OWCP & FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees

Can both be approved concurrently?  Is there any disadvantage in filing for one “as opposed” to another?  Do they “cross over” and impact one another?  Can you receive payments concurrently, or must you choose one over the other and, if one is chosen, does it “negate” or otherwise dismiss the other?

These are all practical questions which can come about if an injury or illness results from a workplace incident or caused by an occupational hazard.  First and foremost, it should be noted that the two “pockets” of compensatory resources are different in nature: OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM Disability Retirement is. OWCP is a compensatory resource created and established as a temporary measure (although there are many, many cases where an OWCP recipient stays on and receives compensation for decades and beyond) — as a means of allowing the Federal worker to receive treatment, recuperation and rehabilitation, with a view towards an eventual return to work.

The paradigm of a FERS Federal Disability Retirement, on the other hand, is just that: It is a retirement system — essentially, starting your retirement “early” because of a medical condition or injury resulting in one’s loss of capacity to continue to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  The latter (FERS Disability Retirement) does not have to possess any causal connection to the employment itself — in other words, the medical condition or injury does not have to be “occupationally related” in order for a Federal or Postal worker to become eligible for its benefits.

Remember, however, that under a FERS Disability Retirement, a Federal or Postal worker must file for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of being separated from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  The fact that a person has been “placed on the rolls of OWCP” does not excuse the 1-year rule for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For further information on the intersection between OWCP and FERS Disability Retirement, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both, and make your decision upon factual and legal information, and not from such sources as, “I heard from Joe that…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Return to Who I Am

We all take on different roles — whether as a parent, a husband, a wife; of assuming the role each day of a supervisor, a worker, a doctor, lawyer, etc. The underlying “substratum” of the “I” is presumed to remain the same throughout, but there may be a difference in the character posed, the personality posited or the tone, tonality and tenor of a voice, inflection, the way you talk, etc.

Perhaps, on a “Take your child to work day” you bring along your son or daughter and he or she watches you work in a particular role. Afterwards, does the child think to himself — or express him or herself to you or some third person — and say: “Gee, Mom [or Dad] sure acts differently at the office.”

Actors and actresses take on a “double-role” of sorts, don’t they? They not only have to take on the role of a character, whether in a play or a part in a filmed venue, but moreover, to “become” someone other than the person Who I Am.

Is there a difference between “Assuming the role of an Accountant” and “Playing the role of an Accountant”? Certainly, the former must have some credentials — perhaps as a C.P.A. or some “financial consultant certificate”, or some degree in accounting — whereas the latter only has to “act like” he or she has merited such a status. And the clients who come to the former — they are presumably “real” people whose financial problems or quandaries are “real” as well, whereas in the “acting’ role, they are not real, per se, but are also assuming the role of a part for the sake of an audience.

In either and both cases — whether of being “real” or “acting” in a role — the person to whom one “returns to” is someone who is the substratum: For the child, it is “Mommy” or “Daddy”; for the spouse, it is the husband or wife who “went-to-work-and-is-now-home”; and for the life-long friend from childhood days, it may be “Oh, that’s Dan who works as such-and-such, but who is good ol’ Dan always and forever.” But whatever role one assumes in life, whenever he or she returns to that person “Who I am”, does he or she ever return as the same person, or is there always a slight difference?

For, whatever the experience encountered in the “role” one plays, doesn’t it always change the person such that the person to whom one returns to can never be quite the same as before?

That is what happens with the Federal or Postal employee who needs to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits — Yes, the point of trying to overcome a medical condition is so that one can “return to who I am”; but in reality, that will never happen, precisely because the medical condition and the experience of enduring the medical condition has changed the person forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Forgotten Lives

Is it the memory that retains importance, or the fear that erasure leads to irrelevance that motivates us to prevent forgotten lives?  Does imprint upon history — whether in a footnote or an “honorable mention” in the epitaph of an unvisited tombstone — mean so much?  Does a reference in a Wikipedia listing count as a counter to a life lived in anonymity?

Most of us accept that we will not leave behind a greater imprint upon history’s rising trash heap of honorable mentions; and, except for dinner conversations amidst family gatherings, where someone might bring up a story that begins with, “Hey, remember when Uncle X was with us, the time when…” — we are left to memories forever fading and references served only by the ivy that grows over graveyards left unattended.

How important is it to maintain a semblance of relevance in a world where the 15-second timeframe of fame and one’s forever-statement of contribution to society keeps getting shortened because of the need to move on to the next and more titillating cause of excitement?

One wonders whether a person clings to doing something merely in order to avoid erasure from existence from the memories of those engaged.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue working in the chosen field in the Federal or Postal sector of employment, the issue of making a decision to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is often inextricably tied to the emotional upheaval of forgotten lives.

When one’s purpose and motivation for daily living is so intertwined with one’s career, work and the daily relevance of a mission yet to be accomplished, it is a difficult step to take, to recognize that one’s contribution to society may be coming to an end, resulting in forgotten lives and erasure from relevance.

But always remember that priorities must always be assigned, and the priority of one’s health comes before any fear of an honorable mention in a Wikipedia footnote, and just as there is life after a career with the Federal government, so it is also true that history is replete with the unnamed and unmentioned contributions of forgotten lives forever extinguished.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire