Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Relative Costs

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, there is always the question of costs involved — of the time frame it takes to get from point A (the initiation of the process) to point B (the conclusion of the process — but more importantly, the receipt of actual payment from the Federal Treasury for one’s disability retirement); of being on LWOP for so long; using one’s savings; etc.

However, one needs to also take into account the “relative” cost for the long-term — such as the slow and progressive deterioration of one’s health if one continues to work at a job which is clearly exacerbating and progressively impacting one’s medical conditions; the cost of early retirement as opposed to being on Federal Disability Retirement, where the number of years that a person is on Federal Disability Retirement counts toward the total number of years of Federal Service, such that when Disability Retirement is converted to “regular retirement” at age 62, those years on Disability Retirement are calculated into the total number of years of Federal Service — and thus the cost of not taking that into account, especially if one lives for many, many years thereafter; the cost of having a Federal Disability Retirement application be denied at the First Stage, and thereby necessitating going to the Second, Reconsideration Stage, or the third stage, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and beyond.

Thus, the definition and conceptual meaning of “cost” can be relative, and can be viewed in terms which go beyond the immediacy of one’s monetary resources.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Affirmation, Communication & Support

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been thoughtfully prepared, formulated and filed with the Office of Personnel Management, it is a long engagement in something similar to trench warfare, where the long wait for the decision-making process must begin, endure, and come to fruition.  

In days prior to public access to the internet, Federal and Postal employees had very little, if any, access to the public domain of communicating to other Federal or Postal employees to get a sense of the successes or failures of others in the same or similar endeavors.  Access to other people’s experiences on public web domains, blog posts and other means of internet communication has allowed for interaction and communication within a wider community of Federal and Postal employees, in contrast to the pre-computer days (and yes, I am old enough to remember those days, when college term papers were written on an electric typewriter and space had to be calculated at the bottom of each page to allow for footnotes, as opposed to the ease of present-day cut-and-paste and automatic spacing by the computer program) when Federal and Postal employees were essentially isolated and unable to have access, let alone communicate, with others to attain a sense of affirmation by the experiences of others.  

Having that sense of isolation is one of those greater difficulties during the waiting wasteland period of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Moreover, especially in times of greater stagnation — summer months of people’s vacations; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. — the sense of isolation is exponentially magnified.  Reach out on the web and read about other people’s experiences in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  While each case is unique and different, one may gain a sense of affirmation by learning about the experiential factors of other Federal and Postal employees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: Legal Citations

Some question whether or not legal citations are necessary in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Certainly, as an administrative process in applying for a benefit from the Office of Personnel Management, there are individuals who attempt to obtain the benefit of Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits without the representation or assistance of an Attorney, and such “self-represented” individuals rarely refer to legal authorities or citations in such an application.

Are legal citations — or references to legal authorities, statutes or case-laws — “necessary” when filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS?  If by “necessary” is meant, is it a requirement in order to be eligible for obtaining OPM Disability Retirement benefits, then the obvious answer is “no”.

However, the purpose in referring to legal authorities is quite simple, and logically based:  As the Office of Personnel Management is required to apply the legal criteria in determining one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it makes sense to support one’s application by citing the legal authorities which reinforce and explain the legal basis for eligibility.

As such, while citing legal authorities is not a necessary condition in applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it may be a condition precedent which may need to be sufficiently satisfied in order to favorably “weight” the successful outcome which is sought after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: the Spouse

I find that when a person is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, an important component which is often overlooked is the supportive spouse.  I often get calls concerning various aspects of the Disability Retirement process — not from the applicant, but from the spouse.  And, indeed, this is natural, because often the medical condition itself is serious enough that the applicant is unable to “handle” or “deal with” the complexities of the process itself.  It becomes further complicated when the medical condition which is suffered is a psychiatric condition — severe Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, etc. 

However, whether it is psychiatric or physical, a supportive spouse — or “significant other” — is often very, very important to the success of the entire process.  Obviously, as an attorney who represents “the Client”, I must be careful that there is never a conflict between the Applicant (my client) and “the spouse”, but that is rare.  In almost all cases, I find that the spouse is looking after the best interest of my client, and I am happy to talk to and update the spouse on any and all issues surrounding disability retirement issues, because I know that he/she is looking after the best interests of my client, just as I want to.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Service Disability Retirement: Agency Support

Sometimes, the question comes up as to whether or not it is important to have the blessing or support of the Agency or the USPS, when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. My answer to such a question is fairly uniform and redundant:  this is a medical disability retirement; it is unwise to proceed to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits on the assumption that your Supervisor or Agency will be supportive, for there is no guarantee as to what “supportive” means (they may have a completely different understanding or definition of the concept than you do — something which you probably learned over many years of working in the Federal Sector), and further, the primary focus from the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management, is upon the medical evidence presented and how the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of your job.  The Supervisor’s Statement should be minimized in importance and relevance, as much as possible, by ensuring that the rest of the disability retirement application is “excellent”.  By doing this, you neutralize any undue dependence upon an Agency’s alleged “support” of your application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency & the Individual

The National Reassessment Program (NRP) now implemented in full force, along with the Voluntary Early Retirement, the cash incentives (many have called to ask whether or not, if one is not eligible or offered the early retirement, but the cash incentive with a resignation is still being offered, should you take it?), and the Postal Service’s ultimate goal of shedding its payroll of anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive” by doing away with all “light duty” or “modified duty” slots (there actually is no “slot”, but rather merely an ad hoc set of duties “made up” on a piece of paper, which is what I have been arguing for years and years, and as the Bracey Decision by the Federal Circuit Court addressed) — all of these developments are merely a large-scale, macrocosmic level of what happens every day on an individual, singular basis. 

This is merely a reflection of an Agency, and how it acts, reacts and responds to injured workers, workers who have medical conditions which impact one’s ability to perform one’s job, and worker’s who are not “fully productive”.  It is merely that which happens every day to individual workers, but on a larger scale.  Think about it:  A Federal or Postal employee who develops a medical condition, and cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; job performance soon begins to suffer, although perhaps imperceptibly at first; and the question becomes:  How will the agency, via its representative, the “Supervisor”, treat such an employee?  Sadly, more often than not, in a rough-shod, unsympathetic, and often cruel manner.  The Postal Service is simply doing it on a larger scale; but be fully aware, that every day, a Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, encounters such behavior and treatment — only, on a microcosmic, individual scale.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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