Federal Disability Retirement Pros and Cons

Federal employees and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the seriousness of the medical condition begins to impact the ability and capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, must take a pragmatic, blunt assessment of one’s future — taking into account all of the factors necessary in order to make a proper decision.

For, in the end, the choices are starkly limited: Stay at one’s job (often not even a real choice, given that the medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job has forced the question itself to be asked); resign and walk away with nothing, with a deferred retirement at age 65 (again, not a realistic choice, and one which should not be considered, but in the universe of options, it is the non-choice of choices); file for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (this is, obviously, the most viable of the three alternatives).

One can weigh the pros and cons of filing or not filing: the daunting administrative and bureaucratic process which must be faced; the potential for reduced income; the loss of camaraderie enjoyed for these many years; the cutting short of projects and mission essentials labored upon for so long; and a multitude of similar changes. But in the end, all pros and cons must face in the same direction, and point to the inevitable game-changer: one’s medical condition, and the impact which it has upon one’s ability, inability, capacity, or lack thereof, in performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.

At the North Pole, all directions point south; for the injured Federal employee or the Postal worker with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the compass pointing to the need to file for Federal Medical Retirement is the direction mandated by circumstances, and not necessarily by whether the pros win out over the cons.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: OWCP Dilemma

Benefits received through FECA (Federal Employees’ Compensation Act), administered through the Department of Labor and otherwise known under the acronym of OWCP, provide for temporary total disability compensation during the time that a Federal or Postal employee is injured and is unable to go back to one’s former job.

It pays well.  The problem, often, however, is that it pays well enough just to maintain a person to prevent him or her from drowning.  This dilemma is highlighted by the fact that a Federal or Postal employee who is receiving OWCP benefits (scheduled awards excepted) is unable to work at a job (with some exceptions regarding a person who had already been employed at a second job when injured at his primary vocation) or receive additional earned income.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, on the other hand, whether under FERS or CSRS, allows for earned income up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

While the Federal or Postal worker is allowed to concurrently file for, and get approved, both Federal OWCP benefits as well as FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement benefits, if both are approved, you must choose between one or the other approved benefit, and allow the unchosen one to remain inactive.

While FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement benefits, filed and obtained through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, pays less than OWCP benefits, it is the added advantage of being able to work at another vocation which makes it more attractive.

It is like the difference between a shipwrecked victim who can hang onto a small floating device as opposed to a raft with oars; while the former allows for survival, it is the latter which will ultimately take one to the destination of final fruition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire