Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: To File or Not to File

The famous Shakespearean refrain is from Hamlet’s soliloquy, and concerns the choices of one’s life, of comparative analysis of meaning, value and purpose; but ultimately it is a question of choices — akin to Camus’ evocative essay in The Myth of Sisyphus.  Choices are what confront us daily; and some, unless we opt to proactively pursue the right path, are lost forever.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has been separated from Federal Service, the angst of filing often prevents them from choosing.  But with a legal Statute of Limitations barring the Federal or Postal worker from filing after one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service, it is at a minimum important to file, than not to, in order to preserve the right to potential eligibility of benefits.

Not to file within the deadline bars the Federal and Postal employee from ever making an argument, ever seeing whether one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; by filing within the deadline of one (1) year, one can always likely supplement one’s case, make further arguments, reinforce one’s case after the deadline; but if one fails to file within the statutory deadline, then one is silenced forever.

The choice of Hamlet is indeed a stark one, and one which Camus reiterated as one of “why” in facing the existential reality of survival; for Federal and Postal workers who face a statutorily-imposed potential for being barred forever, a similar encounter with reality must be faced:  to file or not to file.  Only the former choice makes sense, while the latter option propels one into the great void of nothingness and nihilism — a state of non-existence which one should never choose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Decisions by OPM

In making a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Office of Personnel Management has a policy which essentially refuses to convey the decision over the telephone, and asks that the applicant wait until the letter of approval or denial is received by the applicant.  This is probably a sound policy, despite resulting in a few more days of additional waiting, testing the patience of the Federal or Postal employee who is anxious in anticipation of a favorable decision.  

The problems which could potentially be compounded and exponentially multiplied by an erroneous or contradictory communication between what the OPM worker states over the telephone, and what the decision made by the Claims Representative who is handling the particular case of the inquiring individual, would (and potentially could) unnecessarily complicate matters.  

One assumes that what the Office of Personnel Management is attempting to avoid, aside from privacy concerns of not being able to adequately identify the person on the other end of the telephone, is the potential scenario where the Federal or Postal applicant has been denied in his or her Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, but is told over the telephone that he or she has been approved, or vice versa.  

Beyond that, however, it is a reasonable policy to have by any Federal agency — for protection of confidential information which only the Federal or Postal employee/applicant and his or her representative attorney should have access to.  While a few more days may indeed increase the anxiety level of the applicant, it is well to try and understand that such a policy of not revealing information to someone who has not been properly identified, is one which the Federal or Postal employee should not get upset with OPM about.  

There are enough issues to be upset with OPM about; protecting the privacy of confidential information is not one of them.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Don’t Count Your Chickens …

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is — as has been previously stated ad nauseum in the past — a process which, once completed and filed, requires the enduring virtue of patience.  

During the waiting period, it is natural for the Federal or Postal employee to experience the anxiety and angst of awaiting the decision from the Office of Personnel Management.  Whether continuing to work in a limited, light duty capacity; remaining and waiting it out on LWOP; using up all of one’s accrued sick leave; working at a temporary assignment; or working a job in the private sector to make ends meet; whatever one’s status, there is little one can do during the long waiting period with OPM.  

Calling them will not necessarily evoke a helpful response, but calling just to “check on the status” will often calm one’s fears and anxieties, exacerbated over time because of the sense of isolation and disquietude created by the wasteland period of waiting.  

One rule to follow, however:  when contacting the Office of Personnel Management, it is best not to try and “gauge” the response of the reviewing “specialist” or “Claims Representative” (or whatever other euphemism of self-identity the person may ascribe to), whether in tone, words or verbal references.  Whether an initial denial or an approval, the status of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application should be ascertained only upon the receipt, in hand, of the actual decision.  

Don’t count those chickens before they hatch.  Indeed, don’t even count the eggs; wait until the receipt in hand of the documentary evidence showing an approval or a denial.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire