OPM Disability Retirement: Fragrance of Fear

One rarely associates fear with fragrance; perhaps with a malodorous scent, mixed with angst and perspiring anxieties just before flight; but, no, fragrance is generally linked to perfumes and similarly heightened pleasantries which enhance the attraction of attention.  But to dictators and emperors of insignificant fiefdoms, fear emits a sweet fragrance, one inviting sadistic responses and enlivening a meanness awoken by the subtle aroma of vulnerability and susceptibility.

Medical conditions invite fear; fear within the individual suffering from the injury or disability, for the future, for the pain and suffering associated with the diagnosis and prognosis; fear from without, expressed by loved ones and those whose associations can be counted within the circle of friends, family, and close acquaintances.  Beyond the normal parameters described, however, the ethereal fragrance of fear is caught by the olfactory nerves of predatory consciences awaiting the whiff of anticipated anxieties; as an evolutionary conduit to survival, it serves also to invite the unintended to exacerbated difficulties of life.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions, whether of a physical or psychiatric nature matters not, the progressive deterioration and manifestation of the medical condition engenders a proportional heightening of fear; fear, in turn, further impacts one’s inability to perform the full functions of one’s job; and failure revealed at one’s Federal or Postal employment tends to invite a hostile work environment, bringing out the worst in people.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is an option which the Federal or Postal employee should always consider, when once the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Such a step is often the only pragmatic option to attain the needed context of restorative health, and to quash the fears which envelope and accompany the crisis. For, it is often the fragrance of fear which wafts through the still air and invites the things that go bump in the night, and where washing one’s hands clean is the single best route, as opposed to dousing one with perfumes, scented soaps and smelling salts, only to exacerbate the greater troubles of multiplied turbulences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: FERS & SSDI Offset

This information has been concurrently posted on the “forum” concerning FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement, because it is a pending issue which may impact many (former) Federal and Postal employees who are receiving both FERS Disability Retirement benefits as well as SSDI, and impacted by the offset between the two.  

Under FERS, you must file for Social Security Disability benefits.  However, everyone should be aware of two basic (potential) problems:  (1)  There is a much lower “cap” under SSDI as to what one can earn in income and (2) There is an offset between FERS Disability annuity and SSDI (100% the first year, 60% every year thereafter).  Further, as SSDI has a higher and more restrictive standard of proof (generally, one of “total disability” as opposed to being disabled from being able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job), most Federal and Postal employees will not qualify for SSDI, and so it is not an issue.  

However, every Federal and Postal employee should be aware of the following:  If a Federal or Postal employee becomes qualified for both SSDI and FERS Disability retirement, and receives the joint annuities from both sources, and if at a later time he/she exceeds the income cap as set by SSDI and loses the SSDI benefit, one would presume/assume that since the source of the offset is lost, that OPM would reinstate the full FERS Disability annuity amount.  Not so.  There is a legal distinction being made by OPM between being “eligible” and being “entitled”, and the fact that one is no longer “eligible” does not mean that one is not “entitled”, and therefore no reinstatement of the full annuity is made.  

A couple of cases are presently be appealed to the 3-Judge panel at the MSPB, and a decision is forthcoming any day.  If favorable, good for everyone.  If not, then an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will be entertained.

Knowing what the law says is the key to proper preparation in any event, and regardless of what the outcome of the case will/may be, knowing the law will allow for all recipients of a FERS Disability Retirement annuity to adequately prepare and to act accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire