Because filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a process which may take 6 – 8 months, and sometimes longer, there is always the question of what the Agency will do during this time. Of course, a Federal or Postal employee will often continue to work for as long as possible, and for as many days during each enduring week as possible, in order to survive economically during the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application. The medical condition itself, however, will often dictate the feasibility of attempting to continue to work.
During this period, a Federal or Postal employee may have limited options — especially when Sick Leave and Annual Leave have been exhausted. Protection by filing under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will accord temporary protection and a buffer against a demanding agency. A further request to be placed on LWOP beyond the 12 weeks which FMLA will allow for, will often be granted at the discretion of the Agency.
If an agency places one in AWOL status, such an action by the Agency should be countered with documentation from one’s doctor which justifies the continued absence of the Federal or Postal employee. Unfortunately, there is often no clear answer to the question, “What if my agency fails to cooperate while I am filing for Federal Disability Retirement?” There are only responsive steps to take in order to protect the ultimate goal — that of obtaining an approval from the Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire