Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Unresponsive Agency

The complaints abound, and continue to exponentially increase; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is way behind on its evaluation, review and decision-making process for all characters of retirements, disability retirements included.

It is a given that filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must necessarily have an expectation of a time-consuming administrative process, precisely because of the encounter with a Federal bureaucracy.  But it seems that each year — nay, each month and week — the delays continue to expand.

At each step of the way, OPM has become more and more unresponsive, and with new cases coming in, the length of time at every stage, and “between” stages, has been extended.  The process itself contains inherent milestones of delay: from filing the entire disability retirement application to a facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which merely annotates the receipt of the case and inputs the case into the computer system; to thereafter sending the disability retirement application, with all of its evidentiary submissions and attachments down to Washington, D.C., where it must first await assignment to a caseworker; then, upon assignment, for the caseworker to even get to the applicant’s submission for review and evaluation.  Then, of course, there is the possibility that the entire packet will be selected to be sent out for review by a contract doctor.

The delays are beyond the control of the applicant, his or her OPM Disability attorney, or the agency for whom the applicant worked.  It is, ultimately, an administrative process which can be tedious, time-consuming, and fraught with delays and extended periods of silence.

Patience may well be a virtue, but the unresponsive manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has handled the delays, fails to engender much confidence in a system which should be most responsive to those in greater need.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

Once the decision has been made to prepare, formulate, and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal Worker will often want to “time” the event of filing with the agency.

While this is certainly “do-able”, one must take into account that there is very little control, if any, as to the ultimate timing event:  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is backlogged at every stage of the process — at the intake point in Boyers, Pennsylvania; in assigning a Case Worker to begin “handling” the claim (whatever that may mean); to actually reviewing, analyzing and evaluating the submitted Federal Disability Retirement packet; to making an actual decision, rendering the decision, and mailing out the decision-letter itself.

Thus, whether for personal or professional reasons — some (or most) Federal Workers are so dedicated as to have a desire to complete projects, make sure that certain responsibilities are delegated properly, etc. —  it is perfectly acceptable for Federal Disability Retirement packets which are prepared and ready to be filed, to be temporarily held or suspended for a timing reason, so long as medical reports and records do not become stale.

Further, in some cases it may take a period of months in order to develop the case fully, where the treating physician may need to order additional tests, try other palliative means of treatment, etc.

Whatever the reasons may be, there is nothing wrong with attempting to “time” the submission with the agency, so long as the Federal or Postal Worker understands that there is no such thing as timing the event with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire