Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Where to Begin

Many phone calls admit defeat before the process begins, and this, because the complex process itself is an obstacle of daunting proportions, preventing the Federal or Postal employee from envisioning a time in the future when a Federal Disability Retirement application will have been approved.  

Does a defeatist attitude impact a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Does the U.S. Office of Personnel Management “read into” a Federal Disability Retirement application, somewhat like a mental telepathist, and “know” that the Federal or Postal employee expects a denial? No.  But certainly the approach of how one compiles the evidence, guides the Office of Personnel Management in the roadmap of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application (by narrating a cover letter which is broad in scope, coherent in logical structure, and specific in discussing the attachments and their relevance, etc.), and provides a justifying legal basis for granting an approval — in a comprehensive compendium which provides a foundation to OPM to approve the case — is how one averts a defeatist attitude, and instead replaces it with a confident compilation of a catalogue of clarity (yes, one can get carried away with engaging in alliteration).

Remember that, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the important thing is to always begin with clarity; then, sift through and between that which is central as opposed to peripheral; and in the end, don’t act like an amateur — let the professionals handle it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Often, the Option Was Always Open

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question on Standard Form 3112A which asks for the “approximate date” of when a Federal or Postal employee became disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job can sometimes be rather tricky.

For, quite often, it is not the medical condition itself which drives a Federal or Postal employee to file for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity; rather, it may be external circumstances entirely foreign to the medical condition itself (i.e., actions of the Supervisor, the Agency; changes in work schedules; reinstating other assignments and positional requirements, etc.).

In many cases, the fact is that the Federal or Postal worker may have been eligible to apply for, and successfully obtain, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity for several years — it is just that he or she never exercised the option or right to do so, because the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service allowed for light duty, temporary duty assignments, modified duties, etc. — in other words, a loose network of ad hoc duties aggregately termed as an “accommodation”, but clearly not what would constitute a legally-sufficient accommodation under the law and under the Bracey definition.  But the option to exercise the eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application may have been there for many years, and so the question on SF 3112A may actually require a response indicating many years and months prior to the completion and dating of the form itself.

The fact that a medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job is the qualifying factor in a Federal Disability Retirement application; when to exercise the option to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is a separate issue; and as to the latter, the compelling force may well be issues external to a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire