In making any decision, it is always important that one consider the alternatives available. It is the decision made in isolation — of contending with thoughts, fears and misinformation within a vacuum of not knowing — that often results in disastrous decisions made without consulting and considering the alternatives available.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where that medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the choices are often stark and clear: Stay at a job or career which is no longer sustainable, and where the Agency will increasingly harass and punitively initiate actions in an effort to remove you; resign and walk away with nothing; or, in the best alternative available, file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.
Sometimes, of course, the “unexpected” alternative can occur: For example, a person who has filed for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is offered a reassignment that is both acceptable and accommodating to one’s medical condition, and continuation in the Federal Workforce is thus possible. In most instances, however, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is “The” alternative, and the only viable one available, but even such an alternative must be considered carefully in light of the existing laws, the potentiality for problems to be encountered, and the resistance met by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the multiple and varied reasons that OPM bases its denials upon.
Considering the alternatives is not just a matter of whether and when to file, but to be cognizant of the difficulties ahead in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM; and in order to do that, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire