Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the Office of Personnel Management is an independent benefit from an independent agency. However, there may be some intersecting features which are important to understand, prior to beginning the process.
A FERS Disability Retirement annuity has an “off-set” feature with certain other federal annuities, by statutory mandate and direction, but not with certain others. For instance, there is a coordinating offset with Social Security Disability (under FERS), and an election must be made between OWCP Temporary Total Disability payments and Federal Disability Retirement benefits (except for scheduled awards). On the other hand, there is no offset between a Federal Disability Retirement annuity and VA Disability payments.
In making a decision as to whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, each Federal and Postal employee should be fully informed as to the offsets with other Federal benefits and payments, as well as whether there are limits and restrictions as to the amount of other “earned income” a person may be allowed to make.
The importance of finding out which benefits are fully or partially offset is important in making a final decision as to whether it is financially feasible to proceed in preparing, formulating and filing a FERS Disability Retirement application. Of course, in the end, it is usually a medical decision which is paramount — out of necessity, and not out of choice– as opposed to a financial one. However, it is nevertheless important to know what is on the other side of the cave, before one enters it to begin with.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
OPM Disability Lawyer
There are many things in the long process of getting a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, which are purely “discretionary”, based upon one’s experience, sense of a case, an ear to listening to a client, and based upon a compendium of factors, facts and circumstances, to come up with the “best” decision on a particular issue. A person who tries to go through the process alone, without the ear, mind, experience or judgment of an attorney who knows the process governing Federal Disability Retirement has to make such discretionary decisions without the benefit of past experiences.
Such decisions can range from small issues of: how and when a treating doctor should be approached in the request for a medical narrative; how much guidance the doctor would need or want in preparing a medical narrative report; when and how to inform the agency of the pending decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, etc.; to the larger decisions, such as which medical conditions and reports to include in the final packet to be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management; and many other such discretionary decisions. Yet, when grouped together, the complex interactions of the multiple “discretionary judgments” can often make or break a case.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Benefits Lawyer
||Filing for FERS Disability Retirement is not a decision that should be made lightly. Whatever your circumstances are, consider every aspect of the application, the process, and your individual situation before making a final decision. Set up an appointment over the phone with Attorney McGill to review your case so that he can help you to assess your chances of getting approved. It’s easy, convenient and free for first-time consultations.
Federal and Postal workers who are inquiring about filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits often lack any context as to his or her own particular situation, in relation to the greater Federal and Postal workforce. Let me elaborate: a Federal or Postal employee who suffers from chronic and intractable Major Depression, despite being placed on various psychotropic medications, and having undergone psychotherapeutic intervention, and (in more serious cases) hospitalization for intensive treatment — often believe that his or her “situation” is unique, isolated, and rare. It is not.
When an individual suffers from Major Depression, it is common to feel isolated, as if the particular psychiatric disorder is unlike other medical conditions (e.g., physical medical conditions which can be ascertained by an MRI or other diagnostic tools). This is part of the very medical condition itself — of feeling isolated and trapped, and unable to escape from one’s own plight.
Indeed, Federal and Postal employees who suffer from Major Depression often ask me the “how many” question — how many people do you represent who suffer from Major Depression, as if numbers correlate to security. While I am very protective of client confidentiality and information related to my clients, it can safely be said that a “great many” Federal and Postal employees suffer from Major Depression, that it is not uncommon, that your co-worker sitting beside you may suffer from it, and that such sufferers work hard to hide it.
Further, the success in filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS is no less than any other medical condition. Thus, for those who suffer from Major Depression and are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits: you are definitely not alone.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal & Postal Disability Lawyer
||All the articles that appear in this publication are copyrighted. Also, they may or may not have been previously published in other Federal Disability Retirement websites owned by the author or in other third-party publications.
Often, the generic designation of “stress” is the underlying medical condition; other medical conditions can exist, and perhaps are exacerbated by the underlying condition of “stress” — or, at least that is the suspicion, both by the Federal or Postal worker who is suffering from such conditions, and (hopefully) understood by the treating medical doctor.
While failing to have direct causal linkage, the situation often arises where the chronic medical condition may have periods of remission, followed by severe episodes of unrelenting exacerbations. The problem with such medical conditions in preparing, formulating and filing a FERS Disability Retirement application, is that the medical condition must prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and such a condition must last for a period of 12 months or more.
Medical conditions which “wax and wane” (OPM’s favorite description of Fibromyalgia) and are “not severe enough to preclude an individual from the workplace altogether” (another of OPM’s favorite descriptive rationalizations for denying a Federal Disability Retirement application — which is legally inconsequential and a mis-statement of the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement) — present a special challenge in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application. However, even a challenge such as “stress” and a secondary medical condition which is exacerbated for episodic periods, is one which can be overcome, and successfully overcome.
The fact is that the focus is often misplaced. Instead of asking the doctor to focus upon each individual medical condition, it is the wiser route to have the doctor discuss all medical conditions in their totality, and show that the complex interaction of the primary and secondary medical conditions together prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer
Please notice that this and other articles may or may not have been previously published in the author’s other websites such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog, the FERS Disability Retirement website, or the Postal Service Disability Retirement blog.