I still get calls by people who state that (A) they are waiting for a year before they are going to file for FERS or CSRS disability retirement, (B) It hasn’t been a year since they have been on LWOP, but it almost will be, or (C) They are waiting to be terminated so that their year will begin. Quiz: Which of the above (A, B or C) is the correct basis upon which to decide to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? Answer: None of the Above.
Since OPM disability retirement can take anywhere from 6 – 8, sometimes 10 months to get (beginning the time-sequence from the time a doctor is contacted to provide a medical report, to putting the entire packet together, to getting it to the Agency Human Resources Personnel, to getting it to Boyers, PA, to getting it to Washington, D.C., to getting an initial approval, etc.), it is: A. Not a good idea to “wait a year” because there is no reason to wait; B. You don’t need to wait a year on LWOP to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and: C. You don’t need to get terminated, or separated from Federal Service, in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
Let me re-emphasize: The “1-year rule” has to do with the following: A. You have one (1) year from the date you are separated from Federal Service to file for disability retirement — but you can file at any time, whether separated or not, as long as it is not after 1 year after being separated from service. B. Your medical condition must be expected to last for a minimum of 12 months — but your treating doctor should be able to tell quite easily whether or not the medical condition for which you are being treated will last that long — normally within a couple of months of treatment.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire