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

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

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Continuing Patience

It is difficult to be patient.  The Office of Personnel Management, in reviewing and evaluating each case, takes its time.  One can attempt to “read into” each day, as to whether the longer wait is more beneficial than a decision which is to be made in short order.  Calling to check on the “status” of the case can have a negative effect upon a decision, although it is not “supposed to” do so. 

Often, the response by OPM’s representative is that a decision will be made “this week” or “next week” or “by the end of the month”.  Time passes, and there is no decision.  These past couple of weeks, OPM has sent out many decisions that were long-in-waiting.  When the decision is a favorable one, then of course the burden of the wait is suddenly lifted.  When the decision is a denial, then the response is often one of anger, disbelief or discouragement.  Once the emotions are set aside, then one must accept the reality of further waiting.  Yes, patience is a virtue, and Federal and Postal employees must be the virtuous of all people.  But those are empty, vacuous and meaningless words when one must wait to see what the future holds. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Snow (and More Snow)

By all accounts, the amount of snow which has hit the D.C. & surrounding metropolitan area constitutes a record amount. With 25 – 30 inches already on the ground and stretching the resources of state and local governments, there is another winter weather warning, of another 10-plus inches of snow. The Federal Government has shut down today (Monday); that means that the Office of Personnel Management, Disability Retirement Section, has been shut down. While the white blanket is certainty a picture of beauty to behold, those who have Federal Disability Retirement applications awaiting a decision, and those who will be shortly filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS will have further delays because of the shut-down of the Federal government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: All Things Equal

Of course, in life, all things are NOT equal. Some cases get approved within a couple of weeks; others, seemingly for months sit on an OPM Representative’s desk, with not even a glance or a reason for the extensive delay. As night approaches, and this area gleams with the white of snow, a virtual dreamland of snow piled feet upon feet; whether Washington, D.C. will even open this week, or enter the week with the “liberal leave” policy; and, yes, of course there is tele-commuting, but the effectiveness of that is also based upon people ultimately coming in for files, additional information, etc. This week, all things are not equal; Washington, D.C. is frozen in time, in weather, and in a beauty of sheer whiteness; in the quietude of nightfall, only the dreams of children and the shrills and shrieks of sleds and snowballs matter; for those who have Federal Disability Retirement applications waiting to be approved by the Office of Personnel Management, patience must still remain a virtue to be sought after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM, Washington, D.C. & Snow

The three constitute a bad mixture: Washington, D.C. shuts down with barely an inch of snow, and the mere forecast of snow sends everyone to delirious panic; here, we have a forecast of 10 – 20 inches of snow, and panic has turned to pandemonium, and there is a calm quietude of resignation: the Office of Personnel Management, located in Washington, D.C., in a city with a forecast of a major snowstorm — result? A certainty of shutdown, a backlog of work, and further delays. For my clients (and those who are not my clients) who are awaiting the Office of Personnel Management to make a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, further patience is needed. The combination of the three: OPM, Washington, D.C., and snow, simply do not mix. All I can do is watch the fluffy white stuff come down upon a deepening nightfall, and hope that spring will come early. Sigh.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire