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.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer