FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The Respite

Then there is the story of the office worker who was called in to discuss certain matters with the boss, and during the course of the conversation, boasted proudly that he had not taken a vacation in five years, thereby intimating his commitment and dedication to the company.

The boss became silent, shook his head gravely, and promptly fired the man on the spot.  In shock and dismay, the young office worker asked in exasperation why the boss would do such a thing, and the older man replied:  “Two reasons.  First, you need a vacation.  Now you have one.  Second, the company cannot afford to keep someone who fails to understand the needs of a human being.”  And so the irony of the young office worker reveals the self-contradiction of so many circumstances.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, the one truism which stands out is that those who are beset with a progressively deteriorating medical condition, can never take a “vacation” from the condition itself.  Thus, for those who are healthy, we often take for granted our state of existence.

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to have a period of respite, away from those very work activities which continue to exacerbate and compound the problem of the medical condition itself.

It may be that, in the end, there is little or no choice in the matter.

For, either the work will continue to suffer and the Federal agency or Postal Service will terminate the Federal or Postal worker, or the medical condition itself will dictate the terms of work cessation.  In either event, thought should be given to the future, and to a time of recuperative distancing from an activity which cannot continue forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Actions

“That which the Federal Agency determines is tantamount to the hand of God — only more powerful.”  Or so it may often seem.  And so the Federal (and Postal) Worker will often wait with trepidation and anxious disturbances, caught in the limbo of a Federal bureaucracy, whether in issuing a leave-restriction letter, a warning, a formal PIP plan, a determination of being fit or unfit for duty, and multiple other actions which will adversely impact upon a Federal worker.

Preemptive actions rarely have any efficacy with a Federal Agency; an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board is often seen as a mere formality for the Board to render a decision in the agency’s favor, especially when it comes to agency actions concerning discipline and work; and an EEO complaint, while a tactic for forestalling ultimate decisions, is a burdensome and lengthy process of litigation.

Federal Disability Retirement is often the most advantageous of avenues to pursue, if only because the standard of proof to meet the eligibility criteria is quite low — not the high standard of Social Security Disability, where one must show a deleterious impact upon the daily living abilities, but the much lower standard of being unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Proactive choices in life are often limited, especially when one is confronted with a seemingly omnipotent entity like a Federal Agency; but Federal Disability Retirement is an existent benefit which allows for the Federal or Postal employee to opt out and reach that rehabilitative period of seclusion, in order to regain one’s health and come back for another day, another fight, another round.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Meaning of Separation from Service

The 1-year rule, or more properly, the Statute of Limitations, continues to be confused at various levels.  The beginning point in understanding the rule must always be to first clarify what constitutes the trigger-point; for, if one does not know what represents the first day of the year, how can one calculate the remaining 364 days?

First, in negative form:  Being on LWOP, Sick Leave, or any time of leave, does not constitute a separation from service.  Indeed, logically, if one reflects upon it for a moment, the very fact that one is on some type of leave would imply that one is on leave “from” an agency, thereby inferring that no separation from service has yet occurred.  Thus, separation from Federal Service is an event which occurs when a Federal or Postal employee affirmatively resigns; is issued a termination or separation letter; or is issued a personnel action on an SF Form 50 or PS Form 50, showing that Federal or Postal employment has been terminated.

For Postal employees, if you continue to receive a “0”-balance pay stub, it likely means that you have not yet been separated.

Obviously, for Federal Disability Retirement purposes, whether under FERS or CSRS, knowing whether or not you are separated from Federal Service is important, because the Office of Personnel Management will not make a determination on the substantive basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application if it has been filed in an untimely manner (i.e., after a year has passed from the date of separation).

Then, of course, there is also the “other” 1-year rule, of showing that one’s medical condition will last for a minimum of 12 months.  But let us not get ahead of ourselves and confuse and conflate the two.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire