Most doctors, attorneys, and the general public are familiar with the concept of “disability benefits”, but only in relation to the Social Security Administration. It is rare that disability benefits are associated with, or are known to exist, separately for Federal employees or the U.S. Postal Service, in relation to a concept which is progressively unique and creatively formulated within a context of a society and a bureaucracy which is not normally know for such characteristics: a system of disability where the disabled individual is encouraged to seek employment without being penalized for earning income by immediately terminating the disability benefits.
Yes, for Federal and Postal employees, there is the cut-off margin of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays; and, yes, if the private-sector employment is too similar in nature to the positional requirements and essential elements of the former Federal or Postal job, such parallel identity can result in a determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the former Federal employee or Postal worker is deemed medically recovered; but within those generous parameters, the paradigm upon which Federal Disability Retirement is based, is what can only be described as a “working paradigm”, precisely because, as a system of incentives, it works, and as a practical matter, it encourages Federal and Postal workers to continue to remain productive in the workforce, and to perpetuate a self-paying system, as opposed to the de-incentivized system of Social Security, which has an extremely low threshold of allowable income before terminating benefits.
OPM Disability Retirement is effective precisely because it is a working paradigm — both in a pragmatic sense, and as a metaphorical basis for building a foundation for one’s future, as opposed to being stuck in the rut of an administrative bureaucracy which fails to understand and appreciate the human instinct to remain productive.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire