FERS & CSRS Federal Disability Retirement: Reviewing the Position Description

There may be a wide chasm between what one’s position description states, and what one actually does in the position of the Federal or Postal job slot which one occupies.

Further, the fact that there may be a radical modification to one’s official duties in practical and real terms, does not obviate the fact that one may be required, at any time, to fulfill those duties and responsibilities as described in the official configuration of the position.

Finally, since the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in making a determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application, will never personally assess or observe what a Federal or Postal employee is actually doing in one’s office, out in the field, at the work station, etc., you must therefore always envision the process as one of bureaucratic administration — i.e., of looking at the paper presentation of the position description, and being restricted and constrained by what is contained therein.

That being said, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often a good idea to review the official position description when beginning to formulate one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A).  Some position descriptions are so generic in nature that it may required more “filling in the blanks” for purposes of describing the pragmatic essential elements which one must work; other descriptions may enlighten the Federal or Postal Worker and make the entire administrative process easier because of the onerous requirements as delineated in the official position description.

In either event, one must always remember that it is from the Federal or Postal position which one is medically retiring from and not what one may actually be doing.  Thus, recognition of the wide chasm which exists between what one ought to be doing, and what one actually does, may be one of the keys to a successful formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Extras, on Either Side

In performing a job, there is the basic parameter of the official “position description” for the Federal and Postal employee, which provides the foundational overview, the physical and cognitive demands of the job, and the necessary credentials and qualifications required before acceptance.

The reality of the actual workplace may somewhat modify the official establishment of one’s position, and that is to be expected:  generalities are often tailored to meet the needs of individual circumstances and situations presented by the local agency.  Beyond that, however, there is often the question of what constitutes “too much” on the one hand, and on the other side of the equation, what reduced modification of a position constitutes an accommodation under the law.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such a duality of questions will often be encountered.  Modification by a Supervisor of a position’s duties may well allow for the Federal or Postal employee to continue to remain in a position, without compromising one’s health.  Yet, does such unofficial modification constitute a viable accommodation such that it would preclude one from being eligible for Federal Disability Retirement?  Normally, not.

On the other side of the equation, does adding responsibilities to one’s official position description result in such additional duties becoming part of the essential elements of one’s job, such that the fact that one’s medical conditions may prevent one from performing such added responsibilities impact the eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement?  Again, normally not. But such issues must be approached with intelligence and armed with the tools of knowledge of the applicable laws.

Whatever the answers, the “extras” on either side of the equation must be approached with caution, lest one finds that the earth is indeed flat, and one can fall over the edge into an abyss of administrative nightmares in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Position Description

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to have a good idea of what the position description states — the one which the Federal or Postal applicant occupies, and the one which is reflected in the SF 50 or the PS Form 50, the personnel action form which designates and identifies the official position assigned to the Federal or Postal employee.  For, what the Federal or Postal employee does in a job, in real time and in the actual state of the job, may be significantly different from what is described in the position description itself.

One must understand that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the agency which makes all determinations on Federal Disability Retirement applications — does not have an agent sitting in one’s office, taking notes on the duties which one performs.  Thus, the case worker at OPM who receives and reviews the Federal Disability Retirement application, will come to be informed of the essential duties of a Federal or Postal employee, based upon a “paper presentation” that is set before him or her.

The comparison to be made between the medical condition proven and the essential elements of one’s job, will arise from OPM’s review of what is presented — the position description itself; the statement of one’s job in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and other documentation.

In making the comparison, it is ultimately from the position description itself from which one is retired, and if the applicant’s statement includes superfluous assertions otherwise not contained in the position description itself, the discrepancy may well go against the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Fortunately, most position descriptions are fairly generic in nature, and one can imply a variety of duties which are not otherwise specified in an official position description.  That is where creative writing and effective presentation comes into play.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire