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Old 12-08-2018, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Northern VA
511 posts, read 631,774 times
Reputation: 621

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I've talked about my retirement plans in some other posts if you want more details, but here's a summary:

I'm currently 54, retired military and now working a federal job. Along with my military pension, I was planning to work and then retire again at age 62 to get a small (maybe $1,000) federal pension and delay SS as long as possible. We're also planning to sell our house and move to a lower cost of living area.

My wife has a variety of medical issues, including the auto-immune disease Sjogrens. Her issues were greatly aggravated due to a car accident in December 2016. She still has neck and shoulder issues caused by the accident. She's already had two neck surgeries and has a third procedure coming up in January. While she has seen some improvement, she is not anywhere close to be back to her normal. She's also a federal civilian. She has only worked sporadically since the accident although about a month ago she officially went back to work half time but she's usually miserable by the time she's done. Thankfully the Department of Labor has covered most of her salary through workman's compensation.

Because of her medical issues, we've always been planning for her to retire at her MRA (Minimum Retirement Age), which she reaches in December 2024. We were planning for her to delay receiving her federal pension until age 60 or 62 (to minimize the early reduction)

Now comes the curve ball. Since she's still not even close to being able to do her actual job ( she's a dental assistant) she's been working as the front desk/receptionist, but even that still bothers her a lot. Her agency has started talking about her getting a medical/disability retirement. If she doesn't start showing more improvement after the January procedure, then disability retirement is probably the right step.

Of course if she does get medically retired it will wreck havoc on our finances. As I understand things, for the first year she'll get 60% of her high 3 salary and then 40% after that. I think it would all be tax free but even so its still a significant drop in income. Her current high 3 is roughly $50,000, so that means $30,000 the first year and then only $20,000 from then on.

I'm not really asking for any advice, although if anyone has experience with federal disability retirement I'd like to hear your story. Mostly I'm just venting my frustration about how that event two years ago has completely disrupted our lives.
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Old 12-08-2018, 05:56 PM
 
Location: the Old Dominion
295 posts, read 149,259 times
Reputation: 1382
'hoping things get better for you.
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:17 PM
 
161 posts, read 91,677 times
Reputation: 273
are you both covered by FEHB?

A heavy user of medical care might benefit from being covered by both FEHB and Tricare.
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Old 12-09-2018, 01:17 AM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
4,388 posts, read 1,666,771 times
Reputation: 7982
There is nothing shameful about a disability retirement. As I understand it is based on your ability to do your usual career job.

Like most people, retirement is when you simplify your lifestyle and learn to get by with less. You'll be fine, it will take a common sense psychological approach. Alll of us have had our lives disrupted years ago, and many us can't even remember it.
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Old 12-09-2018, 01:54 AM
 
Location: Northern VA
511 posts, read 631,774 times
Reputation: 621
Quote:
Originally Posted by flashlight View Post
are you both covered by FEHB?

A heavy user of medical care might benefit from being covered by both FEHB and Tricare.
Why both? We only have Tricare and so far its worked for us. We live near Fort Belvoir so getting the majority of our care on base isn't an issue. I think our cars could drive us on their own to Walter Reed since we've been so many times. My wife has also seen so many outside specialists but even though Tricare raised their copay this past year $30 isn't that bad. And anything related to the accident is covered by DOL. Even the cheapest FEHB premiums and deductibles looks like it would cost way more than the occasional Tricare copays.

What's the advantage of having both that I'm missing?
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:03 AM
 
Location: Ypsilanti, MI
2,439 posts, read 3,661,951 times
Reputation: 4785
Tough choices ahead.

You are not alone in your situation, and its existence is a concern for all of us in our own retirement planning.

Don't forget the brightly shining bright spot in this situation, you still have your wife.
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:04 AM
 
6,241 posts, read 4,725,740 times
Reputation: 12780
I don't often mention my wife's health issues but she outdoes your wife's by an order of magnitude: Hashimoto's, Celiac, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Myasthenia Gravis and even Sjogren's.


She has had 4 serious traffic accidents, none were her fault. The first was 30 years ago and she recovered fairly well. Her second was 15 years ago when she was rear ended in a merge lane. Then 10 years ago rear ended by a school bus when she was stopped for a traffic light. Then an Escapade did the same thing a couple of years later. The cumulative result has been whiplash injuries to her neck that will never heal plus traumatic brain injuries that often leave her feeling foggy. Coupled with her autoimmune disease she is in chronic pain and suffers frequent migraine headaches. She is at PT and yoga and more at least 3 times a week and has been for years. The only thing that is helped is medical marihuana and pushing herself to remain active. This past year she has had such fatigue she can barely get through the day. She was finally diagnosed with Lymes Disease. With all the other health issues, that escaped diagnosis.


Anyway count your blessings. You will find a great many people on this forum and in life with way worse issues. Also the financial issue may be less than you anticipate. My wife went out on permanent disability in her early 50s. She struggled with severe symptoms for more than 5 years but just could not cope, mainly due to frequent migraines. She got disability insurance and SSDI. Her employer continued contributions to her 403b account. She got a small settlement from one of the insurance companies due to one of the traffic accidents.
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:24 AM
 
2,752 posts, read 992,710 times
Reputation: 3206
Hope things work out for the best for you both
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
7,628 posts, read 4,693,202 times
Reputation: 27916
Sorry, OP, this turned into an episode of "My Spouse Is Sicker Than Yours." I realize your concerns are real and troubling, especially since you're both still in your fifties.

I only have one small suggestion which you're free to ignore. The gap between 54 and 62 is a long one. I don't know you, so I don't know if you're one of those guys who are too tough to see a doctor at least once a year. And caregivers often neglect their own health. I would urge you to get that annual physical, as well as get any diagnostic tests your PCP recommends.

Stay healthy. Good luck.
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Northern VA
511 posts, read 631,774 times
Reputation: 621
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrkliny View Post
I don't often mention my wife's health issues but she outdoes your wife's by an order of magnitude: Hashimoto's, Celiac, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Myasthenia Gravis and even Sjogren's.
I think at worst we're probably tied as far as our respective wife's issues. In addition to Sjogren's she also has Abductor Spasmodic Dysphasia, Reyanaud's Disease, Hyperthyroidism, and Scleromyiositis. Periodically some doctors have said they she also has Rheumatoid Arthritis, but its never been a definitive diagnosis. And the car accident - she was outside running, crossing the street in a crosswalk when she was struck by the car. She rolled over the hood of the car and hit her head on the pavement.

Eventually we'll get a settlement from the lady who hit her but I really don't have any idea how much it would be. From the start, our lawyer has said we should wait until she's fully healed before going to court. Two plus years after the accident and its doubtful they'll she ever be fully healed, so how much healing is enough?

As far as settlements, I've read that ballpark estimates are usually 1.5 to 4 times lost wages, medical, and pain and suffering. Other than the original hospital bill we generally don't see the medical costs (Tricare and DOL get them) so don't know how much medical is (after all the specialist, tests, treatments and surgeries I'm sure medical costs alone are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars). In lost wages and benefits (leave accrual, TSP matching, etc.) I'm tracking her as having lost over $90,000 to this point. Granted, DOL has covered a portion of her lost wages but we'll have to pay most of that back whenever we get the settlement (plus we have to pay the lawyer too). I keep telling my wife to ask the lawyer what she thinks a ballpark settlement might be just so I can SWAG how much we might get.

Speaking of settlements, does anyone have any personal experiences? I've been thinking for awhile now that if the lady that hit my wife only had the minimum required insurance that we've long since blown past that number. The settlement realistically should be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so where does the amount above her insurance limit come from? Does the insurance company cover it or are we just SOL and have to sue the lady for any hope of recovery?
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