Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Life’s Satire

There is a subtle distinction between satire and comedy; as the latter is intended directly to evoke laughter, in whatever manner possible (though, of course, there are comedies which provoke guffaws of loud, unconstrained and boisterous mirth, as opposed to the delicious chuckle, and a spectrum of multiple layers in between), the former can be dead serious, in leveling commentaries and sharp criticism upon political or social misfortunes.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have contended with the bureaucracy of their own agency, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be more akin to a satire, than a comedic episode of a tumultuous interlude.  Medical conditions are no laughing matter; but the process of coming to the realization that one’s own agency or the U.S. Postal Service will not do anything to accommodate one’s medical condition, despite a history of years and decades of dedicated service, is but a satire of sorts.

Then, the administrative headaches inherent in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is like a running commentary upon the satirical process which began when first we became a Federal or Postal worker.

Viewing a satire while seated as an observing audience, can be a pleasant experience. Identifying one’s self as one of the actors in the play, is what is most disturbing. But when the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, becomes both the spectator as well as the player, the scene itself takes on aspects of another turn: for, as dreams allow for the dreamer to sometimes recognize that one is dreaming, so the elevation of a dream into a nightmare can be identified as short-lived and merely to be endured until one is awakened from the slumber of a tragedy, yet unfolding, still to be determined as to the outcome of the satire of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The 80% Rule and Other Considerations

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is always the future which one must plan for — the short-term future of obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management; the intermediate future of adjusting to the monetary reduction; the longer-term future of planning for another career, to supplement the income from one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

As to the last factor, the “80%” rule must always be adhered to — that while FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement allows for a person to work in the private sector and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, the greater question often involves:  Doing what?  Federal and Postal workers who have worked in the Federal Sector have done so to perfect all of the skills and knowledge for a particular career path.  As such, as with most individuals, to become “disabled” from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job is devastating not only financially, but moreover, the impact is upon one’s “life work” in so many other ways — upon one’s identity, which is bundled up so intimately in one’s career and work.

Can an injured or partially disabled Federal Employee who has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS go out and obtain a State, County or City job, or one in the private sector, which is similar to one’s former Federal job?  The general answer is “yes” — so long as one adheres to the 80% rule, and so long as the “essential elements” which you could not do, are not required in the new job.  The trick is to differentiate and justify the distinction, and such differentiation and justification can involve both medical and legal issues which should be addressed prior to acceptance of the new non-Federal job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Taking a Trickle of Leave and Back Pay Issues

When a Federal or Postal employee files for, and is approved for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the disability retirement annuity which one receives extends back to the “last day of pay” of a Federal or Postal employee.  It matters not what “kind” of pay; the Office of Personnel Management merely receives the date of the Federal or Postal employee’s last day of pay from the Agency, then gives back-pay back to that date which the Agency determines that he or she was last paid.

Thus, if a person was on LWOP for a six-month period while awaiting for a decision from OPM on his or her Federal Disability Retirement application, then decided to use up the last couple of hours of Annual or Sick Leave and receive a nominal amount — in that scenario, the back pay would extend only to the payment received for the Annual or Sick Leave, and the Federal or Postal employee would lose any back-pay for the six-month period of LWOP.

With this in mind, it is important to plan — to either remain on LWOP during the entire period of waiting for a decision from OPM, or if one continues to work or to receive payments for Sick or Annual Leave, to make it worth one’s while (i.e., to continue to receive a payment rate equal to what the rate of pay for back-pay would be, which is 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of salary the first year, then 40% every year thereafter).  Just some thoughts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Reminder

If a Federal or Postal Employee files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, remember that:  (A)  You are not required to stop working, as most people for economic necessity continue to work, and (B)  If you stop working, and you are not using your Sick Leave or Annual Leave, but are out on LWOP, remember that once you obtain an approval for your Federal Disability Retirement, that back-pay will be paid all the way back to your “last day of pay”, and not to the last day you “worked”. 

In other words, if you are out on LWOP for three months (as a hypothetical), and on the day before you are approved for your OPM Disability Retirement, you receive a paycheck from your Agency for 1 hour of SL or AL, then you have lost all of the potential “back pay” of the three months on LWOP, because the “last day of pay” was the day just before your Federal Disability Retirement was approved.  Be careful that this does not happen.  While donated leave is often accepted because of economic necessity, you will likely regret accepting such payment once your Federal Disability Retirement application is approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire