Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Termination

Termination for the Federal or Postal employee should generate an administrative personnel action reflected in an SF 50 or PS Form 50, showing the date of the action, the nature of the issuance and the reason for the administrative process which is initiated and culminated.  Without it, technically no such action occurred.  However, there are cases where such a form has not been produced.

Further, such a personnel initiation is rarely issued in a vacuum; for a Federal employee to be terminated, there are certain procedural hurdles which are normally provided — an issuance first of a proposed termination, and the basis for such a personnel action, and one to which the addressee has a right to respond to within a specified period of days or weeks.  Thereafter, consideration must be given by the Agency in the response, whether verbal, written or both, given by the Federal or Postal employee.

Subsequently, when a termination is effectuated, an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 will be generated.  From that date of termination, the Federal or Postal employee has up to one year to file for disability benefits.

If such filing occurs after 31 days of the official termination date, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

If prior to 31 days, it can be processed through one’s former agency — although, such a filing should be carefully monitored, as one’s former agency may not process it with any urgency, and in the event that it is not forwarded to OPM within the other 11 months and some-odd days left, there will be a question as to whether it was timely filed at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Ignorance and Coping

Within the complex world of information technology, modernity has reached a level of overload which few from past generations could have ever imagined. One needs only to peruse a Tom Swift novel to compare how far we have come; and even the old greats like Asimov and Bradbury could not have foreseen, in the height of their intellectual and creative powers, much of the technological gadgetry of the present age.

Then, of course, there is the “human side” of the equation of modern technology — of how individuals cope with such information overload.  Many have theorized that the exponential explosion of Major Depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and the societal impact of increased psychiatric disorders, stems from a response in terms of coping mechanisms; and we counter the response with advanced pharmaceutical admixtures.  The more common means employed to cope with the deluge of constant informational dissemination, is to limit the exposure to the volume of encounters.

Thus, the age-old adage of ignorance being a “blissful state” retains some semblance of truth.  But for those facing issues of legal limitations and filing deadlines, it is best to “be in the know”.

For Federal and Postal Workers intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the 1-year Statute of Limitations for filing applies from the time of separation from Federal Service.  Being on OWCP does not forestall or extend the 1-year rule. As such, once an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 is issued or, for Postal Workers, when those 0-balance pay stubs stop coming in the mail, it is well to be aware that the clock has begun to tick.

Ignorance can indeed be blissful, and being the gatekeeper of information overload may be a means of coping; but in the end, the inquisitiveness of Tom Swift must always prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Case Development

There are times when “waiting for a season” makes sense — as in entering a marriage relationship prior to a long engagement period for purposes of getting to better know the other person.  Or, in a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement application, waiting as the doctor wants to establish more evidence, send the patient for a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE , or to see what his or her colleague or referral “specialist” has to say before rendering an opinion — these are all valid reasons to wait before formulating and finalizing a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

There are, of course, countervailing reasons which “balance out” such sensible bases for waiting — economic rationale; the need to file in a timely manner if the Statute of Limitations is running and the 1-year mark is quickly approaching; threats by an agency to remove the Federal or Postal employee and leaving him or her with no income, no medical insurance, and little leeway for options other than to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM; but such balancing must be done with an intelligent approach, as timing at the outset in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is best accomplished in order to preclude, as much as possible, the delay of time at the “back-end” of a case, by having it summarily denied at the First Stage of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Last-Minute Application

If one fails to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (i.e., the Statute of Limitations for all Federal and Postal employees in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, is 1-year from the time of separation from Federal Service) within the time prescribed, then one cannot make any legal arguments or supplement one’s case — precisely because the Federal or Postal (former) employee has failed to meet the minimum statutory deadline.

However, once filed, the case can be supplemented and “added to”; additional evidentiary documentation may be submitted; but amendment to the Federal Disability Retirement application will be severely limited, because you cannot withdraw the application in order to change it — if the withdrawal is effectuated after the 1-year Statute of Limitations passes.  This is because the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant is restricted by the rules governing SF 3112A, where one cannot “add to” the list of diagnosed medical conditions once it is received by OPM (although there are ways to characterize such identified conditions to somewhat circumvent the restrictions).

Sometimes, because of the medical condition itself, or for unforeseen circumstances which are beyond the physical, emotional or cognitive control of the potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement, such procrastination is simply a fact which must be dealt with.  Whether the day before the 1-year cut-off, or 10 months before, once filed, at least the Federal or Postal employee will have the opportunity to make legal arguments, and for the most part, the ability to supplement his or her case.

It is only if it is NOT filed on a timely basis, that such additional activity will then be precluded.  Thus, the obvious rule:  File before the deadline.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Procrastinating within the Tolling Statute

Whether by resignation or by separation by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the tolling of the Statute of Limitations for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS begins — and the statute allows for filing for a Federal Disability Retirement application within one (1) year of such separation from Federal Service.

Exceptions to the rule of the Statute of Limitations are few, explicit, and rarely allowed, and have to do with mental incompetence, narrowly defined, hospitalization for mental illness, appointment of a guardianship which shows one’s inability to attend to one’s daily affairs, etc.  Thus, once the Federal or Postal employee is separated from Federal Service, one should count on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of such separation, and not rely upon any fantasy of being granted any extension, or excused for having had periodic or episodic medical conditions preventing one from engaging in certain acts or attending to various activities.

Procrastination is a trait of luxury unique to the human animal; because animals, whether domesticated or not, have an innate sense of urgency for purposes of survivability, the ability to project into the future and delay the necessary immediacy of a present response, is an alien characteristic.  

Such an element of artifice — procrastination — would not have any meaningful foundational purpose, a “telos“, which would make any sense; except, of course, for the human condition.  Because of the complexity of the human condition — of the technological world we have created, of multiple tasks, of time, movement and being within the context of our historicity, present world and future anticipated occurrences — procrastinating has become an artificial feature of our human condition, and indeed, almost takes on an element of need for our survivability.  But in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, procrastinating in filing for the benefit does one no good.

Meet the deadline by working on it steadily, steadfastly, and without delay.  Remember the dictum:  If you don’t file, you can’t argue anything; at least if you file on time, there is always a chance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Statute of Limitations

In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must file within one (1) year of being “separated from service”.  That is what is often referred to as the “statute of limitations” — a limit placed upon the ability of a Federal or Postal worker to file for a claim, based upon pragmatic policies of making sure that a claim is “recent” enough to allow for evidence which is neither stale nor outdated.  

There is sometimes a level of confusion as to what it means to be “separated from service”, and it often appears that such confusion arises from mixing issues with other administrative claims.  Thus, OWCP/FECA has its own sets of rules; Social Security has its own set of rules, etc.  For Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, to be “separated from service” and thus to trigger the 1-year timeframe, means that a Federal or Postal worker is terminated, taken off the rolls, and an SF 50 and PS Form 50 needs to be issued showing that a person has been effectively separated from Federal Service.  

For Postal Workers, a good indication that this action has been effectuated is when one stops received the “0”-balance paystubs.  Further, one must remember that, once separated from the Agency, after 31 days or more of such separation, any Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed directly with the Office of Personnel Management.  Filing with the Agency after the 31 day period and waiting for them to process the case, and relying upon them to forward it to OPM may result in a case simply sitting on someone’s desk…until the year has run out.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire