offers a two year step rated down income stream that levels off at 40% of your high-3 average salary. This pension benefit is not only taxable, it doesn’t come with COLA. As an actively working employee you may find it difficult to live on this benefit amount.
  • The combination of LWOP with the reduced income received from disability retirement may force you to withdrawal funds from your TSP, or other savings and investments before you’re ready. The premature liquidation of your TSP or other savings and investments will have a negative impact on your future income security.