Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Initial Federal or USPS Disability Process

Many people get confused when they first consult with an attorney about USPS or Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Indeed, before consulting with an attorney, an individual who is faced with a medical condition which (1) is beginning to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position and (2) will likely last at least a year — such an individual should first take the time to research various websites to “get the facts” about Federal Disability Retirement. 

I have had many individuals tell me that they didn’t even know that such a benefit existed; that when they were separated from their U.S. Government gency, the Postal worker or Federal employee was never informed that he or she could file for Federal Disability Retirement.  Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse; if you don’t file for disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS with the Office of Personnel Management within one (1) year of being separated from service with the Federal Government, you will have lost your right to file — forever. 

Furthermore, it is dangerous to “take comfort” in the fact that the Department of Labor/The Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs deemed you to be 100% disabled.  That “100%” disabled status may last a lifetime, or it may last only so long as your particular OWCP caseworker is working on your case.  The next caseworker may take it upon him or herself and decide that, Well, no, perhaps you are not 100% disabled, and perhaps sending you to a “Second Opinion” doctor (who, it just so happens, is receiving about 95% of his or her income expounding such “second opinions”) will result in a medical finding that you miraculously “recovered” and are able to go back to work.  Benefits cut off.  You waited a year or more after being separated from Federal Service to find this out, without having filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  You are then, unfortunately, “out of luck”.  Make sure that you file in a timely manner; make sure that you do not take comfort in being on OWCP rolls.  Don’t forget —  Postal or Federal Disability Retirement is an annuity that you can rely upon as a “base income” for your financial security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

4 Responses

  1. HI, I AM A ACTIVE POSTAL WORKER (CITY CARRIER) AND I AM CURRENTLY ON OWCP BENEFITS FOR AN ON THE JOB INJURY. I HAVE HAD SURGERY TWICE FOR THE INJURY AND HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO DRIVE FOR OVER A YEAR NOW. THIS MONTH IT HAS BEEN A YEAR SINCE I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PERFORM MY ASSIGNED DUTIES. I AM INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MY OPTIONS OR I DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT ON ANY BENEFITS OR ENTITLEMENTS DUE. PLEASE ADVISE ON HOW THE SCHEDULE AWARD WORKS AND THE FEDERAL DISABILITY, THANKS.

  2. I was wondering about the following scenario: If I was to apply to SSDI first and get approved, would that forever preclude me from working and making more than the SSDI ceiling, or do I have the right to subsequently file with the OPM and be able to earn up to 80% of my pay.

  3. When i originally had my first surgery nobody was on my side 1998 it was hard i have had three since and am going through having to have my right hand done again because of my reassignment I gave up all my senoirity as a mail carrier and became a clerk and accepted my new ssa position and now I need surgery again. I have done everthing the usps wanted and I am now injured again. Now I need surgery on my right wrist with a possible left foloowing because of my attempt to go thru the reassessment program and allow them to send me to a clerk job as a ssa at the window….toooo much I have to have surgery now. The USPS decided I was retainable and I gave up my senority to become an ssa and now I am hurt again just tryin to comply so u decide what is more important u or them

  4. I am a VA postal worker who has been placed on suspension that has not yet been resolved, it has been two years since I was operated on my lower back, I have already been disabled by social security and was given the option to leave the USPS by disability retirement, I would like to know my rights under this tram.

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