FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Subtraction

The principle of abundance implicates progressive and unending addition, resulting in the exponential explosion of accumulation; and in a society which preaches acquisition as the hallmark of success, the reversal of that idea — of subtraction — is anathema and constitutes a failed life.  Subtraction is to do without; and the reduction of acquisitions is considered tantamount to failure, where success is measured in terms of the quantity one possesses.

The young man begins life with little more than change in his pocket; and from there, the trajectory of what is considered a qualitative life means that there is always addition, as opposed to subtraction.  That is why it is difficult to accept stoppage, or negation, and lessening; because the normative value we accept from the beginning is tied to accumulation.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to progress in one’s career, it becomes a difficult time because sacrifices must always be made, and the negation of progressive accumulation becomes a fact of life.

But one must always look upon such events in their proper perspective, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often the first positive step.  It is the stoppage to the trajectory of decline, and allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to stabilize a chaotic situation, and to move forward with some semblance of financial security, and the hope that a new career or vocation may be entered and engaged down the road.  For, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the annuitant to earn income up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, in addition to the receipt of one’s OPM Disability Retirement annuity.

Subtraction for the Federal or Postal employee need not be forever; to live without is merely a temporary situation, and the trajectory of the modern success principle may be reinvigorated yet.

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