CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Time as a Valued Commodity

At what juncture in the course of human lives the linear progression of “time” on a continuum of history became of prominence, philosophers, psychologists and historians may differ.  Certainly, animals are aware of the general importance of seasons; daylight and nightfall mark bifurcations of being alerted for purposes of seeking refuge against predators, as daytime dangers are quite different from night stalkers.

The measurement of time became ensconced with the invention of the timepiece.  When utilization of the watch, clock, digital devices, etc., established the cutting up of the world into unit measurements, it became a commodity of value because of its limited supply, and the increasing demand for greater productivity within each measured unit.  It is this ascription of “value” which one must contend with, in all aspects of modernity, in the daily living of one’s life.

For Federal and Postal employees who are seeking a quick fix — of one’s medical conditions, as well as securing the opportunity to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — complex considerations must always be weighed in an effort to “save time and money”.

If an OPM Disability Retirement application is not properly put together at the outset, it will waste valuable time in the long run, precisely because one will have to contend with a denial and a Request for Reconsideration, as well as a potential appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application can never be a “sure thing”, because it depends so much upon the evidence one must gather, in order to prove one’s case by a preponderance of the evidence.  But the saving of time will be achieved by putting the best case possible in every Federal Disability Retirement application.

The commodity of time is a recognition of its value in modern life.  It is a feature of linear human progression which simply cannot be ignored.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Government Employees: The Duration of a Medical Condition

In being eligible for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity from the Office of Personnel Management, one of the basic criteria which must be met for eligibility determination is that a medical condition, its symptomatologies and impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, must last for a minimum of 12 months.  

As a practical matter, the medical condition normally lasts for much longer, and is quite often a chronic, progressively deteriorating condition.  If the medical condition is expected to last for a short period of time, then the Federal or Postal employee must seriously consider whether filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is “worth it”, inasmuch as it often takes 8 – 10 months to obtain an approval from the Office of Personnel Management for the First Stage of the process.  

As such, for most Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, there is an implicit acknowledgement and understanding the the medical condition itself is one of chronicity, debilitating in nature, and often progressively deteriorating.  

The fact that a medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months, however, does not mean that a Federal or Postal employee should wait for the 12 months to pass before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  That would, upon reflection, be a cruel absurdity — to have to wait for 12 months, then to file and wait about 10 months before the Office of Personnel Management makes a decision, and all of this, only at the First Stage of the process. No — the legal standard is that the medical condition must be “expected” to last a minimum of 12 months; meaning, thereby, that a doctor can normally make a reasonable prognosis as to the duration, chronicity and future behavior of the medical condition; and this can normally be accomplished soon after the identification of a particular medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: The Timeline

The timeline is an extensive one.  Beyond the period from start to finish of the initial process (6 – 8 months minimum for just the First Stage of the process, assuming everything goes “right” in receiving prompt responses from the medical providers, obtaining the records; having the agency process everything in a timely manner, etc.), there is then the possibility of a glitch in the process on the part of the Office of Personnel Management.  

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management must necessarily entail an acknowledgement and recognition of being prepared for a long and arduous wait.  Then, of course, if the case is denied at the First Stage of the process, one must expect a minimum of 90 – 120 days for the Reconsideration Stage of the process; if it is denied a second time by OPM, then a minimum of 120 – 150 days at the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Further, if a Petition for Full Review is filed, it can often taken 10 months.  And an appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals?  You don’t even want to consider that…  

As such, when one is preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the operative focus should be upon the first conceptual link in the sequence — “preparing”.  The first order of business in a Federal Disability Retirement application is in mentally preparing for the long haul.  I will reiterate an oft-used quip:  Patience is a virtue; ergo, Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS must by definition be the most virtuous of people.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire