OPM Disability Retirement: OWCP & Federal Disability Retirement

I often tell my clients that OWCP/DOL is not a retirement system. It is a system which was meant to address the medical injury resulting from a work-place accident or occupational hazard resulting in a medical issue arising, such that compensation is allowed for a period of time during a process of recuperation.

As unfortunate as it is, Worker’s Comp has become synonymous with “harassment” and “difficult”, where approval for wage compensation, for medical treatment (including necessary surgery) has meant months and months — and often years — of wrangling and fighting; of having an OWCP case manager or adjuster being rude, failing to respond, failing to return telephone calls, and just when it seems as if something may be done, the OWCP caseworker is switched to someone else who is equally unresponsive.

Then of course there is the intrusiveness — of the OWCP nurse who sits in with you and your doctor, in a context where it is as if the “enemy” is watching that relationship which is supposed to be sacred and private:  a conversation between a doctor and the patient. It is, as I have often told clients, “a hard road to travel.”  Yet, where the medical condition, injury or disability arises as a result of a work-place accident, obviously it is financially beneficial because it pays more. That is the bottom line.  Further, it is tax-free.  But it is not a retirement system. 

Disability retirement pays less; it matters not whether the injury or medical condition occurred “on the job”; you are not required to be examined by a “second opinion doctor”; you do not have to obtain prior approval from a case manager to go and seek medical treatment.  But the benefits are much lower; it is taxable.  However, is it disability retirement.  In such a retirement, you are meant to go out and to do other things in life, including other work.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

5 thoughts on “OPM Disability Retirement: OWCP & Federal Disability Retirement

  1. Nick

    Hi Robert. I have a question for you regarding federal worker’s compensation. I am a special agent with the federal government and was injured on the job. I have been out for almost six months. The doctor has released me for restricted duty. One of my restrictions is no driving. I have a government vehicle that I use for commuting and work related duties. So, until this restriction is lifted, I cannot drive for work. My injury is on my right leg. What are my rights and what are the employers obligations? They informed me yesterday that they are filling my job with an actor (i am a supervisor) for a detail not to exceed a year. During this time, can I request to work from home in another capacity, since I cannot drive. If so, how long can I continue to work from home? Any help is appreciated.

  2. kevin lindenzweig

    I have a question about I was injured on the job July 28 2009. The doctor has me released me back to work with a profile that doesn’t meet my job requirements. So what will happen next? I have look all over the OPM web-site but can find anything.

  3. kevin lindenzweig

    I am a dual status Federal Technician. Today I received my discharge orders from the Texas Army national. Due to medical,, I sent the discharge orders to my HRO what is the next step for me. I am also drawing 80% from the VA due to a combat injury. I ready for this to be over I understand about the 60% for the first year then 40% after that. I have 9 years as a technician


  4. Jerry Hudson

    I worked as a law enforcement officer and was injured on the job during my probationary period. My former employer terminated me due to a medical reason and placed this information in the termination letter. I did not complete18 months under FERS when I got fired. I received OWCP benefits. The question is this:
    Could I receive disability retirement benefits under FERs without completing the 18 months due to my former employer terminating me for a medical reason before I could complete the mandatory time for disability retirement?
    To add, my employer never gave me notice about the possibility that I could receive disability benefits under FERS before I was let go.

  5. Elias

    March 13,2003 turn into management post office where employe certification of disability CA 7 got my retirement disability payments wrote call on phone owcp said no record CA7 turn in I do have copies with post office ring stamp date when all forms and inital supvisor on documents were turn in my case can I still claim from my original of copies

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