Disability Retirement under FERS: Adopting an Adaptive Plan

Most of us barely have one; and when we do, we quickly forget about it and move on, satisfied that —by the mere declaration of having one — we need not implement it or follow it rigorously beyond the mere possession of it.

The old Soviet Union (do we remember what the abbreviation, “U.S.S.R.” stood for?) had 5 and 10 year plans, and when the stated goals were not met, they simply cooked the books and declared that they were well ahead of the declared plans, and so the satellite nations under the rubric of the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” nodded its approval and genuflected to the Soviet Central Planning Committee (for, you couldn’t have a plan unless there were multiple committees to make those plans) and were grateful for the plans even though their populace were starving, despite the declared success of all of that planning.

Battlefield officers rely upon them; although, in recent years, because war is no longer fought by armies planning an attack upon other armies, the need for adopting an adaptive plan has become a survival necessity.  Life itself rarely follows a plan; most of the time, one’s day is consumed by just trying to survive.

When a medical condition hits us, of course, then all of the planning in the world — from a retrospective and myopic viewpoint — didn’t amount to much.  What is the plan, then, for a Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform his or her job because of the medical conditions that prevent one from doing so?

The Federal Disability Retirement “plan” is to allow for a Federal or Postal employee to file for OPM Medical Retirement benefits under FERS, so that the Federal employee can medically retire, focus upon one’s health and still, hopefully, enter the workforce in the near or mid-future and continue to contribute, all the while receiving a disability retirement annuity.  Now, that sounds like adopting an adaptive plan where interruption of a life plan allows for some grace beyond lack of planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Durational Attitude, Or: “If Only I Had…”

There are periodic offers for an “early out”; or the ability upon reaching certain trigger points of leaving the Federal Government; or receiving OWCP benefits, which is certainly a higher rate of immediate return (assuming qualification and eligibility has been established); or even a settlement for a separation with some severance pay, a lump sum to settle a lawsuit, etc.

On the other hand, one of the advantages of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, of course, is that the number of years which one remains on Federal Disability Retirement counts toward the total number of years of service, such that at age 62, when the Disability Retirement benefit is recalculated as regular retirement, those years on Disability Retirement are calculated into the benefit. Thus, for those who live to be a ripe old age, those differences in percentage points will continue to reap the benefits.

It is the long-term viewpoint which should always be considered; for, in later years, the durational perspective, if not taken, may well result in the rueful reminiscence of a forlorn, regretful attitude.  One may make statements of vacuity, such as, “I don’t live with regrets”; but the annuity and one’s bank account may tell a different story.

Planning for the future in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, entails, involves, and encapsulates more than just the “now” and the “present”; it is the immediacy of the future which one should always plan for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: And Beyond…

Can you remember a time of health?  A time in the past when you were pain-free, able to have the cognitive acuity to focus, concentrate, and attend to the details of a task?  A time past is a reminder of the potentiality of a time-future.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the central point of the administrative process should always be kept in mind:  to reach a point in life where one can have a recuperative period of rest, restorative time, and multiple days beyond pain and ill health.  But just as the “gestalt” moment in a psychological awakening is not the end of the story, but merely a slice of life in a greater context of historicity, so the various events of the administrative process in preparing, formulating, filing, and finally obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not the end of the narrative for the Federal or Postal employee seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

There is life beyond; as such, obtaining an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is merely the beginning of the next step, and not the “end” of anything.  An approval from OPM is a goal worth achieving; but such a goal is merely an intermediate step in a greater cause:  of attaining a state of health, somewhat like the “former” self of yesteryears; of planning for a brighter future in a second vocation; and to be able to enjoy one’s family, friends, and the circle of those closest and most important:  those who have been loyal, even when loyalty revealed a disappointment in those whom you depended upon, and thought you could depend upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Interactions

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a necessary step for a Federal or Postal employee who finds that he or she can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job because of a medical condition.  

In doing so, there are obviously potential interactive processes which one must consider.  If the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, then you must file for SSDI (Social Security Disability benefits), because that is what the law requires.  

Further, one must determine how aggressively, to what extent, and to what end and purpose one needs to file in pursuing SSDI concurrently — for, if one is planning on working at another, separate job while receiving a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, then the cap imposed by SSDI as opposed to the 80% allowance for FERS Disability Retirement without SSDI, needs to be taken into consideration.  Such future planning will then determine the course of one’s actions, as to how hard one will try and obtain SSDI benefits.  

Additionally, if the medical condition arose from a work-related injury, then obviously filing a claim concurrently with the Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation under FECA should be contemplated.  

Then, there are those who, whether by accident or wisdom and foresight, obtained and paid for throughout the intervening years, a private disability insurance policy.  Such private disability insurance policies are essentially contracts — and whether there is an offset with Federal Disability Retirement benefits, Social Security, or OWCP depends upon the “fine print” of the contract.  

One minor note as to private disability policies:  The time to read the fine print is when the insurance agent is trying to sell you a policy — not when you need to apply for the benefits.  Private policies can be negotiated, and the terms can be amended.  

Finding a negative consequence after the fact is a costly error in judgment which can easily be mitigated by spending a few moments at the outset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire