Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Other 12-month Confusion

The other issue which may involve a 12-month period — aside from the Statute of Limitations, which allows a Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service — is the duration of one’s medical condition.

Federal and Postal employees will often confuse the issue, and believe in error that they must suffer through a minimum period of 12 months before they can even begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. This is an error either in the proper interpretation of the law, or through receipt of misguided information from third parties.  The law simply requires that a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, have a medical condition which will impact him or her for a period of at least 12 months.

Practically speaking this would make sense.  For, since the bureaucratic process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management takes a minimum of 8 – 10 months for the entire process anyway, it would make no sense to have a medical condition which will be “cured” within that time frame, for a Federal or Postal employee to file in the first place.

The minimum requirement of the 12-month period can be easily addressed in the “prognosis” portion of a doctor’s statement.  Most doctors can prognosticate within a couple of months of beginning treatment, concerning the long-term duration of a medical condition; whether it is chronic, lasting, or likely permanent.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, knowledge equals the ability to overcome obstacles, and knowing the law will allow the Federal and Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits to possess the necessary tools to effectively manage his or her life and future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Qualifying

The concept of “qualifying” is both peculiar as well as interesting; for, one questions whether one can “qualify” for a sports event (often, this encompasses issues of age, physical ability, whether gender may disqualify you, etc.); and then there are “qualifying events”, where you must pass certain levels of “test” activities in order to get to the next round, as in golfing events.  In racing events, there is always talk about getting through the “qualifying” stages; and, similarly, in attempting to secure a job, the applicant is often questioned as to whether he or she has the “qualifications” for the position.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is also the initial question of whether a Federal or Postal worker “qualifies” for the benefit identified as “Federal Disability Retirement”. Here again, to “qualify” means that a Federal or Postal worker meets certain requirements. Thus, there are automatic dis-qualifiers, such as: If you are not a Federal or Postal worker, but work for the county or state, then you do not qualify for benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Federal system. Similarly, if a FERS individual does not have at least 18 months of Federal Service, or a CSRS Federal employee does not have at least 5 years of Federal Service (which is obviously unlikely), then you cannot “qualify” to even apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Those are immediate qualifying “events”.  Then, of course, the main event — the tournament of all competitive activities for Federal Disability Retirement purposes — concerns whether or not a Federal or Postal Worker qualifies for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of his or her medical condition.  This foundational qualification can only be answered by looking at the medical condition, the support of the treating doctor, and whether and to what extent the medical condition impacts one’s physical or psychological ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

For that main event, one must rise to the level akin to the professional athlete.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Compounding Medical Condition

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the concern often revolves around the compounding effect of a medical condition, when a Federal or Postal employee continues to persevere in performing duties which clearly exacerbate and exponentially magnify the originating medical condition and the manifesting symptomatologies.

Whether as secondary depressive symptoms, or as increasing anxiety, uncontrollable panic attacks; chest pains; radiculopathy; sedation which occurs from medication or lack of sleep over weeks and weeks, resulting in profound and overwhelming fatigue; the problems of unmitigated and unaccommodated medical conditions become worse, and begin to attain a “hump-back” effect, where the Federal or Postal worker attempts to increase the productivity output by working that much harder, ignoring the originating medical condition yet, concurrently, becoming more and more suspicious that the Supervisor, the coworker, the “others” in the Agency, are recognizing and quietly commenting upon the deteriorating work ethic of the Federal or Postal employee.  

Most medical conditions, precisely because of the inherent nature of the medical condition itself, cannot be accommodated.  What medical conditions need most are the self-evident and obvious, but which society lacks the patience for:  treatment, time for recuperation, and space away from the daily stresses of the multi-tasking workplace.  

Disability Retirement criteria under FERS & CSRS requires that a medical condition last for a minimum of 12 months.  Such a requirement is rarely difficult to meet.  For, in this world of stress-work-productivity-result-orientation, one rarely has time to pause for a medical condition.  Such lack of pause, however, only increases the likelihood of the compounding effect of a once-singular medical condition, which over a short period of time, progressively deteriorates into a “hump-back” of multiple conditions, exacerbated by stress, magnified by an environment which has little or no time for such blips as the sorrow of the human condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire