Tag Archives: federal employees using short-term medical benefits for long-term medical retirement

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Moving beyond the Stagnant Waters of OWCP

“Is it possible…” is an impossible question to answer.  For, the conceptual distinction between that which is possible, as opposed to probable, is one which reveals the chasm between the world of fantasy and one of reality.  The world of the “possible” is unconstrained and unbounded; the world of probable occurrences may be fenced in by statistical constructs, actual circumstances, and real-world experiences.

While it is possible to stay on OWCP for a long duration, it is also probable that OWCP will cut off one’s benefits at some future, undetermined and unexpected time.  

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who is on, has been on, or even is contemplating filing for, OWCP/FECA benefits because of a work-related injury, the benefit itself is attractive enough to remain on the rolls of OWCP until such time as (A) the Federal or Postal employee can return back to work, (B) the Federal or Postal Worker is deemed recovered, and the OWCP benefits are cut off, or (C) the Federal or Postal Worker decides to “move on” in life.

The first two choices are essentially out of the arena of “control” of the Federal or Postal employee, for one cannot determine or expedite the recovery period of a medical condition, and further, only the doctor (or its surrogate, the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) can determine whether or not the Federal or Postal work is now recovered.  

As for the last choice, however, it is the Federal or Postal worker who can make the determination — especially if one has already gotten an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on one’s Federal OPM Disability Retirement application.

OWCP is not a retirement system; one cannot work at another job while on OWCP; one must sit and do what the OWCP case worker tells you to do.  It is only with Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, that one can actually engage in another, alternative vocation or career, and begin to move on in life, and become released from the stagnant waters of a constraining medical condition — or that of OWCP.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


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.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire