Federal Disability Retirement: A Return to Basics

Every few decades, there is a “new” movement which upholds the divinity of returning to the foundational core of one’s existence:  of going back to being a farmer; living a life of an ascetic; stripping away all “unnecessary” accretions and accoutrements deemed as vestries of comfort and “bourgeois” by definition (whatever that means); or, in common parlance and language more amenable to the ordinary person, living more “simply”.

The perspective that such a “movement” is somehow “new” is of itself rather an anomaly; but then, each generation believes that they have discovered and invented the proverbial wheel, and all such past epochs were mere ages of primitive imbecility.   And, perhaps, we are once more in that familiar circle of life, and such a movement has beset the quietude of modernity, again.  As such, let us return to the basics:

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee may need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the “foundational” eligibility criteria needs to be met:  For those under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System — or the “new” system sometime around 1986 and thereafter), the Federal or Postal employee must have a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service in order to apply.  For those under CSRS, the accrual time is 5 years — and, as such, anyone under CSRS would presumably have met that basic requirement, although a CSRS employee with a long “break in service” could potentially fall short, but that would involve a unique set of circumstances rarely seen.

Further, the Federal or Postal employee who sets about to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must either be (A) a current employee (in which case he or she would file first through the agency’s Human Resource Office, then to be forwarded to OPM, (B) if not a current employee, then separated from service not more than 1 year (as the Statute of Limitations in filing for Federal Disability Retirement requires that a former Federal or Postal employee file directly with OPM within 1 year of being separated from service), (C) if separated from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, but not for more than 31 days, then to file with one’s former Agency, and (D) if separated for more than 31 days, but less than 1 year, then refer to (B) and file directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pennsylvania.

These are some of the “basics” in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  There is much, much more to the entire process, but then again, if one were to expand too far astray from the foundational core of the “back to basics” movement, one would be a hypocrite for allowing the complications of life to accrue beyond the essential elements of life — of water, food and shelter or, for the Federal and Postal employee filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the bridge between one’s position and the medical conditions one suffers from.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Benefits: The Wind-Up Man

Before the age of batteries and electronic sophisticates, there were wind-up toys.  Mere mechanical wonders involving hidden spring actions and tightly wound coils for deliberative unwinding to propel movement, they betrayed a sense of wonder for their independence once released by the child’s hand.  But the movement stopped; the unwinding of spring actions released to their full extent; and further human involvement was necessary.

In stage plays of yore, what amounts to a “deus ex machina” required intervention; and so the thumb and forefinger would grasp the flat key inserted in the back of the toy, and wind it up all over again.  Many of us feel a kinship to such a descriptive process; the “winding up” may involve an unseen hand, but the rest feels eerily similar.

Medical conditions tend to magnify such a state of feeling; for, like the wind-up toy of childhood joys, the need for an intervening hand is required of both.  But for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who needs to go home for that restorative sleep, or that 3-day weekend in order to regain a semblance of stamina for the week ahead, whatever winding up process may occur, is never enough.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, often find that — as each time the “winding up” process takes place, it becomes less and less effective, and more and more necessary to keep going back to the source of intervention — and so the vicious cycle ensues.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset, is never the “total solution” to one’s medical problems; but, at the very least, it allows for one to reach that plateau of restorative rest, in order to recuperate.  As the wind-up toy must come to the end of its uncoiling mechanical actions, so the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer continue in the same manner, must consider options available to him or her, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is certainly an alternative to consider.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire