OPM Disability Retirement: Privacy, Social Media and Detracting Information

In the modern age of social media, where information on what previously was considered “private” details of personal and family life is widely disseminated, freely provided, and affirmatively shared, such publicly declared information can be accessed by private, public, and government entities.  

A Federal or Postal worker who is preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, should take care that publicly disseminated information does not contradict the assertions and statements made on an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  While the Office of Personnel Management does not systematically engage in researching information on an applicant displayed in the social media forum; nevertheless, it is certainly “fair game” to obtain such information.  

The problem with social media information posted and freely provided by individuals, including Federal and Postal Workers, is that there may be absolutely no connection between the reality and accuracy of the information posted, and the truth of the individual revealing and posting such information.  

Anonymity, having a different identity — acting like a different person from the true “you” is an easy thing to do on the internet.  But if a wide disparity becomes evident between what one asserts in one arena from what is stated in an official government form under penalty of perjury, there may come a day when one is asked to explain the discrepancy.  

Just a thought, for those Federal and Postal employees who are preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: FERS & SSDI Offset

This information has been concurrently posted on the “forum” concerning FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement, because it is a pending issue which may impact many (former) Federal and Postal employees who are receiving both FERS Disability Retirement benefits as well as SSDI, and impacted by the offset between the two.  

Under FERS, you must file for Social Security Disability benefits.  However, everyone should be aware of two basic (potential) problems:  (1)  There is a much lower “cap” under SSDI as to what one can earn in income and (2) There is an offset between FERS Disability annuity and SSDI (100% the first year, 60% every year thereafter).  Further, as SSDI has a higher and more restrictive standard of proof (generally, one of “total disability” as opposed to being disabled from being able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job), most Federal and Postal employees will not qualify for SSDI, and so it is not an issue.  

However, every Federal and Postal employee should be aware of the following:  If a Federal or Postal employee becomes qualified for both SSDI and FERS Disability retirement, and receives the joint annuities from both sources, and if at a later time he/she exceeds the income cap as set by SSDI and loses the SSDI benefit, one would presume/assume that since the source of the offset is lost, that OPM would reinstate the full FERS Disability annuity amount.  Not so.  There is a legal distinction being made by OPM between being “eligible” and being “entitled”, and the fact that one is no longer “eligible” does not mean that one is not “entitled”, and therefore no reinstatement of the full annuity is made.  

A couple of cases are presently be appealed to the 3-Judge panel at the MSPB, and a decision is forthcoming any day.  If favorable, good for everyone.  If not, then an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will be entertained.

Knowing what the law says is the key to proper preparation in any event, and regardless of what the outcome of the case will/may be, knowing the law will allow for all recipients of a FERS Disability Retirement annuity to adequately prepare and to act accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire