USPS & OPM Federal Employee Disability Retirement: One of Those Days

There are “those days”, so characterized because of the micro-calamities which, in their cumulative impact, disproportionately reveal a compendium of aggregated irritants amounting in totality to a forgetful epoch of one’s life.

By contrast, a medical condition of an insidious nature, progressively deteriorating, chronic in persistence and debilitating in severity, magnifies tenfold — nay, a hundred, a thousand, a ten-thousand-fold impact of exponential consequences — the remembrances of pain, psychiatric turmoil, and the bitter acknowledgment that life’s meaningful embrace has lost its luster.

The vibrancy of youth, of formidable tolerance for reckless antics and disregard of forbearance and calm rectitude of reasoned behavior, now replaced with caution and trepidation, lest the excruciating pain explodes unmanageably and coworkers can see that you are one of the ones who are now an “outsider”, like those of old, isolated, quarantined and banished to the leper colony, no longer extolled of the talents and virtues once possessed.

While microcosmic calamities can be shrugged off with an excuse of blaming some external circumstances, the problem with medical conditions is that it is tied singularly, inextricably, and undeniably, to the person “possessing” the medical condition; and like siamese twins who share a vital organ, one cannot extricate from the consequences of a medical condition as one can from a spilled cup of coffee.

For the Federal worker or Postal employee who suffers from a health condition, such that the medical condition constitutes a daily cup of spilled coffee, the choices are quite clear: remain in the same capacity and bear the brunt of the daily calamities; resign and walk away with little to nothing to show for one’s lifetime efforts; or the more viable option, to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

One can sit and sigh, and resign one’s self to accepting fate as characterized as “one of those days”; or fate can be controlled, maneuvered and manipulated, to where those days of calamitous casuistry can be relegated to forgettable events of days bygone, and where the Federal or Postal employee can begin to rebuild a future based upon an OPM Disability Retirement annuity which allows for a base annuity, along with the potential to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

Thus, just as a cup of coffee spilled can be cleaned up; so the hallmark of “one of those days” can be merely an isolated event in an otherwise greater spectrum of life’s potentialities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Intersection with VERA

Questions always abound when Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service offer incentivized programs under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) propounded by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  In accepting a VERA, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition must take into account whether the VERA should take the place of a Federal Disability Retirement application, or whether it will merely be the first step in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

Often, because Federal Disability Retirement takes many months in order to secure and procure, Federal and Postal employees considering such an option will elect to accept a VERA in order to have some income during the time of filing for, and waiting upon, a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Questions which the potential Federal or Postal VERA annuitant should ask themselves include: What impact does a Federal Disability Retirement application have upon a VERA? Is there an offset between Social Security and the VERA annuity, as opposed to the offset which occurs under Federal Disability Retirement, and if so, which provides greater financial sense? Are there provisions where, if the Federal or Postal employee accepts a VERA, one must repay any lump sum incentive which is offered, if one subsequently files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits and gets it approved?

While it often makes sense to accept a VERA, then to subsequently file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service as a result of the VERA, one should nevertheless do so with full knowledge and information.

As a final point, in addition to obtaining all information and basing one’s decision upon full knowledge, the fact that the years which one is on Federal Disability Retirement counts toward the total number of years of one’s Federal Service, should always be factored in — especially if one lives to be a ripe old age, where one’s retirement nest egg will be an important future consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The (non) Problem of Causality & Causation

In a Worker’s Comp (DOL/OWCP/FECA) case, causation and causality often loom as significant issues, and doctors often have to walk a difficult line in making unequivocal statements, or somewhat equivocating statements, as to the “cause” of a medical condition or injury.  Such statements can sometimes be the singular focus as to the success or failure of an OWCP case.  Why?  Because OWCP compensable injuries and medical conditions must be related to the job — either as something caused by an accident while on the job, or in some way occupationally related. 

In Federal Disability Retirement cases under FERS or CSRS, one can be on a skiing vacation and incur a medical condition or disability, and so long as that person is unable to, because of the medical condition, perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, one is thereby eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS. 

Sometimes, however, the issue of causation comes into the picture, but can work in a detrimental way, but need not.  Let me clarify:  In a chemical sensitivity case, or a psychiatric condition which finds its originating “causation” from the workplace, the doctor may want to relate the “cause” of the medical condition directly to the workplace.  This is fine, so far as it goes — and, ironically, most doctors (because they have no idea about FERS or CSRS disability retirement) think they are doing their patients a favor by relating it as “causally related” to the workplace.  More often than not, however, it can open up a “can of worms” — of being characterized by the Office of Personnel Management as a “situational disability”, which must be avoided like the plague.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire