FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Expectations

Puppies are special creatures.  They give their loyalty and love unconditionally, and only ask to explore the world we present within the constraints we define.  They are expected to grow old with us; and when they die young, it is a tragedy beyond comprehension.  To cease before one’s time is difficult to bear, precisely because one’s expectation is that the next generation will carry forth where the previous one left off; and so we view the world in this logical, sequential manner of linear progression.

The puppy grows; he may not live as long in terms of human dimensional existence, but we expect our companion to accompany our linear presence.

Careers are formed that way.  We expect incremental progression; for the Federal and Postal Worker, step increases and annual recognition through monetary incentives for the valuable work which is performed.  But life has a way of interrupting our expectations; and just as the life of a puppy may suddenly and without reason end through an accident or illness, so a career may be cut short because of reasons beyond one’s control.  When life’s harshness intersects with human expectations, a change of one’s linear thought processes must occur.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is available for all Federal and Postal employees who have met the minimum eligibility rules of 18 months of Federal Service (for FERS) and 5 years (for CSRS employees).  It is that benefit which must be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for those whose expectations have been cut short because of a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

As the precious life of a puppy may unexpectedly encounter the harshness of the world in which we live, so the Federal or Postal employee may face the same hardships; however much we may try to cushion and protect, both for the Federal and Postal employee, as well as for that special creature.

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