Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Restorative Measures

Sleep obviously has an evolutionary purpose.  Anxiety, stress, negative thoughts and perspectives; aggressive behavior, combativeness (otherwise known to spouses as “being grumpy”); inability to maintain one’s focus, concentration, attention to detail; all of these, and much more, can often be ameliorated by a good night’s sleep.

Stress is the overarching component which becomes exacerbated by lack of sleep; it feeds upon all other aspects of the human body, by impacting physical endurance and stamina, by increasing one’s cognitive dysfunctions and capacity to process the quantitative and qualitative amassing of information; and it is thus the vicious cycle of lack-of-sleep leading to greater-stress resulting in increased inability to attain a state-of-restorative sleep. Throughout, stress can be the invisible thread which ties the binds of cyclical ruination and self-destruction.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition has impacted one’s ability to maintain a continuity of restorative sleep, consideration in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency if one is still employed or not separated for more than thirty one (31) days, or filed directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management if separation has already occurred but one still falls within the 1-year timeframe of the Statute of Limitations, must always be an option.  Federal Disability Retirement allows for one to reach that plateau of self-restorative venues, by having the time and proper perspective to seek out effective medical treatment, not otherwise distracted by the countless demands of one’s Federal or Postal job.

Stress is the silent robber who stealthily destroys one’s health by a thousand cuts; lack of restorative sleep is the subtle, pernicious and progressively deteriorating condition which turns slowly into a crumbling foundation; and failure to act upon correcting the steady onslaught of self-decomposition will only lead one to a state of paralysis, where the shifting plate tectonics will one day reach a crisis point of collision, in the convergence of stress, anxiety, physical collapse, and self-ruination; all because we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: OWCP & Federal Disability Retirement

Whether or not one remains on Department of Labor, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (DOL/OWCP) benefits, of receiving Temporary Total Disability compensation, and for how long, should not be the determining factor as to whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  

Ultimately, the two systems of benefits and compensation are meant to address two different issues. OWCP is meant to address the issue of a Federal or Postal worker who has been injured on the job, or from an occupational disease, and thus causation is an issue with OWCP compensation and benefits.  Further, OWCP is not meant to be a retirement system — although, in more recent years, the U.S. Postal Service and some other Federal Agencies have started to use it “as if” it is a retirement system for its employees, encouraging the filing for such benefits in order to shed the agency of workers who are not “fully” productive.  

What often happens, however, when a Federal or Postal worker continues to remain on OWCP is that it become a default retirement system.  One can easily become comfortable in receiving the Temporary Total Disability payments, and indeed, because of the high rate of pay and the appearance of greater benefits because no taxes are taken out of the amount paid, one can continue to survive on such payments.  But because it is not a retirement system, the day can suddenly dawn when OWCP finds that the Federal or Postal worker is no longer entitled to such compensation.  For that reason, and sometimes for that reason alone, it is important to secure the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability: Perennial Issues

Like perennial plants, some issues continue to repeatedly crop up; once planted, they keep showing up in various question-forms.  The one which needs to be addressed, again, is the “1-year” issue:  there are actually two (2) questions which keep resurrecting themselves: A.  Filing a disability retirement application within 1 year of separation from service, and B. A medical condition which must last for a minimum of one year. 

As to the former:  The statute of limitations begins to toll when a person has been officially separated from Federal Service.  This means that the Agency must take you off of the Federal rolls.  If you continue to receive a paycheck, you are likely not separated (unless, of course, it is some form of a severance paycheck); if you receive a paycheck with “0-balances”, you are still not likely separated. If you are injured and you haven’t worked for a year, but you have not received notification that you have been separated from Federal Service, the 1-year mark has likely not begun.  On the other hand, if your SF-50 or PS Form 50 states that you are separated, then you are separated.  At that point, you have one (1) year to file your Federal Disability Retirement application. 

As to the latter (Issue “B” herein):  In most cases, it is a prospective issue.  It doesn’t mean that you must “have been” medically unable to work for a year; it doesn’t mean that you have to wait around for a year, out of work and penniless, for a year; it doesn’t mean that you must be on OWCP or on LWOP or on sick leave for a year — instead, it means that your medical condition must last for at least a year.  In other words, as is the case with most medical conditions, after a couple of months, your doctor should have an opinion — a “prognosis” — of how long your medical condition which impacts your ability to perform the essential elements of your job, will likely last, within reasonable medical certainty.  Indeed, since the Federal Disability Retirement process often takes from 8 – 10 months (from start to finish) to obtain an approval, by the end of the process, the full year will likely have occurred anyway.  In other words, you don’t need to wait around for a year to show that you can’t perform the essential elements of your job; indeed, that would be foolish. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire