Disability Retirement for U.S. Federal Workers: The Second Bite at the Apple

Rarely in life does one have a second chance; in important matters, an opportunity will often present itself, and depending upon the option chosen, one must live with the consequences of such a choice, or live the remainder of one’s life with grumblings of quiet regret and remorse.

In the legal arena, the process of what the public views as “endless appeals and procedural maneuvers” allows for the litigant to have multiple chances, and not just a “second bite at the apple”, but often a third, fourth…and seemingly infinite opportunities.

For Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are multiple chances at filing for and obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The only obstacle is if the Statute of Limitations has come and gone — the filing deadline of 1 year from the date of separation from Federal Service.  Even that hurdle contains some exceptions — as in a Federal or Postal employee being deemed incompetent by a psychiatrist to file within the timeframe.

For those who have filed and been denied, and for some reason failed to file for Reconsideration or an appeal to the MSPB — you can refile.  For those who filed and were denied at every level — you can refile. Does OPM still keep your previous file?  Yes. Will they review your old file along with the new filing?  Yes.  But if the new filing is stronger and better prepared, you stand the same chance as a Federal or Postal employee who has just submitted an initial application.

Rarely does one get a second bite at the apple; fortunately, under our system of legal procedures, the taste of the fruit is within reach for another time, and often the taste is more satisfying than the first encounter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Misinformation Leading to Self-defeating Actions

The “I was told” phenomenon is pervasive in our society, where information is plentiful, and more dangerously, where the dissemination of such information, at no cost to the recipient (except for detrimental consequences resulting from reliance upon the purveyor of such vast knowledge of unsolicited tidbits), is promulgated without discretion or discriminating tastes.

It is the one aspect, of course, in which George Orwell was perhaps mistaken; for, in his book, 1984, Orwell conveys the notion that it is the societal limitation of words which will lead to restriction of knowledge.  In the modern world, however, it has become the unfettered expansion of any and all information, which has had the collateral effect upon society of engendering dangerous ignorance.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to first obtain accurate information, then to determine the relevance and applicability of such information, then to act upon it.

The “I was told” phenomena should be ignored, as such nebulous sources of information, unless verifiable, should never be relied upon.  For example:  Having an active EEO matter does not extend the Statute of Limitations in being required to file a Federal Disability Retirement application within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.  And another: One does not need to, and should not, wait for Social Security to make a determination in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for OPM.

Remember always that the 1-year Statute of Limitations is a “hard” limitation; there are only a limited number of exceptional circumstances which can climb over that obstacle, and one should not try to test the strength or height of that wall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Refiling

For various reasons, it is necessary to refile a case.  Sometimes, an individual who has received a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, has allowed the 30-day time period to lapse, and therefore has lost the right to file for Reconsideration, or to file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

As long as the Federal or Postal employee who has allowed for such lapse has not been separated from Federal Service, or from the U.S. Postal Service, for more than one (1) year, such refiling is perfectly acceptable.  However, if a Federal or Postal employee who has been separated from Federal Service, has:  (A)  been separated from Federal Service for more than one (1) year, and (B) has allowed for a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to lapse for more than thirty (30) days, then such a Federal or Postal employee has forever lost his or her right to refile, precisely because the Statute of Limitations would preclude the Federal or Postal employee from refiling.

In determining whether or not to refile because the Federal or Postal employee still continues to retain the right to file again, the identical questions which one should ask in the original filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application would prevail:  Do I have a supportive medical doctor?  Does my medical condition prevent me from performing one or more of the essential elements of my job?  Will my doctor help me prove that I can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of my job?

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the questions for an original filing, or in refiling, remain the same; the only change is the time that lapses, making each of us a day older, but hopefully, that much wiser.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire