OPM Disability Retirement: Future Perspectives

People often act without forecasting prospective issues. In filing for disability retirement, it is important to take into account the emphasis and basis upon which one files for Federal Disability Retirement, because when an approval is given by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM identifies the specific medical disability upon which they granted the approval. As such, it is important for the applicant to base the application upon the medical condition/disability, in the sequence of importance, the most serious to the least serious.  This is important not only for purposes of winning disability retirement cases, but further, with a view to the future:  when the random Medical Questionnaire is sent to a disability retirement annuitant, if the medical condition upon which you were approved for was a minor, “least serious” medical condition, then 5 years or 10 years down the road, it may well have “resolved”, which puts you in danger of losing your disability retirement benefits.  This is why it is important to have a view to the future, and guidance and advice from an attorney is important in securing that future investment.  For, ultimately, obtaining disability retirement benefits which could potentially be the primary source of income for the next decade or two, is an investment for the future.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

2 thoughts on “OPM Disability Retirement: Future Perspectives

  1. John

    When it comes to the medical questionaire it is often impossible to predict OPM’s methodology and though getting such a questionaire should be taken serious worrying about getting one should not be something you do! I agree one should always keep the possiblity of such a questonaire in the back of their mind but, and if they get such a questionaire the first person they should contact is an attorney such as Mr. McGill, it is often to difficult to predict OPM’s methodology in this area. All, who are on disability, know the standard answer from OPM which states the process is random and computer generated. But are we really expected to believe an annuitant wheel chair bound is as equally likely to get a medical questionaire as someone who has an anxiety disorder? I know I don’t believe such non-sense. Equally if such a thing was true, and the process is totally random, then being selected for a medical questionaire would be akin to winning the lottery! I would venture to say thousands of former federal employees are on disability retirement. I would further venture to say thousands of disability retirees have similiar retirement dates. Now OPM says you can be selected for medical questionaires up to age 59! This presents an issue as well. How many former federal law enforcement officers receive OPM disability benefits? The minimum retirement age for federal law enforcement officers is any age with 25 years of service or age 50 with 20 years of service and their is mandatory retirement at age 57. You can’t be hired as a law enforcement officer if your over 37 and that is because of the 20 retirement rule. So in that respect how are law enforcement officers, who have lower minimum retirement ages, in some cases as low as age 47, and lower maximum retirement dates, age 57 for most federal officers, dealt with concerning this medical questionaire. I mean it would seem really wrong to even suggest a medically retired police officer, in their 50’s, could return to their line of work even if they are recovered from a disability and in fact if a hypothetical medical questionaire came at age 58 the law would not allow such a federal police officer to return to work even if they were medically recovered. So one has to wonder how such things are dealt with by OPM! I myself retired over 10 years ago and just the basic OPM answer on how they select questionaire recepients rings a bit hollow to me. However I do know the standard is less and getting one is really no big issue as long as you take it serious and use an attorney to assist your doctor in filling it out. But I understand why folks worry. Good Day, John.

  2. Tom

    I wanted to put a quick input in on the law enforcement retirement issue. The MRA, minimum retirement age, for federal law enforcement officers is any age with 25 years of federal law enforcement service or age 50 with 20 years of service. As noted, in previous post, new federal law enforcement officers usually can’t be hired after the age 37 though on rare occasions a waiver to age 39 has been granted. The maximum retirement age for most federal law enforcement officers is 57 though once in a while a rare waiver will extend that age to 59! I’m not retired but If I understand disability retirement correctly each year you spend on disability retirement adds a year of service to your record. For example if you retire on disability with 18 years of federal service then each year your on disabilty adds to your years of service. I think it would be hard for a law enforcement officer who has either surpassed his 20 years of service or has reached age 50 to lose his retirement no matter what! With the minimum retirement age for law enforcement officers being age 50 I think any OPM medical questionaire at that age would really be useless to OPM. I don’t think they can take the retirement anyhow. Equally if your total years in service, both while working and while on disability retirement, totals 20 years or more I don’t see how your retirement can be taken either. In short I think if someone has to take a disability retirement from a law enforcement position late in ones career I think your retirement is very safe. I don’t think OPM would ever be successful in taking the retirement of a law enforcement officer after age 50 and I think it highly unlikely for ones retirement to be taken with 20 years of service or more. Just an opinion but I think law enforcment retirement laws are clear on that issue.

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