OWCP & FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees

Can both be approved concurrently?  Is there any disadvantage in filing for one “as opposed” to another?  Do they “cross over” and impact one another?  Can you receive payments concurrently, or must you choose one over the other and, if one is chosen, does it “negate” or otherwise dismiss the other?

These are all practical questions which can come about if an injury or illness results from a workplace incident or caused by an occupational hazard.  First and foremost, it should be noted that the two “pockets” of compensatory resources are different in nature: OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM Disability Retirement is. OWCP is a compensatory resource created and established as a temporary measure (although there are many, many cases where an OWCP recipient stays on and receives compensation for decades and beyond) — as a means of allowing the Federal worker to receive treatment, recuperation and rehabilitation, with a view towards an eventual return to work.

The paradigm of a FERS Federal Disability Retirement, on the other hand, is just that: It is a retirement system — essentially, starting your retirement “early” because of a medical condition or injury resulting in one’s loss of capacity to continue to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  The latter (FERS Disability Retirement) does not have to possess any causal connection to the employment itself — in other words, the medical condition or injury does not have to be “occupationally related” in order for a Federal or Postal worker to become eligible for its benefits.

Remember, however, that under a FERS Disability Retirement, a Federal or Postal worker must file for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of being separated from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  The fact that a person has been “placed on the rolls of OWCP” does not excuse the 1-year rule for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For further information on the intersection between OWCP and FERS Disability Retirement, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both, and make your decision upon factual and legal information, and not from such sources as, “I heard from Joe that…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Injured Federal & Postal Employees: “What should I be doing?”

It is a query that applies to so many aspects of a successful life; of an endeavor or a pursuit; of preparing the steps in order to attain a level of perfection.  Curiosity and the desire to improve are the ingredients of success; the lack of either or both will often leave one behind as others progress.

The runner who wants to shave off a fraction of a second; the “expert” in a given field who desires to comprehend the next level of complexity; the business owner who strives to avoid the fickle nature of a purchasing public in order to expand; they all begin with the question, “What should I be doing?”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the question concerning preparing an effective Federal Employee OPM Disability Retirement application may have already entered into the fray.

The question following when that arrival point comes near is: “What should I be doing?”  The answer: Consult with an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  For, in the end, that very question will lead to building the proper foundation for a successful outcome in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, and it is those preparatory steps which will often make all the difference between success or failure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for FERS Employees: Incompatibility

The proof that must be shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, is that the Federal or Postal worker has a deficiency with respect to performance, conduct or attendance, or in the absence of any actual service deficiency, a showing that the medical condition is incompatible with either useful service or retention in the position held.

In recent months, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has been ignoring the part about the “incompatibility” provision, and instead has been unfairly focusing upon whether or not a supervisor has deemed an individual’s past performance as having shown any deficiencies in performance, attendance or conduct.

The system of “performance reviews” favors passing most employees through without any deficiencies, and the reason for this is that it is often too much of a headache to give an employee a “less than fully successful” rating, lest there be grievances filed and appeals noted, creating a greater workload for the supervising authorities.

But even when there are noted and substantiated deficiencies in one’s performance, conduct or attendance, OPM will often dismiss such deficiencies as not being supported by the medical documentation, anyway, and so the basis for a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is often a compendium of circular arguments posited by OPM without any adherence to the law or acknowledgment of the facts.

More cases appear to be denied by OPM in recent months; ignoring the law and asserting unfounded reasons for such denials, and so it is important to fight against the trend that seems to be asserted by OPM: Ignoring well-established precedents in law and ignoring the facts by selectively extrapolating what OPM wants to focus upon.

If you have been denied, or want to put forth the best First-Stage OPM Disability Retirement application possible, contact an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire