Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: FMLA and Federal Disability Retirement

FMLA, or the “Family and Medical Leave Act“, allows for the Federal or Postal employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid (LWOP) leave during a 12 month period.  It is “protective” measurement against adverse actions by an Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  

While the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS may take longer than the 12-week period, it nevertheless allows for some protection during the administrative process.  Moreover, if timed properly, it can fend off adversarial actions, harassment, undue pressure, etc., in conjunction with other requests and actions — such as taking sick leave, annual leave, etc.  

Often, agencies become irrational and impatient during the long administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, acting as if the Federal or Postal employee has any control over the timing or the timeframe taken by the Office of Personnel Management. While FMLA has no direct connection to OPM Medical Retirement, it is one more “tool” that the Federal or Postal employee may utilize to shield one’s self against the aggressive actions of the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Agency, FMLA and LWOP

Because filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a process which may take 6 – 8 months, and sometimes longer, there is always the question of what the Agency will do during this time.  Of course, a Federal or Postal employee will often continue to work for as long as possible, and for as many days during each enduring week as possible, in order to survive economically during the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  The medical condition itself, however, will often dictate the feasibility of attempting to continue to work. 

During this period, a Federal or Postal employee may have limited options — especially when Sick Leave and Annual Leave have been exhausted.  Protection by filing under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will accord temporary protection and a buffer against a demanding agency.  A further request to be placed on LWOP beyond the 12 weeks which FMLA will allow for, will often be granted at the discretion of the Agency. 

If an agency places one in AWOL status, such an action by the Agency should be countered with documentation from one’s doctor which justifies the continued absence of the Federal or Postal employee.  Unfortunately, there is often no clear answer to the question, “What if my agency fails to cooperate while I am filing for Federal Disability Retirement?”  There are only responsive steps to take in order to protect the ultimate goal — that of obtaining an approval from the Office of Personnel Management.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire