FERS Disability Retirement: Social Media Information

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it has often been reiterated and emphasized by this writer that one should prepare each and every case as if it will inevitably take all of the stages of the administrative process in order to obtain an approval from OPM.

What counter-evidence is used, to what extent, how it is used, and whether it is used, is anyone’s guess.  It is certainly unquestionably the case that OPM workers at each stage of the process are overworked; nevertheless — whether at the initial stage of review, the Second, or “Reconsideration” Stage; or the OPM Case Worker who represents the U.S. Office of Personnel Management before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board; or perhaps even beyond, to the 3-member full board of the MSPB; and even before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; regardless of which entity or bureaucratic phase, one should assume that all tools and evidentiary avenues will be utilized and investigated, and rightly so.

One such piece of evidence which should be reviewed by the applicant is the information that the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits places on any “social media” page — Facebook, a website page, etc.  For, if one is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits and claiming a specific type of medical condition, what one says on Facebook — whether true, untrue, or exaggerated, may well come back to haunt you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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