USPS & OPM Federal Employee Disability Retirement: One of Those Days

There are “those days”, so characterized because of the micro-calamities which, in their cumulative impact, disproportionately reveal a compendium of aggregated irritants amounting in totality to a forgetful epoch of one’s life.

By contrast, a medical condition of an insidious nature, progressively deteriorating, chronic in persistence and debilitating in severity, magnifies tenfold — nay, a hundred, a thousand, a ten-thousand-fold impact of exponential consequences — the remembrances of pain, psychiatric turmoil, and the bitter acknowledgment that life’s meaningful embrace has lost its luster.

The vibrancy of youth, of formidable tolerance for reckless antics and disregard of forbearance and calm rectitude of reasoned behavior, now replaced with caution and trepidation, lest the excruciating pain explodes unmanageably and coworkers can see that you are one of the ones who are now an “outsider”, like those of old, isolated, quarantined and banished to the leper colony, no longer extolled of the talents and virtues once possessed.

While microcosmic calamities can be shrugged off with an excuse of blaming some external circumstances, the problem with medical conditions is that it is tied singularly, inextricably, and undeniably, to the person “possessing” the medical condition; and like siamese twins who share a vital organ, one cannot extricate from the consequences of a medical condition as one can from a spilled cup of coffee.

For the Federal worker or Postal employee who suffers from a health condition, such that the medical condition constitutes a daily cup of spilled coffee, the choices are quite clear: remain in the same capacity and bear the brunt of the daily calamities; resign and walk away with little to nothing to show for one’s lifetime efforts; or the more viable option, to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

One can sit and sigh, and resign one’s self to accepting fate as characterized as “one of those days”; or fate can be controlled, maneuvered and manipulated, to where those days of calamitous casuistry can be relegated to forgettable events of days bygone, and where the Federal or Postal employee can begin to rebuild a future based upon an OPM Disability Retirement annuity which allows for a base annuity, along with the potential to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

Thus, just as a cup of coffee spilled can be cleaned up; so the hallmark of “one of those days” can be merely an isolated event in an otherwise greater spectrum of life’s potentialities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Part-time Work

Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, face a formidable task both in terms of legal hurdles and administrative, bureaucratic glitches — not the least of which is in facing the daily battle with the medical condition itself.

Aside from requesting an accommodation from the agency, then being granted some cosmetic work refinements which probably do not constitute a legally viable (or even practically defensible) responsiveness; or of being offered an alternative part-time position which, if taken, will have dire calculation consequences in determining the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service for annuity computation purposes; or more to the point — remaining in the full-time position but working only part-time and taking LWOP the remainder of the time, such decisions can be pragmatic ones which may be arrived at by the Federal Disability Retirement applicant as merely a choice which cannot be avoided, but one which should be embraced with full knowledge of the consequences.

For example, the problem with working one day a week is that such work constitutes only 20% of pay for the Federal or Postal employee who has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Yet, at the time of an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM will pay back-pay for the first year of annuity, at 60%.  But if one has been working part-time during the entire process, no back-pay will be forthcoming precisely because such back-pay is paid only to the “last day of pay” — which would have been the previous week for that part-timer.

Further, the difference between what was part-time work-paid (20%) and what Federal Disability Retirement back-pay will give (60% for the first year) is one of 40% lost forever.

In practical terms, it may well be that working part-time throughout the Federal Disability Retirement process and the long bureaucratic wait was a necessity which could not be avoided; but it is nevertheless something which should be done with full disclosure and knowledge, so that there are no surprises in the end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: LWOP & Back Pay

In obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement benefit under FERS or CSRS, once an approval is obtained from the Office of Personnel Management, back pay is supposed to go back to the “last day of pay” that the Federal or Postal employee received from the Agency.  Thus, when a Federal or Postal employee files for FERS Disability Retirement benefits (or the same benefits under CSRS, which is become rarer by the minute), one must plan in order to accrue and obtain the maximum benefits possible.

Should one accept donated leave?  Should one exhaust the large cache of sick leave accrued? Should one go on LWOP part of the time, and take sick leave part of the time?  These are all issues which should be planned for, and if one does not know what the rules, regulations and statutes are governing such issues, one can literally lose out on critical back pay benefits.

For example, since back pay will be paid at the initial year’s 60% rate (60% for the first year in Federal Disability Retirement benefits; 40% every year thereafter), if an individual is receiving donated leave on average, about 15 – 20 hours per week (which constitutes 50% or less), wouldn’t it be wiser to stay on LWOP throughout the process?

On the other hand, pragmatic economic considerations must always temper such decisions.  If a Federal or Postal employee needs the income, even at 50% or less, then such considerations must be taken into account.  Regardless, one should prepare, and go forward with open eyes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire