On the Job:

Reprinted from PN October 2001
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More Than Pilots

Civilians have been an integral part of the total work force of Air Force Materiel Command, the largest employer of civilians in the United States Air Force. The Command currently has 58,250 civilian employee authorizations as researchers, systems and infrastructure maintainers, program managers, test and development experts, and sound business managers. As a result of past years' downsizing, the Command's work force is rapidly approaching retirement. The Command is aggressively seeking civilian employees. In addition, the Air Force strives to meet its goal of hiring 7,000 people with disabilities through fiscal year 2025 and attract highly qualified individuals with disabilities in all occupational series at all grade levels. Contact:

Retirement Age?

"I have a question I can't seem to find an answer to," wrote B.W.R., via the Internet. "I was paralyzed at age 14. I'm 47 now and have been fully employed since I was 19. According to Social Security, I have earned enough work credits for retirement.

"What is the minimum retirement age for people with disabilities? Surely it is not the same as for able-bodied people, since studies have shown our lifespan is shorter, and the retirement age is related to life expectancy."

Douglas Smith, attorney at law, who publishes Pds Disability Facts and Trends Affecting Social Security Disability Applicants, responded:

"The retirement age for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the date you become disabled under the Social Security definition of ?disability." At that time, you generally must have worked 20 out of the previous 40 calendar quarters for an employer who withheld FICA tax from your pay. Essentially, there is no disability retirement age."

B.W.R. then says, "The answer by Mr. Smith is one I already knew. It only addresses the able-bodied who became disabled after entering the work force, not before. Apparently, under the strict interpretation of "disability," I have to prove I'm no longer able to perform the work I'm doing now to be qualified as disabled, which is kind of ironic and sad in a way: The disabled having to be more disabled!

"It is unfair to the lifelong disabled to be held to the same standards of the able-bodied when setting the retirement age, because studies have shown we have a shorter lifespan due to physical complications of disability. It seems I have the unenviable position of needing something more catastrophic to happen to me physically or hoping I live long enough to reach the set retirement age. What a bummer!"

Contact: Physicians' Disability Service (Pds), P.O. Box 827, Arnold, MD 21012. (410) 431-5279.


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