Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Dependent Society — Not

Most people suffer in silence; if not merely because there is a recognition of limited choices, then for a realization that financial and economic independence is a position to be cherished.  Federal and Postal workers are dedicated to their jobs and careers.  With cries of budgetary cutbacks and reduced allowances for overtime, agencies require Federal and Postal workers to put in longer hours, with little financial or other incentives for rewarding longer hours.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is sometimes the question of how the Federal or Postal Worker could continue to have a “successful” (or higher) performance rating, yet claim to be unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  That is actually an easy issue to explain and debunk:  The short answer is that Federal and Postal workers are dedicated to their jobs and careers and suffer silently, and would continue to do so until they drop dead.  But for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, the self-destructive dedication of Federal and Postal Workers would result in total incapacitation and debilitation of the Federal and Postal workforce.

Instead, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement allows for cessation of work from a particular kind of job or career, while at the same time incentivizing the Federal or Postal Worker to go out into the private sector and engage in another vocation, and in essence, “self-pay” back into the system by working productively, paying taxes, etc. It is the most progressive of systems, and unlike other programs and societies of dependency, this particular one involving Federal Disability Retirement is in fact an intelligent approach for the American Worker.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Price One Pays

One hears the familiar refrain:  trying to “game” the system; taking handouts; being on the government’s dole; and multiple similar allegations and assumptions.  Perhaps there are some who receive benefits which may be considered welfare-type compensation; and, maybe there are those who attempt to obtain something for nothing — or very little.  But one must be firm in making the conceptual distinction between those “others” and Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

First, the Federal and Postal employee works — and works hard and long hours.  Second, Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package for the Federal or Postal employee.  Third, Federal Disability Retirement pays a pittance in comparison with the compensatory standard of living which the Federal or Postal employee has been used to, and no sane person would take a voluntary reduction of one’s livelihood merely to get on the “dole”.  Fourth, many — if not most — of those who receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits pay back into the system, by getting a part-time or full-time job in another vocation, thereby paying taxes, FICA, etc.  And Fifth, it is the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant who is the one who pays the price — by having endured the repetitive work to such an extent that he or she has become debilitated; or withstood the abusive mental and physical requirements of one’s position which ultimately necessitated the drastic reduction in pay and forced to take a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is the one who must pay the price — the Federal and Postal employee — who should be complaining; those who stand on the sidelines merely utter words.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The 80% Rule

I recently wrote an article on FedSmith.com concerning the legal process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and a reader posted a comment implying and suggesting a lack of understanding about a benefit which would allow for payment of 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years, and in addition, to allow for that annuitant to make up to 80% of what the former federal position currently pays.

I beg to differ. The purpose of allowing an annuitant to potentially go out and earn additional compensation in the private sector are multi-fold: it allows for an individual to remain productive; he or she continues to contribute in the workforce and, as a consequence, pays taxes, FICA, etc.; the amount of 40% (after the first year) is an incentive to go out and do something else. Further, Federal Disability Retirement benefits are part of a compensation package offered to a Federal or Postal employee — it is part of the total employment package, and there is certainly nothing wrong with taking advantage of that employment benefit if and when the need arises. The truth is that most people don’t get anywhere near the 80% mark, but hover closer to the 40 – 50% mark, and together with the disability annuity, are able to make a decent living. All in all, the 80% rule is a smart and thoughtful incentive for those who are disabled.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Right Time (Part 2)

How to determine when is the “right” time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, and when is the right time — those are issues which are quite personal and peculiar to each individual case.  Unfortunately, it is the very inherent nature of medical conditions, medical disabilities, and the chronic & debilitating symptoms that accompany such conditions, combined with the strong sense of loyalty, commitment to duty, and the desire to continue to believe that a Federal or Postal worker will overcome the current condition of disability — that often prevents a person to come to the critical point of determining the “right time”.  And, to put it in its proper perspective, this is probably a good thing, insofar as being a reflection upon the character of most individuals. 

Most individuals have a strong sense of commitment and hard work, and most want to continue to believe that one’s condition of medical disability is merely a temporary state of affairs.  But when such loyalty and commitment comes at the price of one’s personal detriment, it becomes a negative thing.  The problem comes when all of the objective indicators are ignored — when sick and annual leave are being depleted; when excessive LWOP is taken; when performance at work clearly suffers; when each night and weekend are used to recuperate from the day’s work; when savings become depleted; when a sense of desperation sets in.  Then, when it comes time to make the decision, it becomes an emergency. At that point, while it is not too late to begin the process, it is probably less than the “right time” to have started the process.  While better late than never, it is a good thing to take affirmative control of one’s future, and not let events control it uncontrollably.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The Federal Worker

Whether you work for the U.S. Postal Service, the FAA, the Secret Service, OSHA, FDIC, or one of the other countless governmental agencies, don’t ever think that filing for disability retirement is an “act of surrender” or one which is somehow “taking advantage of the system”. In the private sector, it is the salary-compensation that is emphasized.  In the Federal sector, it is the “total package” of benefits:  less salary-based emphasis, more on other benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, set number of days for annual leave and sick leave — and disability retirement benefits.  Thus, filing for disability retirement is not a “welfare” move — rather, it is an acknowledgment that you can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of your job, and you are no longer a “good fit” for that particular job.  Remember that, when filing for disability retirement, the Agency itself must attempt to see whether it can (A) reassign you to another job at the same pay or grade (which is almost never) or (B) legally accommodate you (which, also, is almost never).  Further, disability retirement is not a benefit which pays you such that you can “live high on the hog”; rather, it is a base annuity, with the understanding that you can go out and get another job making up to 80% of what your former position currently pays.  In other words, in most cases, you are expected to go out and be productive in other ways.  Far from being a “welfare benefit” — it is part of the total compensation package you signed onto, and to which the Federal government agreed to.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire