Postal and Federal Employee Disability & Injury Compensation Laws under FERS & CSRS: Decisions & Complexities

The complexities inherent in modern technological life, and the methodologies of arriving at a decision-making process, make for a consciousness counterintuitive to one’s natural state of being.  Rousseau depicted a romanticized version of man’s state of nature; but the point of his philosophical thesis was to provide a stark contrast to the civilized world of social compacts and the justification for societal intrusion into liberties and rights reserved exclusively and unequivocally.

In what epoch one was born into; whether one ever had the deliberative opportunity to accept or reject the social contract of today; and the greater historicity of man’s cumulative unfolding of unintended paths of social consciousness; these all provide the backdrop as to why life has become so complicated.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker, there is the added issues of multiplicity of bureaucratic layers, and the decisions which must be made in the greater context of the microcosm of another civilization of administrative facets:  what choices one is faced with; VERAs, MRA+10, Social Security Disability requirements; deferred Retirements; injuries on the job which may prompt an OWCP/DOL filing; and the seemingly endless avenues which the Federal and Postal employee may have to face.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is confronted with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, the option which should always be considered is Federal Disability Retirement.  If a medical condition exists, Federal Disability Retirement from the OPM is often the best and only option which will attend to the needs of the moment.

In the end, it is not the complexity of life which wears upon us all; rather, the capacity to engage a rational methodology of arriving at a proper decision, which cuts through the peripheral irrelevancies and provides a real-life, substantive basis for the meaningful values underlying the superficialities of daily fluff.

OPM Disability Retirement for the Federal and Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, may be the option of solving that greater conundrum when a medical condition begins to impact daily living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquir

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement Attorney: VERAs

With spring comes the rumors of love, furtive dalliances, clandestine consummation and intrepid interludes; as well as the potential for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority for Federal and Postal employees.  What the latter (known under the acronym of VERA) has to do with the multiple listings of the former (rumors of love, furtive dalliances, etc.) is anyone’s guess; perhaps there is no connection at all or, more likely, the cognitive comparisons we make have to do with offers of change, adventure, and a need to evaluate the impact of all of the above upon the security of one’s future.

The devil, as in all things, is in the details.  Whether a VERA is accepted or not should be based upon the incentivized offer; and it is often the short term gain (a large enough sum of cash “up front” in order to make it attractive), like the adrenaline-flowing excitement propelled by a romantic interlude, which compels the Federal and Postal worker to accept the VERA.

Be not fooled; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Worker is proposing a VERA not out of the kindness of their abundant hearts; rather, it is to streamline, strip and effectively make skeletal the overburdened bureaucracy of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service.  But the question, as applicable to all VERAs (as well as to romantic dalliances) is, Is it good for your future?

If the Federal or Postal worker must accept a VERA, the underlying reason and rationale is often because he or she can no longer continue in the job anyway; and, to make the point ever more poignant, that foundational reason for an inability to continue often involves a medical condition.  That being the case, it would be wise to evaluate and compare the short-term gain potentially attained through a VERA, as opposed to a long-term security of purposes accessed through filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Both a VERA and a Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Both are ways to discontinue the present set of circumstances the Federal and Postal employee finds him/herself in.  The VERA, however, is a plan of self-indulgent action proposed for the benefit of the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service; Federal Disability Retirement is a course of determination based upon the best-interests of one’s health and well-being.  And, like clandestine romances engaged in behind the locked doors of distant roadside motels, the VERA may merely be a response to a mid-life crisis leading to an emptiness in one’s soul once the excitement has passed.

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 Disability Retirement: Interaction with VER, A Continuing Dialogue

I sincerely hope that the proposed VERs which will be issued in the next couple of weeks will be economically viable and rewarding for those who qualify.  I say this because the primary criteria proposed for qualification involves those who are at least 50 years of age with at least 20 years of service, or any age with at least 25 years of service.  Anyone who has dedicated his or her life for a minimum of 20 years deserves something comparable to “full retirement” benefits.  My suspicions are raised, however, only because the motivating factor behind the offer is to target employees in specific locations where reductions in force or restructuring will be taking place — i.e., from the Post Office’s perspective, those places where greater “efficiency” can be obtained, at the cost of a person’s lifetime dedication and service to the Federal Government.  I realize that Adam Smith’s economic truth will always be at play — that self-interest leads to unintended consequences which, in a capitalist system, results in collateral benefits of employment, wide economic impact, etc.  But just make sure that, just as the Post Office is looking after its own interest first, that each Postal employee looks after his or her own interest, similarly — first.  Look at the VER carefully.  Compare it to disability retirement benefits carefully — not only in terms of “today’s” dollar value, but also into the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM Disability Retirement & Postal Service Voluntary Early Retirement (VER)

For multiple reasons, early retirement — if eligible; if offered; if … — is an option which must be considered by a Federal or Postal employee.  In the coming months, Voluntary Early Retirement will be offered to Postal Employees; each year, Federal employees who become eligible for some form of early retirement must make hard financial decisions.  In light of the present state of the economy (not good), an offer of early retirement (some not so bad) may have to be considered by the Federal or Postal employee.  In each case of such an offer, the details of any such offer must be carefully reviewed and considered — especially if, concurrently, a Federal or Postal employee is considering filing for disability retirement.  A Federal or Postal employee can only collect one or the other:  you can either receive an early retirement annuity, or a disability retirement annuity, but not both.  You can, however, consider filing for early retirement (in order to continue to have some income), then file for disability retirement within one year of being separated from Federal Service. 

If you take this route of filing for early retirement, then filing for disability retirement, you must be careful.  For instance, if a lump-sum payment is part of an early retirement package, will it have to be paid back if you file for, and are approved for, disability retirement?  Further, remember that the years that you are on disability retirement counts toward your total number of years of Federal Service, when it is recalculated at age 62.  This is an important point.  The short-term benefit of retiring early may not seem like such a good idea 10 years later when inflation eats into the annuity.  A cost-benefits analysis should look to all of the factors involved:  the annuity amount and difference between disability retirement and early retirement today; the difference of the annuity when disability retirement is recalculated, and those years while on disability retirement count towards your regular retirement; and the dollar difference calculated out to the life expectancy.  These are all considerations which must be looked at carefully — not just upon one’s short-term benefit of an early retirement (which may seem great), but more than that, for the long-term security of the Federal and Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire