Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Choosing from the Options

The self-evident approach to making a right choice is to first understand what one’s choices are comprised of; yet, for many, this necessary first step is never taken, and so the option taken is based upon the choices presented, and not upon the greater universe of alternatives available.  If the parent asks the child in an ice cream store, “Do you want chocolate or vanilla?”, the unsuspecting child will choose from the options presented — until the child observes the one standing in front, who has just received another flavor.  “How about that one?” is the natural next query.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is a universe of options which present themselves in concentric circles of choices within options within alternatives — but in order to make any positive steps towards accepting any of them, one must first be aware of them.

Thus, whether the agency moves forward to remove a Federal or Postal employee based upon reason X, may not be the only option if you don’t know that there may be an alternative option for removal, or to negotiate a delay of the option itself; whether OWCP/FECA, or Federal Disability Retirement, SSDI or VA benefits, or a combination of some or all to be approved; whether the basis should be medical condition A, B & C, or E, F & G, or a combination of some of each category; all such options need to be reviewed and the universe of alternatives explored, until the crucial decision is made of picking one over another.

Wisdom first begins with exploring the explorable universe; if one believes that one’s crib is the only universe in existence, then that will be the one which defines the confinement of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Different Pockets

There is often a confusion over different pockets and their intersecting relations — of SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance with the Social Security Administration); OWCP administered under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (OWCP/FECA); Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, as approved or denied by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and, in addition, there are those who are eligible for VA Disability benefits, for a Scheduled Award from OWCP, and complications which can occur with private disability insurance policies.

The general rule with respect to each can be summarized as follows:  Offset between FERS & SSDI (100% the first year, 60% every year thereafter); one can get approved concurrently for OWCP/FECA, but the Federal or Postal employee must choose to receive from one or the other, and not both; the Federal or Postal employee can receive a scheduled award while at the same time receiving a FERS Disability Retirement annuity, because a Scheduled Award is considered compensation for a rated injury, as opposed to continuation of one’s pay; there is no offset between FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement benefits and VA Disability benefits; private disability policies depend upon the contractual language of the policy itself, and must be reviewed individually as to any provisions of offset or dollar-for-dollar reduction of benefits based upon receipt of any other benefit.

These are the general criteria concerning the intersecting impact of each upon the other.  In the end, reaching into different pockets will normally result in an increase, and rarely (if ever) a decrease of benefits, even with offsets.  However, overreaching, as the case may be, can result in unintended consequences of overpayment and required repayment.  Be aware and informed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Clarification of Options

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often necessary to perform a methodological analysis similar to a “risk-benefits” evaluation before proceeding down the path in attempting to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The risks versus benefits analysis should already have been performed:  the necessity of filing because of one’s medical conditions should have answered any such issues arising from such a concern.  The “other” analytical approach, however, often revolves around the ever-prevalent and uniquely human ability to endlessly ruminate:  the “What if” syndrome.  What if I don’t get the disability retirement?  What if my agency terminates me before I get approved?  What if…

Such questions, while important to consider, should be first preceded by the overarching “what-if” question of all, which generally answers all subsequent similar questions:  “What if I don’t file?”  Presumably, one comes to a point in deciding to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition which has progressively or suddenly come to a point where it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Given that, the options to be clarified are quite simple:  If one does not file, then one will either have to continue working in the same or similar capacity; or one can resign and walk away, perhaps with a deferred retirement at age 65.  Are any of those options truly viable?  Ergo, many — if not all — of the other “what if” questions resolve themselves by first clarifying the penultimate what-if question.

Sequential clarification of one’s options is an important step in the reflective process of decision-making; take the time to consider the options; clarify the options; then, when the decision to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefitsbecomes a matter of necessity, move forward with the view that one will be approved precisely because the facts prove the case, without engaging in the self-defeating, very-human endeavor of self-doubt and questioning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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