When should I file? This is a question which is asked often; it is a telling, revealing question, because it is often a rhetorical question. It is as if the question begs to be answered with an unequivocal, “You must file now”.
Aside from the time it takes, which is generally between 6 – 8 months from the time the entire process begins until the time the Office of Personnel Management approves an OPM Disability Retirement application at the First Stage of the process (and certainly this general time-frame needs to be taken into account because of financial circumstances, accrued sick and annual leave which may be used, and multiple other factors for consideration), the Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating when to file an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits generally knows the answer to the question.
As a general rule, if one asks the question, then the answer is already known. If one is expecting a PIP, comes home each day dreading and exhausted, living with the anxiety that the Agency is waiting for an excuse to get rid of the employee; if each night and weekends are spent just recuperating in order to make it into the office for another day, then to ask the question, “When should I file?” becomes merely a tautology. To arrive at that point is to make it into an emergency; it is better to project into the future; as a football coach once said, “The future is now.”
Robert R. McGill, Esquire