Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Pilot

It is actually a misnomer to connect the terms “automatic” and “pilot” , precisely because the former term completely and unilaterally undermines the latter.  Think about it:  the entire concept of the term “pilot” denotes and encompasses the ability of an individual to control the destiny, direction and distance of that which he is maneuvering; once it is turned over to an engineering phenomenon which performs the activity with data already inputted by others, such control is lost, and the fullness of what it means to pilot a vehicle becomes meaningless.

It is, ultimately, a question of who controls the destiny.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question is often one of being pulled and controlled by one’s circumstances, or becoming the pilot of one’s destiny and proceeding to dictate the terms and timing of one’s future.

Agencies by nature like to have control; whether it is in hiring, promoting, separating or engaging in adverse actions, agencies enjoy being the determining entity in all aspects of a Federal or Postal employee’s life.  One can wait for an agency to make a determination on one’s career or future; and, to that extent, they become the “automatic pilot” of one’s destiny.

It is up to the Federal or Postal employee to make a decision as to whether or not one should erase the former term, leaving one with the unmistakable role of being the pilot who determines one’s own destiny.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Life after Disability Retirement

The focus upon the “now”, of course, can not be avoided; for the “now” constitutes the present circumstances, the period of preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; where the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; where the severity, chronicity and extent of the persistent pain, the overwhelming psychiatric infringement upon one’s ability to focus, concentrate, etc.; or where the ability to have the sustained stamina and daily energy has been depleted to such an experiential phenomena that the very “now” is all that one can focus upon.

There is, however, indeed a life after Federal Disability Retirement, and as much of the administrative process of obtaining the benefit is a long and arduous waiting period, it is beneficial to consider what will happen, what one will do, can do, etc., once an approval is obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Remember, in being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, one can go out and earn up to 80% of what one’s former salary pays currently.

Further, this is not OWCP — where, if one is receiving temporary total disability compensation, you cannot work at all (there are some minor exceptions under FECA/OWCP rules, such as if you were working at another part-time position of a different nature prior to the accepted date of injury, you may be allowed to continue to work that “other” job, etc.).  Nor is this SSDI, where there is a severe cap on the limit of what one may earn (although, if one is getting FERS Disability Retirement concurrently with SSDI, then there is an offset between the two).

The period of waiting can be a fertile time of preparation for life after an approval.  Or, such future plans can be placed on temporary hold for purposes of using the time for recuperative rest.  In any event, the “now” is merely a passing time of fleeting moments, as a cherry blossom withering in the early morning dew as the sun begins to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: SSDI and the Pursuance Thereof

How aggressively one should pursue SSDI concurrently as one is preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a question which one is often confronted with during the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

If one is under CSRS, then the question is a moot point, because CSRS employees do not have a requirement of filing for SSDI benefits.

For FERS employees, however, who make up the vast majority of Federal and Postal employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is a requirement of filing concurrently for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.  For purposes of satisfying the requirement of OPM, one needs to only show a receipt that one has filed.  Further, while many Human Resources personnel offices, both for Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service (the latter being comprised of the central office known as the H.R. Shared Services Center located in Greensboro, N.C.), misinform and misinterpret the statutory requirement of filing for SSDI, by telling people either that one must file and get a decision from the Social Security Administration prior to filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits (wrong), or that you cannot file for FERS Disability Retirement unless and until you file for SSDI (also wrong) — the fact is, the only time OPM requires a showing of having filed for SSDI is at the time of an approval of a FERS Disability Retirement application.

As for how actively or aggressively one should pursue SSDI?  That depends, in most cases, on whether you will be attempting to work in a private sector job while on Federal Disability Retirement.  Because SSDI has stringent limits on what you can make in earned income, while OPM Disability Retirement allows for you to make up to 80% of what your former position currently pays, on top of the disability retirement annuity one receives, it becomes a pragmatic calculation.

Pragmatism is the guiding light to determine one’s self-interest, and that which is in the best interest of one’s future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Planning Ahead for a Better Future

Ultimately, when the time comes for a Federal or Postal employee to begin to think about preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is both the beginning of a long administrative process, as well as the endpoint of a long period of reflection (hopefully), preparation (a necessity), and enduring of a medical condition (which has eventually transitioned into a state of chronic medical condition or a progressively deteriorating condition, but in any event one which has lasted or will last a minimum of 12 months, which is the legal requirement under FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement).

Thus, the point of the decision is a critical juncture in a Federal or Postal worker’s life, precisely because it marks both the end of a productive career, as well as a beginning of a process.  However, just to think in terms of the two points of the process — the end of a career and the beginning of a long administrative process — would be to fail to look beyond the obtaining of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For, the truth of the matter is that there is “life beyond” obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, and indeed, there is an incentive for a former Federal or Postal worker who is receiving a Federal Disability Retirement annuity to become productive in another capacity, in the private sector.  The next stage of life is often the more critical period of one’s life.  Reflection on that “next stage” is something worthwhile to think about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Changes & Transition

Change is a necessary part of life; indeed, this is a time of change for many, as schools end, young men and women graduate from college; people often get married in the months of spring & early summer, etc.

As one grows older, and one becomes more “entrenched” in one’s career, finances, and daily routine & family life, “change” becomes a greater hardship.  Indeed, for those filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is precisely “change” which is the hardest aspect of the entire process of transition.

For, the contemplation of filing for Federal Disability Retirement means the formal beginning of the transition of one type of daily living, with a transformation into a completely different set of paradigms of daily life.

This is often the hardest part of the entire process.  It is hard enough financially and medically to deal with many of the changes.  One way in which to deal with such changes and the difficult period of transition, is to take an affirmative view of things when beginning the process of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS — to begin the process on your own terms, by speaking with an attorney for guidance and advice, and by refusing to allow circumstances under the control of others — especially your own agency — to dictate the time, terms, and conditions of this major life change.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire