FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The key to happiness

There are countless titles of books which predicate upon the presumptuous endeavor; palm readers who, for a prepaid fee, make their living from it; and wanderers who trek the Himalayas in search of it.  Others merely change the definition or meaning of what constitutes the achieved goal, or drink themselves silly when self-deception fails to fulfill.

The problem with happiness is that it was once a byproduct of our lives; when it became the end-goal, the very nature and essence of it became unachievable.  It is when a singular focus upon an effect becomes the sighted destination to reach, that the frustration of unrealistic expectations come to the fore, and dismay and doubt of self becomes the mainstay.  Happiness was never meant to be a constancy of one’s trophied achievement; rather, it is a secondary effect as the residual of an accomplished life.  Frustration thus dawns upon us because the fleeting aspect of its very nature is never within one’s control.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from an ongoing medical condition, such frustration of purpose is self-evident on a daily basis, especially when one plays the never-ending game of, “If only X…”  For, the contingent precedent is never within the grasp or control of the injured Federal or Postal Worker, or one who is beset with progressively debilitating medical conditions.  Federal Agencies and the U.S. Postal Service make it their job to obfuscate, place obstacles, and ensure the daily denial of accommodations, and flout their open disregard of the laws and protections allegedly designed for Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition.

Often, in life, there are limited choices; but the options we choose are the known pathways to happiness.  Loss of it, or the denial of the effect, comes about when we rely upon those things which are beyond our control, and expect others to “do the right thing“.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the key to happiness is to take affirmative steps in taking charge of one’s own life.  Beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a pragmatic step which one can actually quantify with respect to the progress made towards a goal defined.

Purchasing another book with the word “happiness” in it will be to waste another dollar; identifying those issues within the purview and control of one’s destiny is a greater investment in achieving a realistic goal defined, so that one day, when the whispers of past days of dark and dismal hauntings are remembered from a place afar, the vestiges of unhappiness will merely be a faint echo in the peaceful slumber of one’s joyous summers yet to be dreamed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Social Security Factor on the FERS Disability Retirement Claim

For the FERS employee, whether as a Federal, non-Postal employee, or as a Postal worker, who intends to file for Federal Disability Retirements benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the administrative process of filing for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) is a bureaucratic involvement and, by some accounts from Human Resource Offices of various Federal agencies, there is the view that the Federal Retirement application cannot be process by OPM unless and until SSDI is also filed.  This is not true.

While SSDI must be filed, and a receipt of such filing shown to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the purpose of such filing from the standpoint of OPM is not to compare or evaluate the enhanced eligibility status of a FERS disability retirement applicant by seeing whether or not the Social Security Administration will approve or disapprove one’s claim (that would be too logical, inasmuch as there is a higher legal standard of essentially “total disability” under SSDI, and so an approval by Social Security Disability standards should then automatically invite approval by OPM) — although, under Trevan v. OPM, there is certainly a basis to invite such a legal analysis.

No; the only reason why OPM wants to see a receipt of an SSDI filing, is merely for purposes of cross-checking whether or not a monetary offset should be applied if both SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement annuities are concurrently paid.  And, even then, it is often the case that the 100% offset in the concurrent receipt of payments from an OPM Disability annuity and SSDI in the first year, and the subsequent years of 60% offset of payments, will not be applied, and OPM will come back years later demanding the refund of the overpayments resulting from the failure of OPM applying the offset.

Most Federal employees and Postal workers who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will continue to either work to a limited extent, or at least remain on the rolls of their Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service during the long waiting time during the process of filing for Federal Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and, as such, there will be an automatic denial from the Social Security Administration because of income considerations for the year in question, etc.

The simplest solution to Human Resource Offices demanding and insisting that SSDI must be filed for before an OPM Disability Retirement application is processed and forwarded to Boyers, PA, is to file online, get a receipt, and be done with it. Then, if OPM requests that the applicant file again at a later date to determine if a denial from SSDI was truly based upon one’s disability (or lack thereof), or because of income considerations, then that can be done with greater effort after one has received a Medical Disability approval from OPM.

This is a world of bureaucracies, and the rules, however lacking of a rational foundation, needs to be adhered to and complied with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire