Federal Disability Retirement: What Are You Trying to Prove?

The word “refrain” is an interesting one for its multifarious definitions — from restraining one’s self (a physical act of self-control) to identifying a phrase or group of phrases which are repeated throughout a verse, song, etc., the application of the word is useful by its very differences.  And, indeed, it is the differences between a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, from the entire administrative process of filing for Social Security Disability benefits, or obtaining a higher disability rating from the Veterans Administration, or even attempting to establish causality in a Federal OWCP, Department of Labor case — which makes all the difference.

Such a tautology and redundancy, while rather puzzling, is what must be kept in mind when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is indeed the differences which make for the difference.  Thus, as to the refrain, “What are you trying to prove?”, goes to the very heart and essence of the differences.  That which one is trying to prove strikes at the essence of how you will approach a Federal Disability Retirement case, distinctly and differently from what you are trying to prove for an increased VA rating, OWCP case or a Social Security Disability case.

Furthermore, normally the “shotgun” approach will not be the most effective — i.e., that approach of shooting at everything and in every direction and hoping that you will somehow hit the mark.  Federal Disability Retirement requires certain specific elements to prove, different and distinct from OWCP, VA or SSDI, and it is indeed that which one needs to prove, which will make all the difference in a case.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Collateral Impact

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there is the question of whether collateral or parallel venues of disability benefits can be applied for; whether there is a conflict between such “other” filings; and further, what impact each of the alternative sources have on each other.  

Such other venues of applied benefits could include the Office of Worker’s Compensation, under the Federal Employees Compensation Act/Department of Labor (OWCP/FECA/DOL); Social Security Disability; Unemployment compensation; VA Disability benefits, private disability policies, etc.

As a general rule, there is no reason why all of such benefits should not be applied for concurrently.  Is there a conflict between each?  By the term, “conflict”, would imply something negative or improper in the mere filing.  To that superficial question (and by “superficial” is merely meant an initial, fundamental question, and not as to the depth of any complexity), the answer is a simple “no”.  There is nothing improper in filing for multiple and concurrent benefits, so long as the questions asked by each benefit/entity is answered honestly and truthfully.  

As for “impact” between one or the other, some benefits have exclusive compensation (OWCP & FERS or CSRS disability annuities cannot be paid at the same time), some have offsetting benefits (FERS & SSDI offset each other); some have no impact on each other at all (VA benefits & Federal Disability Retirement benefits can be received concurrently, for example), while still others depend upon the language of the contract (e.g., private disability policies).  

A still further question concerns whether or not medical reports and benefit determinations from one source can impact, and in what way, another source.  That subject will be discussed in another blog.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire