Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Suspect

Newspaper stories are replete with articles involving scams, dishonesty and crimes of financial improprieties; that is not surprising, given the nature of what constitutes “newsworthiness”.  Fraudulent claims involving disability applications are trumpeted loudly to reveal the disintegration of a system requiring structural integrity.  Of course, no one makes the distinction that such claims of fraud almost always involves the “other” disability system, and not the option available to Federal and Postal employees through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Just as all politicians are lumped together, so the aggregation and broad-painted brushing of anyone receiving a “disability” annuity is to be expected.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a different animal from the “other” disability system, and with good cause:

First, Federal and Postal employees do not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits until and unless it becomes a necessary option to take.  The general public cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, they complain that Federal and Postal employees have it “easy” with their Federal or Postal jobs; on the other hand, they grumble that receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits is taken advantage of by unscrupulous Federal and Postal employees. But if the employment itself is so easy, why would the Federal or Postal Worker take a lesser income by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  The fact is that most Federal and Postal employees work hard, and well beyond their rate of compensation, in furthering the mission of their agency or department; and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the furthest thing from the mindset of a Federal or Postal employee.

Second, because of the reduction of income accorded by an approved Federal Disability Retirement, many Federal and Postal employees must go out and seek employment in the private sector.  Yes, they can continue to receive the disability annuity so long as they remain under 80% of what the former Federal or Postal position currently pays; and yes, the combination of both the annuity and the employment income can aggregately comprise more than what the former Federal or Postal position was paying; but that is the very attractiveness and intelligence of the incentivized system. It encourages the Federal and Postal Worker to remain productive, and to “pay back” into the system. In essence, it is a self-paying enterprise.

And, Third, because Federal Disability Retirement recognizes that the disability is tied to a particular kind of job, there is very little room for abuse within the system.  One is encouraged to remain productive, and such an incentive allows for the system to remain economically viable.

In these difficult economic times, people are often afraid of considering filing for “disability” benefits; but for Federal and Postal employees who have given their time, life and (often) health in the pursuance of an agency’s mission, being treated like a “suspect” in a broadly-painted indictment is not only unfair, but reprehensible.  The Federal and Postal Worker has nothing to be ashamed about, and the fact that the general public may harbor some hidden resentments during these trying economic times, is merely a reflection upon the often petty nature of humanity, and not a true gauge of the work ethic of Federal and Postal employees throughout the country.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: These Economic Times

Do outside influences other than “the law” impact upon benefits applied for?  Depending upon what particular perspective one has, the human animal can be characterized as either extremely simple, or supremely complex.  In comparison to other animals, one needs to only look at the vast civilization of architectural magnificence, artistic beauty, and acts of compassion and empathy, to arrive at the latter conclusion.  But human nature often overrules the complex beauty of such accomplishments, leaving one with the unmistakeable conclusion of the former.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one must proceed and assume such an application based upon the legal criteria as applied, and expect a fair and impartial review based upon the statutory implementation of such rules and regulations.

But in these economic times…   Does the Federal Government want to limit the number of applicants approved (the unspoken “quota” argument)?  Is there an underlying motive other than medical reasons, as to why the Federal or Postal employee is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (OPM’s suspicions)?  Do “unofficial policies from on high” ever apply?

Such questions and concerns are often asked, but ultimately they are irrelevancies.  For, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, one must move forward regardless, and put together the best case possible, based upon the evidence one has.

Any other approach, or becoming unduly concerned with collateral issues, will only detract and distract from the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Impact of the Economy

In making a decision impacting Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, multiple factors must be deliberated upon.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a serious step.  

One of the pragmatic advantages involves the factor that, in addition to receiving a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the Federal or Postal Worker may make earned income up to 80% of what one’s former Federal position currently pays.  This is an important consideration to take into account, given the fact that FERS Disability Retirement pays 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year, then 40% every year thereafter.  

In a seemingly entrenched recession with an anemic recovery, the Federal or Postal worker may pause in considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. However, it is important to recognize the necessity of the present, while keeping an eye to the future in making such a decision.

Normally, it is the medical condition itself which dictates the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  This is not an “optional” circumstance, where one may consider filing or not filing.  The only “option” (if there is one) involves whether one can continue to drudge through the pain, anxiety, panic attacks, or other medical episodes, for a few months longer, and therefore delay the initiation of the process.  But this only delays the inevitable.  

Thus, the first order of business must always be to take the time to attend to one’s health and medical condition.  

The economy will always be “what it is”, and will trudge along and recover. When that moment comes, the Federal or Postal employee who has already filed for, and obtained, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS will have the time to carefully select his or her second career path, because of the financial security of Federal Disability Retirement benefits already received.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: A Thoughtful Paradigm

Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is a well-thought out paradigm of benefits for two primary reasons:  (1)  First, because it allows for a base annuity for those productive workers who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, and allows the Federal or Postal Worker who is disabled to have a period of time in which to recuperate and tend to the medical needs in order to regain his or her strength, energy, abilities, etc. — physical, emotional, cognitive or otherwise; and (2) Second, because it allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to become a productive member of society in a different, “other” job.  

While many may be concerned that, in this regressive economy, the prospect of obtaining another job may be severely limited, such an approach is short-sighted.  The economy will rebound; opportunities will arise as various economic sectors adjust to changing circumstances; and during the entire process, the Federal or Postal Worker who is on Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management will be able to receive a base annuity in order to recuperate from the medical condition.  

All said, the alternative prior to the Federal Disability Retirement benefit becoming law was bleak and short-sighted:  to terminate the unproductive Federal or Postal employee, and let him or her go out to deal with loss of job, loss of income, loss of medical insurance — on top of the medical condition which forced the Federal or Postal Worker out in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Freedom of Retirement

In this tough economy, many people are rightly concerned that, upon an approval for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, that it will be difficult to “make up” the income with another job, even though a person under Federal Disability Retirement can earn up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.  Yes, it can be tough; yes, the economy is a concern; but recessions ultimately come to an end, and while a job to make up the severe pay-cut may be long in coming, self-employment, to begin a start-up business, or to work part-time is often an excellent opportunity.  Unlike having the larger percentage of pay under OWCP-DOL benefits, a disability retirement annuity under FERS or CSRS is indeed a greater pay-cut.  But salary is not everything; the freedom of retirement, the ability to determine one’s future, and not be under the constant and close scrutiny of Worker’s Comp, accounts for much.  Where some see a severe pay-cut, others see as an opportunity to begin a second career.  And the price of freedom from those onerous fiefdoms of federal agencies is often better health, and greater enjoyment of one’s freedom and retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement in a Tough Economy

Healthy individuals may wonder why, in such a tough economy, an individual would consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS.  This is an economy which has been shrinking and shedding employees.  Yet, for the Federal or Postal employee whose health and increasingly debilitating medical conditions directly impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the choice is actually not all that convoluted. 

Where a Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform the job; where sick leave and annual leave have been exhausted to go to doctors’ appointments, or just to stay home to recover enough to make it into the office for another day; or for those who are on LWOP for greater than the time working; in such circumstances, the stark reality is that a disability annuity is better than what the future may offer otherwise.  Removal for unsatisfactory performance; being placed on a PIP; being told that there is no more work at the Postal Service; being counseled for performance issues; these are all indicators of the proper choice to make.

Yes, it is a tougher economy; but when the economy begins to rebound, the first people that private employers turn to hire are those who are essentially independent contractors; and, especially with the looming overhaul of private health insurance, a former government worker who carries his or her own health insurance is, and can be, an attractive worker to a private employer.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire