OWCP & FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees

Can both be approved concurrently?  Is there any disadvantage in filing for one “as opposed” to another?  Do they “cross over” and impact one another?  Can you receive payments concurrently, or must you choose one over the other and, if one is chosen, does it “negate” or otherwise dismiss the other?

These are all practical questions which can come about if an injury or illness results from a workplace incident or caused by an occupational hazard.  First and foremost, it should be noted that the two “pockets” of compensatory resources are different in nature: OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM Disability Retirement is. OWCP is a compensatory resource created and established as a temporary measure (although there are many, many cases where an OWCP recipient stays on and receives compensation for decades and beyond) — as a means of allowing the Federal worker to receive treatment, recuperation and rehabilitation, with a view towards an eventual return to work.

The paradigm of a FERS Federal Disability Retirement, on the other hand, is just that: It is a retirement system — essentially, starting your retirement “early” because of a medical condition or injury resulting in one’s loss of capacity to continue to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  The latter (FERS Disability Retirement) does not have to possess any causal connection to the employment itself — in other words, the medical condition or injury does not have to be “occupationally related” in order for a Federal or Postal worker to become eligible for its benefits.

Remember, however, that under a FERS Disability Retirement, a Federal or Postal worker must file for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of being separated from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  The fact that a person has been “placed on the rolls of OWCP” does not excuse the 1-year rule for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For further information on the intersection between OWCP and FERS Disability Retirement, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both, and make your decision upon factual and legal information, and not from such sources as, “I heard from Joe that…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Treading Life

We don’t often think of it in those terms; but, in fact, that is how most of us live.  Like the meek swimmer who does not want to drown, we merely tread water — sometimes calmly, often with a sense of desperation; and too often, with a fear that results in a frenzied struggle.  We invent euphemisms for that: Keeping out “heads above water”; Not drowning; “Sink or swim”; “Like being on the Titanic”; and other similar statements emanating from water-based fears.

We tread life like we tread water; just to survive, never taking the chance to swim in this direction or that; and when finally fatigue sets in to remind us that going nowhere is tantamount to waiting to be drowned, we are so weary from so much time and effort to keep afloat that we can no longer muster the energy to even swim to the edge of the pool in order to hang on or lift ourselves out.  And when those unexpected tugs, tides and tidal waves suddenly appear, we thrash about and forget the basics of how to even float, allowing the vicissitudes of life’s mishaps to determine the course of our lives, the quality of how we live and the manner of who we are.

Medical conditions have a way of doing that — of making us forget how to even swim.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one of more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Treading Life is what we are often forced to do; drowning in life’s problems is what we are too often faced with; swimming with a purposeful destination is what we need to do —and that is the purpose of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Confronting Reality

When are the times we try and avoid it?  Is that the line between sanity and the “darker world”?  If we avoid it more than we embrace it, does it constitute a step beyond eccentricity and fall into the category of bizarre behavior?  If that were the case, how many of us would meet that definition?  Does engaging in entertainment — whether of the couch potato type or of the active one — constitute avoidance?

Say a person binge-watches a certain television series for 72-hours straight, then sleeps for another 72 hours; such a person has certainly “avoided” the reality of life’s responsibilities, duties, obligations, etc.  But would we deem such a person to be insane?  If he were a bachelor who has no commitments or responsibilities, and acted in such a manner during “vacation time” or during a period of unemployment, we would perhaps not give it a second thought.  But say the same person had a toddler whom he neglected for those 100-plus hours — then, of course, we would consider it as irresponsible behavior, if not criminal neglect.

“Confronting reality” is often deemed the antonym of “avoiding reality”; it is something we all do — both confronting and avoiding — and crosses the diving line between “responsible” and “irresponsible” behavior.  Of course, the latter is sometimes necessary in order to refresh one’s self in order to engage in the former, and so we embrace entertainment and leisure activities in order to adequately prepare ourselves to cross over from one to the other.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her position, confronting reality is often delayed in order to try and extend one’s career with the Federal government.  Often, early on in suffering from a medical condition, it becomes quite clear whether or not the Federal or Postal worker can continue in his or her chosen career.  This is the point where “confronting reality”, however, clashes with the desire to avoid it and to instead embrace the make-believe universe of “What ifs” — What if things improve?  What if the Agency or Postal Service is willing to be patient?  What if they can accommodate me?

Consult with an attorney experienced in Federal Disability Retirement Law; for as difficult as it may be in confronting reality, it is the reality of the law that will help you avoid the pitfalls which you will surely want to avoid in the days to come.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Life as a Series of Problems

There are television series; of “mini-series”; of a series of movie episodes once popularity of the first viewing has established the call for a following.

In television and theatrical drama, there has to be an opportunity for “character development” — of getting to “know” a person, of seeing him or her in various contexts in order to determine “who” a person is by what they do, how they react and the very essence of their belief-systems.  Rarely is a play, a story or a novel of any interest when it involves a person or multiple individuals sitting around expounding upon their beliefs or “principles” of life, and why is that?  Is it because a person who talks without being tested can offer nothing more than the sound of air?

The movie of life always presents us with a series of problems; that is what makes a good story, of course — of conflicts, their resolution; the way in which individuals are “tested”, and not merely by hypothetical presentations of analytical problem-solving gestures.

Medical conditions — whether later in life or occurring earlier— always present a challenge that tests a person in so many ways, precisely because medical issues hit at the core of everything about a person: How we see ourselves; what we are able to do; where we go and seek guidance and counsel; and all of the multitude of reverberating effects upon so many varied aspects of our lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is just one of life’s series of problems.

It is never a guarantee; it is never a “sure thing”; and as OPM appears to be denying more FERS Disability Retirement cases under this Administration than ever before, it is important to prepare and formulate a plan for a Federal Disability Retirement application and to recognize it as another slice of life’s problems in a series of such problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire