FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The Respite

Then there is the story of the office worker who was called in to discuss certain matters with the boss, and during the course of the conversation, boasted proudly that he had not taken a vacation in five years, thereby intimating his commitment and dedication to the company.

The boss became silent, shook his head gravely, and promptly fired the man on the spot.  In shock and dismay, the young office worker asked in exasperation why the boss would do such a thing, and the older man replied:  “Two reasons.  First, you need a vacation.  Now you have one.  Second, the company cannot afford to keep someone who fails to understand the needs of a human being.”  And so the irony of the young office worker reveals the self-contradiction of so many circumstances.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, the one truism which stands out is that those who are beset with a progressively deteriorating medical condition, can never take a “vacation” from the condition itself.  Thus, for those who are healthy, we often take for granted our state of existence.

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to have a period of respite, away from those very work activities which continue to exacerbate and compound the problem of the medical condition itself.

It may be that, in the end, there is little or no choice in the matter.

For, either the work will continue to suffer and the Federal agency or Postal Service will terminate the Federal or Postal worker, or the medical condition itself will dictate the terms of work cessation.  In either event, thought should be given to the future, and to a time of recuperative distancing from an activity which cannot continue forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Back Pay

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is important to focus upon the first of the three — preparing.  Preparation often involves thought, reflection, and contemplation.  Formulation requires action; and filing and the time thereafter requires patience.  

In preparing, one must address the issue of how best to survive the lengthy process — does one have sufficient accrued sick leave?  Can one survive without pay and take LWOP during the (potentially) 8 – 10 month process?  Will one be allowed to continue to work, even in a light-duty capacity?  If the latter, then it should be kept in mind that when a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, such an approval will provide for back pay all the way back to the last time a Federal or Postal employee was paid by the agency — whether it is a dollar, a hundred dollars, or a full paycheck.  

Thus, while acceptance and receipt of donated leave is often desirable, the time of having taken LWOP for any period of time will be negated with the last day of pay.  For example, if a Federal or Postal employee takes several months of LWOP, then accepts a pittance of donated leave, that time of LWOP is lost — for, again, back pay is paid only to the “last day of pay”.  Considerations to be reflected upon when preparing to formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Burning Bridges and Walking Away

When a Federal or Postal worker suffers from a medical condition — often, silently, and without complaint — and such medical condition(s) impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a tendency to engage in desperate acts, such as resigning, walking away from the job, etc. 

After so much time has vested, and has been invested, by the Federal or Postal employee in the pursuit of a Federal or Postal career; and after so much stress, anxiety, sometimes intolerable working conditions are endured; or, having expended so much loyalty and exerted so much effort in doing an excellent job for one’s agency, it is a self-contradiction to simply walk away from the Agency without filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, especially when such laws governing Federal Disability Retirement were set up precisely for the type of Federal or Postal worker who has performed well, but has come to a point in his or her career where a medical condition has impacted one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job. 

Perspectives are often “out of balance” when one suffers from a medical condition.  Before taking steps of “burning bridges” and resigning, it is best to consult an attorney and see what the possibilities are for preparing, formulating, and successfully filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: Defining Terms

In proceeding through the administrative and bureaucratic maze of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, one of the most frustrating encounters is the lack of an ability to concretely “define terms”, such that any disagreement with the Office of Personnel Management can be narrowly curtailed in order to allow for a proper response.  It is often contended that 99% of arguments and disagreements are non-substantive.  That is, because neither side defines the terms utilized in the argument, each side will argue at cross-purposes, never agreeing because there has been no prefatory attempt at defining the terms which are being used in the first place.  If you can, take the opportunity to sit and listen to two people arguing:  Are each using terms interchangeably and loosely?  Is person A using the terms in the same way and meaning as person B?  It is unfortunate that there is never an opportunity to have a “conversation“, in effect, with the Office of Personnel Management, before an Initial Decision is made. 

When one looks at an OPM denial, denying an initial Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application, the terms used, the criteria declared, the arguments made (if any), there is never a static point of reference in the terms defined.  Ultimately, of course, the point of needing to “define the terms” comes about at the Third Stage of the Process — at the Merit Systems Protection Board, where an Administrative Judge will be an arbiter and (hopefully) finally force a more stable use and definition of terms.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire