OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Temptation of More

It is similar to the proverbial truth of the “straw that broke the camel’s back”; or of the wise commoner who saved the king’s daughter from drowning, and who was offered a bounty of rice, to which he proposed the following: on each square of the chessboard, a doubling of the number from the previous square.  The temptation of the exponential factor is almost always unable to be resisted; that is the converse principle by which we live: by adding one (we are told), it will make our lives less complicated (so we believed).

Technology and the addition of each innovation would buy us more leisure time; work and stress would be lessened, because the salesman persuaded us that it would be so.  And so we have become accustomed, attuned, and trained to think in a linear, progressively upward trend; that the more we accumulate, the happier we will become, until one day the economics of aggregation become so burdensome that the weight of all of those additional threads of straw pile upon us with ever-growing pressures of daily living, and the salesman who sold that last gadget has walked away with the sack full of rice, content to have saved our lives (or laughing all the way to the bank with a knowing grin).

It is the conditioning of a cumulative-based society.  And, of course, when the burden is further exacerbated by a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to remain at the same purchasing power of economic viability, we are willing to sacrifice our health for the sake of more stuff.  For the Federal and Postal Workers who have dedicated their collective lives to furthering the mission of one’s agency, it is often a little more complex and complicated than just the economic issue; it is entangled with a sense of self-sacrifice, and a loyalty tending towards irrational discourse.  Perhaps this is a natural course for things; perhaps it is “the mission” which first tempted and attracted the Federal or Postal Worker to begin with.

In any event, Federal and Postal Workers fight to the end before contemplating filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and often to the detriment of one’s own health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there, however, for the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Whether under FERS or CSRS, it is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

While it is an annuity which will reduce the purchasing power of the Federal or Postal employee, the question which all Federal or Postal employees must ask is the following: What is the priority of one’s life, and at what point in our lives did we come to believe that acquiring things were more important than life itself?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Deception of Being on OWCP

“But I am on OWCP,” the caller insists.  “But that wasn’t the question.  The question is, are you still on the rolls of the agency?”  “But OWCP has been paying me for the last 2 years and…”

The deceptiveness of being on OWCP and receiving payment from Worker’s Comp results in a feeling of security and lulls one into a sense of comfort.  But receiving OWCP/FECA benefits does not mean that one cannot be separated from Federal Service.  Indeed, many people continue to remain on OWCP rolls, receive the non-taxable benefit, and believe that, because they are on OWCP, this somehow means that they have not be separated from Federal Service.  Beware.  Be aware.  While on OWCP, if the agency moves to separate you, that means that you have one (1) year from the date of separation to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Being “on” the rolls of OWCP does not stop, prevent, or otherwise interfere with the agency’s determination or right to separate the Federal or Postal employee in order to fill that position.  Then, of course, once a person is separated, and over a year passes, one can no longer file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, if over a year passes by, because under the law (what is called the “Statute of Limitations“), a Federal or Postal employee must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: OPM Disability & OWCP Disability (Continuing…)

A person who is on OWCP Disability payments — 3/4 of one’s gross pay if married or with dependents, or 2/3 of one’s gross pay if single without dependents – may well find the comfort of such payments and the security of such income to be relatively “safe”.  The old adage that one does not read the fine print during times of smooth sailing, and only begins to worry about issues when things go awry, is something to be kept in mind.  If a Federal or Postal employee is receiving OWCP Disability payments, and as such, one’s financial stability is somewhat assured because of it, that is precisely the time to be considering one’s future.  

OWCP Disability payments have a formal designation — it is called “Temporary Total Disability“.  The focus should be upon the first of the three terms — temporary.  It is not meant to be a permanent feature; OWCP is not a retirement system.  If placed on OWCP for over a year, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will often separate and remove a Federal or Postal employee from the employment rolls of the Agency.  Once removed, the Federal or Postal employee has only up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Once that year passes, you cannot file.  Years later, when OWCP & the Department of Labor stop those “Disability payments” for whatever reason, you cannot then start thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. You will be reminded that TTD stands for just that — Temporary Total Disability. It will then be too late.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire