Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Agency Self-Interest

Self-interest is an interesting characteristic to observe — one which everyone possesses, but only the obtuse deny.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, be aware that the Agency has its own self-interest.

If the stated interest is couched in terms of the Federal or Postal employee’s “best interests”, it is good to be suspicious, or at least modestly cautious in embracing such a claim.  Such wariness in accepting the stated claim of one’s agency is obviously not a warning which most Federal or Postal employees would receive with any surprise; you have been Federal or Postal employees for many years, and those initial years of idealism and youthful enthusiasm have already been stamped out of you (let not the cynicism of this writer dampen the ardor of youth).

If one follows the advice of the Agency blindly, ask yourself the following question:  If you receive a denial at the First Stage of the process, will the agency respond in a helpful manner, or will they say:  It is not our responsibility — it is the Office of Personnel Management which makes the decision?  Is it a common experience that agencies defer responsibility when something goes wrong?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Reminding the Agency of the Administrative Process

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under the Federal Employee’s Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), a reminder is often necessary to the agency which retains the Federal or Postal employee on the active rolls, that it is an administrative process, and not a singular event representing an entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Of course, the Agency itself has a self-interested motive in the outcome of the Federal Disability Retirement application, especially if the Federal or Postal employee continues to occupy the positional slot of the agency.  For, so long as the Federal or Postal employee continues to remain on the rolls, it cannot officially fill the empty slot.

Thus, what often happens if a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Stage of the administrative process, is that the Agency will immediately attempt to threaten the individual and demand that the Federal or Postal employee return to work by a date certain, or justify the medical basis upon which the continuing absence occurs.  By then, all FMLA rights may have been exhausted; sick leave may be depleted, etc.

At this point, the Agency Human Resources Office needs to be reminded that, as an administrative process, there are multiple levels of appeals, and the mere fact that a Federal Disability Retirement application has been denied at the First Stage is not a basis for the Agency’s demand to return to work.

Agencies tend to be hard of hearing, however, and a law unto themselves.  That’s not surprising for most Federal employees and Postal workers; indeed, you have had to endure such a perspective of self-centered attitude throughout your Federal or Postal careers, and this information is merely reinforcement of what you already knew.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire