OPM Disability Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Looming Crisis

Whether the Federal government temporarily shuts down, and for how long, is ultimately besides the point; the essence of the problem concerns the long-term viability of government operations, and the ability to sustain benefits promised, or to refine and reform, to what extent, and in what manner.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the medical and work challenges already faced have created an unstable atmosphere, and so the potential looming crisis is merely a further problem to be dealt with.

The fact that the Federal government is unable to agree upon a budget process which has been impending for quite some time, is just another testament to the cold and indifferent attitude of a bureaucracy which fails to account for the daily needs of its citizens.  There have been government shutdowns in the past; and there will be more in the future.

For the Federal and Postal employee, what impact will be felt as a result of the contentious legislative process, will have to be seen.  In the meantime, however, what the Federal and Postal employee must do is to pursue the process, regardless of what Washington does, in order to stand in the proverbial line of the Federal bureaucracy, hoping for a favorable outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Looming Government Shutdown

Whether or not there comes to fruition the possibility of a government “shutdown”, partial, and to what extent, etc., the underlying reverberations result in the anxiety it causes to thousands of Federal and Postal workers, both Federal Disability Retirement annuitants and to the applicants who are awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management.  

Those who are receiving an annuity will likely be unaffected, for the wheels of bureaucracy should continue to issue the annuity checks and electronic deposits.  Those awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management will likely experience a longer wait — a wait on top of the already unbearable timeframe which the Office of Personnel Management is subjecting the applicants of a Federal Disability Retirement.  

Ultimately, it is a preposterous situation where those who are blameless in the matter (the hardworking Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS) will be the very ones who will be subjected to the consequences of looming budget crisis. Certainly, the current budgetary growth trend is unsustainable (that is not an arguable point); but annuitants of a Federal Disability Retirement under either FERS or CSRS do not appreciably contribute to the budget deficit.  Many go on to other jobs and careers and pay taxes, precisely because Federal Disability Retirement allows for a Federal or Postal worker to go out and earn another income from another job.  However, as with so many events in life, it is those who are least responsible who must bear the brunt of a crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Intersection with Other Benefits

Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management is an independent benefit from an independent agency.  However, there may be some intersecting features which are important to understand, prior to beginning the process.  

A disability annuity, whether under FERS or CSRS, has an “off-set” feature with certain other federal annuities, by statutory mandate and direction, but not with certain others.  For instance, there is a coordinating offset with Social Security Disability (under FERS), and an election must be made between OWCP Temporary Total Disability payments and Federal Disability Retirement benefits (except for scheduled awards).  On the other hand, there is no offset between a Federal Disability Retirement annuity and VA disability payments.  

In making a decision as to whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, each Federal and Postal employee should be fully informed as to the offsets with other Federal benefits and payments, as well as whether there are limits and restrictions as to the amount of other “earned income” a person may be allowed to make.  

The importance of finding out which benefits are fully or partially offset is important in making a final decision as to whether it is financially feasible to proceed in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Of course, in the end, it is usually a medical decision which is paramount — out of necessity, and not out of choice– as opposed to a financial one.  However, it is nevertheless important to know what is on the other side of the cave, before one enters it to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire