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

OPM Disability Retirement: Life Changes

Major life changes occur at some point for everyone —  new births; deaths; marriage; major illnesses.  The trauma of a life-changing event such as a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is further exacerbated because of the financial impact that such a life-event can have upon a Federal or Postal employee.

While Federal Disability Retirement benefits do not fully make up for the loss of income (for FERS employees, it pays 60 percent of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years the first year, and 40% every year thereafter until age 62, at which point it gets converted and recalculated to regular retirement; while the Federal disability retirement calculation for CSRS employees is slightly more complex), it is at the very least a point of security — a base amount of income in which one can rely upon.

This is important, because with a major life-changing event, it is essential to focus one’s energies upon resolving, attacking, or otherwise handling that life-event, and not have the worries or distractions which take one’s energies away from focusing upon the one life-changing event.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire