Federal OPM Disability Retirement: The Simplicity of the Complex

It is not the forms which make it complex — although, the instructions which accompany the filling out of the Standard Forms make it appear more convoluted than necessary. Federal Disability Retirement for FERS & CSRS employees of the Federal Government and the U.S. Postal Service is actually quite simple in conceptual terms, and in the process of attempting to win an approval from the Office of Personnel Management, we encounter the complexity of the entire administrative process, thereby overlooking the simplicity of the actual law underlying the process. That is why it is often a good idea to periodically pause and “go back to basics” before moving forward on a disability retirement application.

As stated multiple times, disability retirement is essentially the linking of a “nexus” between one’s medical conditions, and one’s Federal or Postal position. By “linking” is meant the following: Does the medical condition from which one suffers prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job? If the answer to the question is “yes”, then you have passed the preliminary, fundamental, preconditional question.

The next question, or series of questions, of course, include the following: Do you have the minimum of 18 months of Federal Service (for CSRS individuals, 5 years)? Do you have a supportive doctor? Will your medical condition last for at least 1 year? These are just some of the basic, preliminary questions to ask, before considering the option of filing for Federal Disability retirement benefits. The questions and answers themselves are simple; as one gets more and more involved in the process, they become, in combination, procedurally and substantively a complex issue of meeting the legal criteria for approval. Underlying it all is a simple conceptual basis; the complexity comes in applying the law.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

1 thought on “Federal OPM Disability Retirement: The Simplicity of the Complex

  1. patricia bishop

    I was diagnosed, by Performance Health Medical Group, around Febuary 8, 2008 as having Bilateral Carpal Tunnel. I had surgery on my right hand on September 14, 2009. It worked great. However the surgery on my left hand on January 11, 2010 didn’t work (in my opinion). I have been employed with the Post Office since December 1, 1992 under FERS. I have been on OWCP total temporary disability since September 14, 2009. On May 3, 2010 I was allowed to return to work with heavy restrictions. As you know, at first no work is available. Then the Postmaster looked at my CA-17 again and assumed I could do my whole route. I said I’ll try and when I did I only lasted 1 1/2 hours then I was sent home. Again with the same restrictions I was to return to work May 18, 2010 and again no work. My left hand still hurts and sometimes it still goes numb. I’m still having trouble lifting up to 5 lbs with my left. Now I’m threatened with NRP. So I found your website and would like to know how to go out on OPM or FERS disability. I would greatly appreciate you helping me with this matter. Thank you. Patricia Bishop

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s