The Genotype-phenotype Distinction and Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal and Postal Employees

The distinction is important in the study of genetics, where the genotype represents the entirety of one’s hereditary information contained in one’s DNA, whereas the phenotype represents the manifestation of that genetic heredity received and retained by any given individual. In simple terms, it is the inner/outer distinction, or in Aristotelian terms, the substance/accident representation, or further, in Platonic characterization, the form/appearance description of the world. It provides for a fascinating study of the theory of evolution, the plasticity and adaptability of a species, and the capacity of survivability within the greater context of environmental pressures and influences.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the concept of the genotype-phenotype distinction is peripherally interesting to understand, in the following way: The internal struggles eviscerating one’s capacity to perform the Federal or Postal job, will sometimes remain unobtrusive and lacking of evidence by all appearances.

The “phenotype” of a Federal Disability Retirement case may be represented by good performance reviews, lack of awareness by one’s supervisor, and an agency which fails to recognize the struggling Federal or Postal employee. The “genotype” is often the “inner” struggle, characterized by profound fatigue (how does one quantify cumulative exhaustion?), chronic pain (if only pain were color-coded, where white is on the lower spectrum and red is at the extreme end), the where the Federal or Postal employee pushes one’s self to the limit of absurdity until one is ready to collapse in an effort to perform the essential functions of one’s job.

The problem of appearance-versus-substance, or that which is seen as opposed to the hidden reality of a thing, is not a new or unique one. In the context of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, and whether the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make clear and bring to the surface that which is unrevealed, and that will normally come about through generating an excellent medical report from one’s treating doctor.

Ultimately, a Federal Disability Retirement application is based upon the medical opinion of one’s treating doctor, and the “genotype” of an effective Federal Retirement application must comply with the requirements of the law, the criteria for eligibility, and the expression of that genotype into a coherent representation in the form of a “phenotype” in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability application, though OPM, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Social Security Factor on the FERS Disability Retirement Claim

For the FERS employee, whether as a Federal, non-Postal employee, or as a Postal worker, who intends to file for Federal Disability Retirements benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the administrative process of filing for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) is a bureaucratic involvement and, by some accounts from Human Resource Offices of various Federal agencies, there is the view that the Federal Retirement application cannot be process by OPM unless and until SSDI is also filed.  This is not true.

While SSDI must be filed, and a receipt of such filing shown to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the purpose of such filing from the standpoint of OPM is not to compare or evaluate the enhanced eligibility status of a FERS disability retirement applicant by seeing whether or not the Social Security Administration will approve or disapprove one’s claim (that would be too logical, inasmuch as there is a higher legal standard of essentially “total disability” under SSDI, and so an approval by Social Security Disability standards should then automatically invite approval by OPM) — although, under Trevan v. OPM, there is certainly a basis to invite such a legal analysis.

No; the only reason why OPM wants to see a receipt of an SSDI filing, is merely for purposes of cross-checking whether or not a monetary offset should be applied if both SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement annuities are concurrently paid.  And, even then, it is often the case that the 100% offset in the concurrent receipt of payments from an OPM Disability annuity and SSDI in the first year, and the subsequent years of 60% offset of payments, will not be applied, and OPM will come back years later demanding the refund of the overpayments resulting from the failure of OPM applying the offset.

Most Federal employees and Postal workers who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will continue to either work to a limited extent, or at least remain on the rolls of their Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service during the long waiting time during the process of filing for Federal Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and, as such, there will be an automatic denial from the Social Security Administration because of income considerations for the year in question, etc.

The simplest solution to Human Resource Offices demanding and insisting that SSDI must be filed for before an OPM Disability Retirement application is processed and forwarded to Boyers, PA, is to file online, get a receipt, and be done with it. Then, if OPM requests that the applicant file again at a later date to determine if a denial from SSDI was truly based upon one’s disability (or lack thereof), or because of income considerations, then that can be done with greater effort after one has received a Medical Disability approval from OPM.

This is a world of bureaucracies, and the rules, however lacking of a rational foundation, needs to be adhered to and complied with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire