Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Agency Discretion

During engagement in the administrative process known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — applying for the benefit from the Office of Personnel Management — there is the ongoing fear by the Federal or Postal employee of being “fired” from one’s job.  The consequences of such an action, of course, can be rather severe.  

Often, losing one’s health insurance coverage, even if temporarily, can have a devastating impact (although, if it is any consolation, once one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits are approved by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM will pay to the health insurance carrier all premiums due and owing from any backpay, and the health insurance coverage will be reactivated as if there was never any break in coverage).  Or, the income from working as much as possible, or from use of sick leave, annual leave, etc., that was relied upon, will suddenly stop upon termination by the Agency.

Unfortunately, the courts and the Merit Systems Protection Board have been given wide discretion in initiating termination of a Federal or Postal employee based upon the “efficiency” of the Federal Service.  Many Federal and Postal employees fight against such termination and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to fight against such termination.  

While comment on the effectiveness of such a legal battle will be withheld, it is the opinion of this writer that a more efficient use of one’s resources is expended upon “negotiating” with the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service in formulating a compromise to effectuate the dual goals of the parties involved:  For the individual Federal or Postal employee, obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management; for the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, to rid itself of the employee and secure an empty positional slot to be filled by someone else.  

As two interests coincide, it is better to persuade the Federal Agency that such dual interests run on parallel paths, instead of intersecting as a collision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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