Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Line between Chaos and Order

It is a thin line.  Subject to the winds of perspectives, and often alternating between moods, stimuli encountered; adversarial confrontations may destroy the fragile order held together by sheer will power; and in the end, the appearance of calm and order is often a mere front, a determination to survive another day, when it is the boiling pot of underlying chaos which constitutes the reality of the person in need and crying out for help.

Whether it is to mask the pain of physical conditions by ingesting large quantities of prescribed medications in order to survive the day, while all the time concealing it (or simply not providing the full extent of information) for fear of being disqualified or being sent to a fitness-for-duty examination; or perhaps it is psychiatric in nature, and the fear of revelation and isolation from coworkers, supervisors, etc.  The line between order and chaos is indeed a fragile, almost imperceptibly thin one.

Some refrain from considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement precisely because, to do so would be a self-admission that the necessity of filing reflects the seriousness of that growing chaos.  But such chaos can only be contained for a period of a day, a month, perhaps several months, before it begins to manifest itself in ways that others will begin to take note.

Like the largest organ of the human body — our skin — which holds together the complexity of the human body with all of its organs, intestines and the gory details of our inner self, in order to make the human appearance presentable; likewise, the chaos within is contained by a slim margin.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a benefit which allows for that recuperative time in order to settle the chaos; for the Federal and Postal worker who treads the tightrope of a progressive medical condition which is beginning to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, it is an option which must be considered.  Otherwise, the thin line between chaos and order may be trampled upon, thereby exposing the true nature of one’s internal condition, thus revealing the reality of our lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Necessity of Filing

Sometimes the question is asked as to whether it is “necessary” to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits if certain advantages, benefits and comfort levels have already been reached.  

Therein lies the problem, of course:  that when one has secured one benefit which one relies upon and has depended upon, the necessity of filing for a collateral source in order to allow for future options, seems (at times) to be a remote necessity.  But the immediacy of a necessity should never be the primary basis for deciding whether or not to do something; forethought, securing the possibilities for future circumstances, perhaps somewhat unforeseen at the moment, should always be factors in making a decision.  

In general, it is best to allow for as many options to remain open in life, and not allow for an option to close merely because the tolling of the Statute of Limitations has passed.  Thus, if a person is on SSDI or OWCP, the question will often be presented as to whether or not filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is necessary.  The unequivocal answer is, “yes”.  

For those on SSDI (already approved), the approval itself from SSDI will have some persuasive authority in getting a FERS Disability Retirement approved.  It will not be determinative, but merely persuasive. Further, while there will be an offset between SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement, there are multiple other factors which should convince a Federal or Postal Worker that filing for FERS Disability Retirement is the intelligent thing to do.  

As for those on OWCP, while one cannot receive both OWCP and FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement benefits concurrently, the Federal or Postal employee can get it approved, and simply leave it in an inactive statute — for, as no one knows what the future holds, it is good to secure multiple benefits for potential future use.  To unnecessarily close out options to the future is never a wise thing to do.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire