Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Taking the Longer View

The converse viewpoint of the short-sale, or short-term view, is the obvious:  to look to one’s future with a long-term view, which often takes self-discipline in ignoring the short-term gain.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often difficult to disregard the attraction of OWCP payments, and to instead plan for one’s future by opting for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM.

Under FECA/DOL, OWCP pays 75% of one’s Federal or Postal salary tax free (if one has dependents), and 66 2/3% without dependents.  That is a sizable compensatory attraction.  However, with limited exceptions, when one is under the thumb of OWCP, you:  A.  Cannot work at another job, B.  Must do what OWCP says in order to continue the benefit, C.  Must be careful, as the watchful eye, especially in the form of a video camera, may be anywhere and everywhere, and D. Will likely be subjected to second and third opinion doctors, as well as a nursing case manager, to try and expedite your return to your job.

Ultimately, OWCP is not a retirement system, and the job of the Department of Labor is to get you back to your former job as quickly as possible.  OPM Disability Retirement, on the other hand, is a compensatory system whereby one is encouraged to go out and begin anew.  The long-term view is often the harder road to take; it is, however, meant to reward one for a lifetime, as opposed to a momentary and fleeting memory which will end soon enough.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Concern of Age

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a multiplicity of factors must be considered in coming to the initial decision of deciding to proceed forward — some concerning the immediate impact; others focusing upon an intermediate journey of some years hence (for example, a future time of a year of two, of whether to find another job, whether to seriously apply for SSDI with its offset provisions and its restrictive components on outside earned income, etc.); and still other issues with ultimate “end-goals” in mind.

As for the latter issues, the concern of age can be a tripartite one:  Is being young, with the minimum of 18 months of Federal Service (or 3 – 5 years, say) a concern when it comes to the scrutiny of OPM?  The short answer to such a question is that, whether one is 35 years old or 55, the primary basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application is whether one has the proper and effective medical support in order to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

A secondary concern regarding age focuses upon the other side of the spectrum — if one is 59, 60 or 61 years old, is it worthwhile to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, if only because at age 62, when OPM recalculates the Federal Disability Retirement benefit based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, is it monetarily worthwhile?  This is a simple issue of calculating the options — Can one wait until regular retirement?  Does the comparison between regular retirement and disability retirement warrant filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  What is the financial comparison, and since OPM Disability Retirement takes 8 – 10 months to get (minimum), is it worthwhile?

A third factor to consider concerning age, has to do with the longevity of a worker’s lifespan:  since the time on disability retirement counts towards one’s total number of years of service, the extra percentage of annuity — even if it amounts to 1 or 2% — will compound exponentially over the course of a person’s lifetime, if a person lives to be 80 or 90.

Age is always a concern — one which is never reflected upon in the reckless days of one’s youth; and one can only hope that as youth fades and age creeps upon us, a parallel universe of wisdom also accompanies the wrinkles of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Relative Costs

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, there is always the question of costs involved — of the time frame it takes to get from point A (the initiation of the process) to point B (the conclusion of the process — but more importantly, the receipt of actual payment from the Federal Treasury for one’s disability retirement); of being on LWOP for so long; using one’s savings; etc.

However, one needs to also take into account the “relative” cost for the long-term — such as the slow and progressive deterioration of one’s health if one continues to work at a job which is clearly exacerbating and progressively impacting one’s medical conditions; the cost of early retirement as opposed to being on Federal Disability Retirement, where the number of years that a person is on Federal Disability Retirement counts toward the total number of years of Federal Service, such that when Disability Retirement is converted to “regular retirement” at age 62, those years on Disability Retirement are calculated into the total number of years of Federal Service — and thus the cost of not taking that into account, especially if one lives for many, many years thereafter; the cost of having a Federal Disability Retirement application be denied at the First Stage, and thereby necessitating going to the Second, Reconsideration Stage, or the third stage, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and beyond.

Thus, the definition and conceptual meaning of “cost” can be relative, and can be viewed in terms which go beyond the immediacy of one’s monetary resources.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire