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Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Automatic Pilot

Then there is the story of the individual who was driving an RV, set the acceleration mechanism on “auto”, and left the driver’s seat to go and make some coffee.  Obviously, one need not have too great an imagination as to what happened next.

“Auto pilot” is a concept which one considers in the context of comfort and alleviation of human effort; by allowing for machines and artificial intelligence to dominate and take over, such technological advances allow for human beings to engage in other pursuits.  The problem with such a perspective, however, is that most people go through life on auto-pilot to begin with; and allowing for machines and smart-technology to engage in human action merely perpetuates further thoughtless action.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one will encounter many steps and stages of the phenomena identified as “auto-pilot” — both at the Agency level, as well as the case-worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Whether because of being overworked, or after years of mundane administrative tasks which dull the intellectual capacities of the human brain, it is often difficult to “jolt” the worker into focusing upon one’s particular Federal Disability Retirement application.  While one can argue that, “If you have seen one, you have seen them all”, it is important to acknowledge that one’s own Federal Disability Retirement application is unique precisely because each medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties is identifiably singular in relevance and importance, and as such, “shaking up” the sleeping giant of auto-pilot is crucial in getting a Medical Disability Retirement claim to successful completion and approval.

To do this, it is wise to make certain that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is well-formulated, streamlined, and presented in a coherent, comprehensible whole.  That way, if one encounters an auto-pilot, it will not end up like the driver of the RV and result in a vehicle driving over the proverbial cliff.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Clarifying Misconceptions

Information is interesting.  But not all interesting information is useful.  And, further, not all information, even if interesting and (potentially) useful, is accurate.  Ultimately, in order for information to be of practical use, it must be accurate, useful, and purpose-related.  Thus, when inaccurate (partial or complete) information is placed into the public domain, it often becomes useless, but remains interesting to the extent that people continue to rely upon such information.

In filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits under CSRS or FERS, it is important to obtain, process, and apply useful and accurate information.  Two sets of basic information need to be clarified:  First, many Postal and Federal employees have been confused about SSDI and its impact upon Federal Disability Retirement and the application process in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS (CSRS exempted because an SSDI receipt is not necessary).  Showing a receipt for having filed an SSDI application is all that is needed.  An approval is not necessary; and, indeed, for most Federal and Postal employees, one will not ordinarily qualify for SSDI precisely because it has a higher standard to be eligible.

Further, a sequential showing is NOT necessary — i.e., one does not have to first file for SSDI in order to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits.  All that is necessary, from OPM’s perspective, is that at the time of an approval of a Federal or Postal Employee Disability Retirement application under the FERS system, a Federal employee must show a receipt showing that one has filed for SSDI benefits.

The Second informational error to be corrected:  While somewhat redundant based upon the first, a Federal or Postal employee does NOT have to be approved for SSDI in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under the FERS retirement system.  That would be pointless and illogical, if one stops and thinks about it.  Again, all that is necessary is that one files, and one shows a receipt at the time of an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application under the FERS system.

Yes, this is the information age; but it still comes down to a human being who places the information into the public domain, and the


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: What Others Said

Often, during a consultation with a Federal or Postal employee, the issue comes up about what “X said” about “Y-issue”.  Information is plentiful, and especially in this age of the internet, the plethora of information, abundant in volume and scope, can seemingly provide the generic and universally appreciated mass of unidentifiable vacuity called, “Information“.

The problem is no longer the lack of information; rather, the problem is to be able to discern the difference between “useful information”, “relevant information,” “effective information,” and “peripheral information”.  In preparing, formulating, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to make the distinctions.

However, in this world of unlimited sources of information, a person who first approaches a subject — especially a subject involving legal consequences such as Federal Disability Retirement law — may have a difficult time in distinguishing between the various “types” of information.

Further, it is important to recognize the “source” of information — Who said it?  Where did it come from?  Is there statutory authority to back it up?  Is the source reliable?

These latter questions must also be asked, and the way to determine the credibility and reliability of information is often to take some time and cross-check information from various sources, and decipher as to whether a particular source provides a consistency of information which can be trusted.

When it comes to preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, where one’s future may depend upon the information gathered, the Federal employee or Postal worker would be wise to “check out the source” before proceeding forth.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire