Federal Disability Retirement: Dependent Contextual Information

The historical context of one’s medical condition is an issue which is mostly irrelevant for the First and Second Stages of a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS. This is because OPM is not interested — or, more accurately, the law does not recognize as relevant in analyzing the eligibility criteria applied in a Federal Disability Retirement application — of “how” or “why”.

While such contextual information may be relevant for OWCP/FECA cases because of the issue of causality and its importance in such cases, the overriding and determining factor in a Federal Disability Retirement application is whether a Federal or Postal employee has a medical condition; how that medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; and whether the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.

Outside of that contextual information (actually, such information is more accurately identified as content-information), OPM in pragmatic terms has no patience for the historical background of such information.  Obviously, however, some contextual narrative should be included in any Applicant’s Statement of disability, in order to make the statement meaningful.

One last point:  While historical context may not be relevant for the Initial Stage and the Reconsideration Stage, it may be very important if one finds oneself before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Proving with Purposive Intent

Each compensatory program, whether on a Federal, State or Local level, has an underlying basis which finds its inception in an idea, a proposal, then a statute.  The statutory authority of a “program” is the basis of its very existence.  Court opinions will interpret, expand upon, and “explain” the limits and boundaries of the program itself.

As such, each program of compensation contains a “raison d’être” (a reason for its very existence), and in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is often a good idea to understand the foundational basis of a compensation program, in order to be able to effectively attack it, comply with it, and ultimately to prove its purposive intent.

Thus, for Social Security Disability, for example, the underlying purposive intent involves a higher standard of “total disability” and how the medical condition impacts one’s daily living activities.  For the Department of Labor, Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (DOL/FECA), the underlying purposive intent involves an injury or medical condition related to the job itself, with a view towards (if at all possible) rehabilitating the Federal or Postal employee such that he or she can return to the position occupied prior to the injury.  For Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, it is the “bridge” itself which defines the purposive intent — of the impact between the medical condition and the particular job which one performs.

It is for that very reason — the purposive intent behind a Federal Disability Retirement Statute — that the compensation program allows for the Federal or Postal employee, unlike the other programs, to go out and earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, in addition to receiving the Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

By understanding, one is able to begin to formulate a strategy of applying and proving a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire