Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Shifting Paradigms

Inquiries concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether a Federal or Postal worker is eligible, the eligibility criteria which is applied; the process itself; questions concerning the lengthiness of the process; leave issues; agency actions pending or already initiated; these are all legitimate questions which should be asked and answered.  

In approaching Federal Disability Retirement issues, however, and inquiring about the potential benefits and resolution of issues, often the Federal or Postal employee begins with a paradigm of understanding, and it is often difficult for the inquiring Federal or Postal employee to “shift off” of the original paradigm in order to understand the paradigm which forms the basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Whether it is because the information previously gathered is about the Office of Worker’s Compensation, Department of Labor benefits; or whether it is the confusion of having to file, at some point in the process, for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits; or, as more often than not, the underlying reason is based upon mis-information gathered and received from other sources which are inherently unreliable, it often takes several different answers to the same question before a paradigm shift occurs.  

The best way to approach Federal Disability Retirement questions is to first engage in some initial research.  Get on various websites which discuss the issues.  Read some of the reader’s comments and input.  Compare the information with other information from multiple sources.  Then, begin to formulate and construct a “paradigm” of facts, and make the telephone call to the source which provides the most reliable information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Clarifying Misconceptions

Information is interesting.  But not all interesting information is useful.  And, further, not all information, even if interesting and (potentially) useful, is accurate.  Ultimately, in order for information to be of practical use, it must be accurate, useful, and purpose-related.  Thus, when inaccurate (partial or complete) information is placed into the public domain, it often becomes useless, but remains interesting to the extent that people continue to rely upon such information.

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is important to obtain, process, and apply useful and accurate information.  Two sets of basic information need to be clarified:  First, many Postal and Federal employees have been confused about SSDI and its impact upon Federal Disability Retirement and the application process in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS (CSRS exempted because an SSDI receipt is not necessary).  Showing a receipt for having filed an SSDI application is all that is needed.  An approval is not necessary; and, indeed, for most Federal and Postal employees, one will not ordinarily qualify for SSDI precisely because it has a higher standard to be eligible.

Further, a sequential showing is NOT necessary — i.e., one does not have to first file for SSDI in order to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits.  All that is necessary, from OPM’s perspective, is that at the time of an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, a Federal or Postal employee must show a receipt showing that one has filed for SSDI benefits.

The Second informational error to be corrected:  While somewhat redundant based upon the first, a Federal or Postal employee does NOT have to be approved for SSDI in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.  That would be pointless and illogical, if one stops and thinks about it.  Again, all that is necessary is that one files, and one shows a receipt at the time of an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS.

Yes, this is the information age; but it still comes down to a human being who places the information into the public domain, and the

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Consequence of Confusion

Often, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, there are “indicators” which are telltale signs as to whether or not something was done or not.  Federal and Postal workers who call in to inquire about the feasibility of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS are often vague about certain facts and issues, and understandably so, because things have never been explained properly, or as is more often the case, explained but with mistaken information.  For example:  Federal and Postal workers often confuse OWCP & Department of Labor issues, with issues concerning OPM Disability Retirement.  Such statements as:  “I already filed for Department of Labor disability benefits”, or “I filed a CA ___”, or “I’ve been separated for X number of months” (when in fact he or she has merely been on LWOP with the Agency).  

The problem with confusing the concepts between OWCP benefits and OPM Disability Retirement (and to make it even more confusing, to mix those two with SSDI issues) is that a person may be on OWCP or SSDI for over a year after being separated from Federal Service, and fail to file for OPM Disability Retirement — and forever be foreclosed from doing so because he or she never realized that you must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, independently and separately from OWCP or SSDI.  Read up and study the conceptual distinctions; for, there may be some long-term consequences from such confusions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Information v. Essentials

There is a tendency to want to “reveal all“, as if not revealing every aspect of a narrative is somehow misleading, untruthful, or deceptive.  But there is a distinction to be made between information, whether it is background information or information pertaining to relevant facts and circumstances, as opposed to the essential core of a narrative.  

As the Office of Personnel Management attempts to reduce the backlog of Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS or CSRS, it becomes more and more important for each application to be submitted in a streamlined, “only the pertinent facts” type of submissions.  This is not to say that all “relevant” facts must be distinguished from documents and submissions which provide for contextual understanding of a case.  Rather, the days when volumes of medical documentation of all treatment notes, test results, etc., without a guiding cover letter, may do more harm than good.  

In this day and age when there is so much information on the internet (much of which is irrelevant and meandering), it is good to keep in mind the conceptual distinction between that which is merely informational, and that which is essential.  For Federal and Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, make sure that you are focusing upon the essentials, and not merely providing information without context and relevance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: What Others Said

Often, during a consultation with a Federal or Postal employee, the issue comes up about what “X said” about “Y-issue”.  Information is plentiful, and especially in this age of the internet, the plethora of information, abundant in volume and scope, can seemingly provide the generic and universally appreciated mass of unidentifiable vacuity called, “Information“.

The problem is no longer the lack of information; rather, the problem is to be able to discern the difference between “useful information”, “relevant information,” “effective information,” and “peripheral information”.  In preparing, formulating, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make the distinctions.  However, in this world of unlimited sources of information, a person who first approaches a subject — especially a subject involving legal consequences such as Federal Disability Retirement law — may have a difficult time in distinguishing between the various “types” of information.  

Further, it is important to recognize the “source” of information — Who said it?  Where did it come from?  Is there statutory authority to back it up?  Is the source reliable?  These latter questions must also be asked, and the way to determine the credibility and reliability of information is often to take some time and cross-check information from various sources, and decipher as to whether a particular source provides a consistency of information which can be trusted.  When it comes to preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, where one’s future may depend upon the information gathered, the Federal or Postal employee would be wise to “check out the source” before proceeding forth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Repetitive Reminder

Remember that a FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement application must be filed within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.  For some odd reason, there is still some prevailing misconception that the 1-year Statute of Limitations begins from either (a) the date of the onset of an injury, (b) from the date one goes out on LWOP, Sick Leave, or some other administrative leave, or (c) from the date that one is no longer able to perform the essential elements of one’s job — or (d) some combination of the three previous dates.

Whether from confusion, misinformation from the Agency, misinterpretation of what information is “out there” or some combination of all three, the Statute of Limitations in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is one (1) year from the date that a Federal or Postal employee is separated from his or her agency, or from the Postal Service.  Inasmuch as a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRs will often taken 6 – 8 months (minimum) to get a decision from the First Stage of the process, it is a good idea to get started earlier, rather than later.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Information

Information is plentiful in this age of technology and the Internet.  But always remember that information is distinctly different from knowledge and truth.  A plethora of information does not necessarily constitute true, verifiable, useful, or accurate knowledge.  With all of the information “out there”, how does one verify the information?  

Further, with respect to filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, how does one discern correct and accurate information from information which, if used or relied upon, can actually result in a detriment?  One way is to spend some time reading and sifting through various sources of information; comparing the information; and further, seeing whether one can discover the underlying motivation or purpose of the source of the information.  Further, in seeking legal advice in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, remember that you must ultimately make the determination as to competency,reliability, and capabilities.  Obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an important step in one’s life; finding the right information, and the right source of information, is an important first step in the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Be Discerning

In many ways, there is too much information “out there” about anything and everything.  The area of Federal Disability Retirement Law under FERS & CSRS is no different (and, admittedly, the irony is that I may be adding to the compendium of information with my incessant blogs, articles, reflections, etc.).  The real problem, however, is not necessarily the quantity of information, but rather the quality — and for Federal and Postal employees who are attempting to understand all of the issues surrounding Federal Disability Retirement, it is often difficult to categorize and separate and distinguish between “good” information and “bad” information.  For instance, there is the local/district Human Resources personnel for an employee’s Agency.  Agency H.R. offices are made up of “people” — both good and bad, both competent and incompetent; both helpful and downright ornery.  Then, there is the Office of Personnel Management.  There are multiple internet sites, blogs, a plethora of lawyers (though, there are not that many lawyers who are versed in the area of Federal Disability Law).  The bottom-line issue is not one of “quantity” of information, but how to discern between “good” information and “bad” information.  Too often, a person will call me and tell me that “so-and-so told me that X occurs when you file for Federal Disability Retirement — is that true?”  My response is of a standard nature:  I do not sit and argue or contradict some third person whom I have never met, and against a statement which may have been taken out of context.  Instead, I ask my caller, potential clients, and anyone and everyone who reads my writings, to look at the substance of what I write and say; review the consistency of what I have written, and make your own judgment:  Discern well by checking out the facts, and seeing if what others have said about me, or what I have said, rings true.  Be discerning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire