Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Shutdown

It is always the unassuming worker who becomes impacted by the larger geopolitical decisions made by the power brokers of the world.  While the short term impact of the current government shut down will apparently not interrupt the flow of disability pension checks, we must wait to see whether a protracted stalemate will reverberate with negative consequences.

For Federal and Postal Workers who are facing the unwanted challenges of a medical condition, and who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the current state of affairs will likely mean further delays in the processing of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

As personnel offices in agencies across the United States shut down, so the magnitude of interrupted processing of disability retirement packets will exponentially increase over time.  But Federal and Postal workers who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have no real alternative options than to move forward; the sooner one files, the sooner one is able to find a place in line; and though the line may move at a slower pace, it will ultimately move nonetheless.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Looming Crisis

Whether the Federal government temporarily shuts down, and for how long, is ultimately besides the point; the essence of the problem concerns the long-term viability of government operations, and the ability to sustain benefits promised, or to refine and reform, to what extent, and in what manner.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the medical and work challenges already faced have created an unstable atmosphere, and so the potential looming crisis is merely a further problem to be dealt with.

The fact that the Federal government is unable to agree upon a budget process which has been impending for quite some time, is just another testament to the cold and indifferent attitude of a bureaucracy which fails to account for the daily needs of its citizens.  There have been government shutdowns in the past; and there will be more in the future.

For the Federal and Postal employee, what impact will be felt as a result of the contentious legislative process, will have to be seen.  In the meantime, however, what the Federal and Postal employee must do is to pursue the process, regardless of what Washington does, in order to stand in the proverbial line of the Federal bureaucracy, hoping for a favorable outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Persuading with Persuasive Arguments

The question is often asked concerning whether or not and to what extent other collateral agency decisions can impact a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), whether under FERS or CSRS.

The only answer which can be provided is the standard, “It depends…”  The reason why “it depends” is precisely because utilization of any persuasive information or evidence is primarily dependent upon the persuasive efficacy of the evidence itself.

There is certainly legal case-law support for collateral evidentiary submissions, including SSDI, Department of Veterans Affairs ratings, Military Board findings, and DOL/OWCP second opinion and “referee” findings, etc.  Thus, the issue is not whether or not there is a basis for using such third-hand sources to support the primary evidentiary foundation of a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, the issue becomes one of how effectively should one use such evidence.  Such a question, of course, can only depend upon the particular and unique circumstances of each case, by analyzing and reviewing the strength, applicability, and relevance of the documented information.

Sometimes, use of such collateral evidence can somewhat backfire, in that OPM will actually point to such evidence and discuss it in a way which supports a denial.  Care and discretion must always be taken in using collateral information; it is always the primacy of the primary information which must be used, and used effectively.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Looming Government Shutdown

Whether or not there comes to fruition the possibility of a government “shutdown”, partial, and to what extent, etc., the underlying reverberations result in the anxiety it causes to thousands of Federal and Postal workers, both Federal Disability Retirement annuitants and to the applicants who are awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management.  

Those who are receiving an annuity will likely be unaffected, for the wheels of bureaucracy should continue to issue the annuity checks and electronic deposits.  Those awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management will likely experience a longer wait — a wait on top of the already unbearable timeframe which the Office of Personnel Management is subjecting the applicants of a Federal Disability Retirement.  

Ultimately, it is a preposterous situation where those who are blameless in the matter (the hardworking Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS) will be the very ones who will be subjected to the consequences of looming budget crisis. Certainly, the current budgetary growth trend is unsustainable (that is not an arguable point); but annuitants of a Federal Disability Retirement under either FERS or CSRS do not appreciably contribute to the budget deficit.  Many go on to other jobs and careers and pay taxes, precisely because Federal Disability Retirement allows for a Federal or Postal worker to go out and earn another income from another job.  However, as with so many events in life, it is those who are least responsible who must bear the brunt of a crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But… (Part 2)

Then, of course, there are the multiple “other” issues which the Office of Personnel Management “says so”, such as failure to pay the full amount of back-pay due; failure to compute the average of the highest-3 consecutive years correctly; reinstating the full amount of FERS once a person becomes no longer eligible for Social Security Disability benefits; arbitrarily and capriciously deciding that the medical report is not “good enough” in answering a post-disability approved, Medical Questionnaire; failing to compute the earned income in any given year properly, and thereby informing the disability retirement annuitant that he or she earned over the 80% limit of what the former federal employee’s former job currently pays; and a host of other issues.  My specialty is in obtaining disability retirement benefits for my clients; I only selectively get involved in post-disability annuity issues, but the point here is that the Office of Personnel Management has a track-record of being in error, in multiple ways, on multiple issues, in volumes of cases. 

It is thus important to recognize that the Office of Personnel Management is not an infallible agency.  Far, far from it, they are merely made up of people who are subject to error, but often stubbornly so — unless you counter their denial in an aggressive, but calm and rational manner.  If a denial comes your way, do not get distressed; prepare your case well, and lay out the groundwork necessary to win.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire