Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Expectations

Expectations are peculiar anticipatory states of being; based upon an accurate assessment of factual considerations, they can comport with a true sense of reality; dependent upon an unrealistic foundation of pure desire and want, it can lead to a devastating loss of trust.  In order to avoid unrealistic expectations, it is necessary to evaluate and assess, as much as possible, facts from past experience, objective present circumstances, and projection of fairly accurate intuitions for the future.

For Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a realistic expectation as to all aspects and corridors of the benefit itself is necessary in order to survive the entirety of the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal.

From evaluating the strength of one’s medical support, to the ability to convey a persuasive argument and case to an agency which reviews tens of thousands of Federal Disability Retirement cases; from a realistic timeframe of the entire process from start to finish; to financial considerations and future earnings potential and whether one can work in another job or vocation.  All such considerations should be evaluated and discussed.

In the end, however, the Federal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits often is confronted with limited choices: to continue working under the same conditions, that is, doing with the same tasks in the same Federal occupation (normally not an option, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is considered in the first place); to walk away without filing for disability retirement benefits (almost never an option — self-evidently so); or filing for disability retirement benefits (the necessary option, and why it is being considered in the first place).

It is the expectations which often dismay, however, and it is a good idea to keep that animal in a cage of realistic assessments.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Backbone of Agencies

While the greater geopolitical standoffs continue, it is always the backbone of the agencies which is most profoundly impacted.  The Federal and Postal Workers (yes, fortunately the latter are exempted from the shutdown) who daily toil and keep government services running, are sent home only to return when the whims of compromise decide to restart the indifferent bureaucracy.

For those Federal Workers who suffer from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of the job, the backlog of work will only mount, putting greater pressure upon the need to toil harder.  The backlog will only exponentially increase at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, also, and at each agency’s Human Resources Department which processes all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Postal Workers are somewhat more fortunate, in that the H.R. Shared Services remains open to process all Federal Disability Retirement applications; but forwarding them to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will only await the opening of their doors.

Lines will be forming; but for the Federal Worker who cannot perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the most important thing to do right now is to get in line, prepare one’s application, and submit it as early as possible.  Backbones aside, there will be much work for OPM once the Federal Government is up and running, again.

For the Federal and Postal Worker preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the virtue of patience will again be tested.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Shutdown

It is always the unassuming worker who becomes impacted by the larger geopolitical decisions made by the power brokers of the world.  While the short term impact of the current government shut down will apparently not interrupt the flow of disability pension checks, we must wait to see whether a protracted stalemate will reverberate with negative consequences.

For Federal and Postal Workers who are facing the unwanted challenges of a medical condition, and who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the current state of affairs will likely mean further delays in the processing of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

As personnel offices in agencies across the United States shut down, so the magnitude of interrupted processing of disability retirement packets will exponentially increase over time.  But Federal and Postal workers who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have no real alternative options than to move forward; the sooner one files, the sooner one is able to find a place in line; and though the line may move at a slower pace, it will ultimately move nonetheless.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Unresponsive Agency

The complaints abound, and continue to exponentially increase; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is way behind on its evaluation, review and decision-making process for all characters of retirements, disability retirements included.

It is a given that filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must necessarily have an expectation of a time-consuming administrative process, precisely because of the encounter with a Federal bureaucracy.  But it seems that each year — nay, each month and week — the delays continue to expand.

At each step of the way, OPM has become more and more unresponsive, and with new cases coming in, the length of time at every stage, and “between” stages, has been extended.  The process itself contains inherent milestones of delay: from filing the entire disability retirement application to a facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which merely annotates the receipt of the case and inputs the case into the computer system; to thereafter sending the disability retirement application, with all of its evidentiary submissions and attachments down to Washington, D.C., where it must first await assignment to a caseworker; then, upon assignment, for the caseworker to even get to the applicant’s submission for review and evaluation.  Then, of course, there is the possibility that the entire packet will be selected to be sent out for review by a contract doctor.

The delays are beyond the control of the applicant, his or her OPM Disability attorney, or the agency for whom the applicant worked.  It is, ultimately, an administrative process which can be tedious, time-consuming, and fraught with delays and extended periods of silence.

Patience may well be a virtue, but the unresponsive manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has handled the delays, fails to engender much confidence in a system which should be most responsive to those in greater need.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Cycle of Patience

It is a common element, now, in a Federal Disability Retirement case to require patience in surviving the bureaucratic process, and while recognizing the cycle of the process does not make it any easier, understanding the entirety of the process can help one to prepare.  

There is initially the preparatory process, which is almost exclusively within the purview of one’s control — of preparing and formulating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A); of obtaining the proper medical narratives and documentation (although, here, the time frame is obviously dependent upon the availability of the treating doctor to prepare the narrative reports) and any introduction of legal argumentation in support of the Federal Disability Retirement packet, etc.

Then, submission to the Agency takes it partially out of the control of the individual Federal or Postal applicant — although, because of the obvious employment connection to the Agency, the Federal or Postal employee can often make phone calls or other contact to attempt to persuade the expediting of the secondary bureaucratic process.  

Once it leaves the Agency Human Resources Department, or the greater Civilian Personnel Office, then it is out of the hands and control of the Federal or Postal employee entirely, and must wind itself through the bureaucratic maze and morass of the National Finance Office and the Office of Personnel Management.  OPM, like any other agency, is subject to seasonal delays based upon Federal workers who take vacations and time off — Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Memorial Day weekend/week, and throughout the months of June, July and August.  A week’s delay in a Case Worker’s assigned cases can exponentially quantify the delay-time, because upon return of the worker, there are other administrative functions which must be attended to which further compounds the ability to take up where he or she left off.  

Patience is a virtue; as such, Federal and Postal Workers must be the most virtuous of human beings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire