Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Suspect

Newspaper stories are replete with articles involving scams, dishonesty and crimes of financial improprieties; that is not surprising, given the nature of what constitutes “newsworthiness”.  Fraudulent claims involving disability applications are trumpeted loudly to reveal the disintegration of a system requiring structural integrity.  Of course, no one makes the distinction that such claims of fraud almost always involves the “other” disability system, and not the option available to Federal and Postal employees through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Just as all politicians are lumped together, so the aggregation and broad-painted brushing of anyone receiving a “disability” annuity is to be expected.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a different animal from the “other” disability system, and with good cause:

First, Federal and Postal employees do not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits until and unless it becomes a necessary option to take.  The general public cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, they complain that Federal and Postal employees have it “easy” with their Federal or Postal jobs; on the other hand, they grumble that receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits is taken advantage of by unscrupulous Federal and Postal employees. But if the employment itself is so easy, why would the Federal or Postal Worker take a lesser income by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  The fact is that most Federal and Postal employees work hard, and well beyond their rate of compensation, in furthering the mission of their agency or department; and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the furthest thing from the mindset of a Federal or Postal employee.

Second, because of the reduction of income accorded by an approved Federal Disability Retirement, many Federal and Postal employees must go out and seek employment in the private sector.  Yes, they can continue to receive the disability annuity so long as they remain under 80% of what the former Federal or Postal position currently pays; and yes, the combination of both the annuity and the employment income can aggregately comprise more than what the former Federal or Postal position was paying; but that is the very attractiveness and intelligence of the incentivized system. It encourages the Federal and Postal Worker to remain productive, and to “pay back” into the system. In essence, it is a self-paying enterprise.

And, Third, because Federal Disability Retirement recognizes that the disability is tied to a particular kind of job, there is very little room for abuse within the system.  One is encouraged to remain productive, and such an incentive allows for the system to remain economically viable.

In these difficult economic times, people are often afraid of considering filing for “disability” benefits; but for Federal and Postal employees who have given their time, life and (often) health in the pursuance of an agency’s mission, being treated like a “suspect” in a broadly-painted indictment is not only unfair, but reprehensible.  The Federal and Postal Worker has nothing to be ashamed about, and the fact that the general public may harbor some hidden resentments during these trying economic times, is merely a reflection upon the often petty nature of humanity, and not a true gauge of the work ethic of Federal and Postal employees throughout the country.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Angle

Angles are formed by two rays sharing a common endpoint; or, alternatively, it is defined by an attempt to achieve an end through indirect or artful means.  Both definitions tend to share a common thread — of not being “straight” with the intended goal.

In the 1954 classic musical, White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, there is a scene where Crosby notes that “everyone has an angle” — referring to the manner in which they were invited to review the duo sister act of the two eligible ladies in the movie.  While Crosby’s character in the movie had no problem with people having their personal angles in attempting to achieve an end, the rest of the world generally sees it quite differently.

It is precisely because there is a suspicion that hidden motives, unspoken intentions, and deliberately obfuscated reasons are veiled behind the overt actions of individuals, that people tend to be wary of others.  Newspaper stories abound with con artists; junk mail folders are replete with offers of bank transfers and “deals” to be made; and “free gifts” are rarely without strings attached.  It is because of suspicions of magnified proportions permeating our society, that the level of empathy parallels the societal degree of suspicion.

It is against such a backdrop that Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s capabilities to perform the essential elements of one’s job, that one must contend with the high sensitivity of societal suspiciousness.

With stories of fraud and abuse concerning Social Security Disability benefits; and with a stagnant economy and shrinking public sector funds, Federal and Postal workers under FERS or CSRS who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must battle against the backdrop of daily societal interludes.

It is indeed unfortunate, but people now view everyone else from the vortex of one’s angle; and however steep the angle might be, may determine how skewed one’s vision is; but for the Federal and Postal employee who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is ultimately the facts which are on the side of the applicant, which will prove the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire