So, how does one determine whether or not it is prudent to go out on LWOP completely, while awaiting for the decision on one’s application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS? Obviously, the initial criteria to be applied is whether or not you can afford to go out on LWOP. Economic necessity (aside from considerations of one’s health and medical ability/inability to go to work during the long, drawn-out process) becomes a primary consideration. If economic necessity dictates continuation of work, then the next question is, would your Agency consider allowing you to work 3 – 4 days a week, and allowing for 1 or 2 days to be taken off with LWOP? This might be a prudent approach, since any back-pay for the first year, once your Federal Disability Retirement application is approved and payments start, will be paid at 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years. Thus, mathematically, it would make sense: a minimum of 3 days of work quantifies to 60% or more, and so you would not be losing anything. However, if your weekly average falls below the 60%, then you might want to consider going out on LWOP completely (again, only if your personal finances will allow for such).
Robert R. McGill, Esquire