OPM Disability Retirement: The Long Goodbye

The relegation to the basement office; the loss of niceties with coworkers; the negation of superlatives from higher ups; the clues become overt, blatant and uninviting.  Long goodbyes are often fertile ground for the souring of relationships forged over decades, and human interactions which reveal a perversity once thought uncommon.  Does the past count for anything, anymore?

Medical conditions and their impact are meant to evoke empathetic responses; instead, they often bring out the worst in humanity.  For Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, they portend of headaches and interruption of efficiency; they are a bother.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the growing absences, the need to attend to one’s medical conditions — all become the priority of life and living.

From the agency’s viewpoint, it is a malignancy of logistical magnitude; another problem to be solved; and the longer the goodbye, the greater the extenuating interruption.  It is this clash of interests which calls for resolution.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an indicator to the agency that there is an end in sight, and once filed, it is merely a waiting game before finality of decisions is reached.  Often, the mere filing relieves the increasing pressure felt, like the encasement of boiling water which needs an outlet.

Medical conditions often require a long journey of sorts; it is the long goodbye which makes it all the more evident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire