Tag Archives: FERS rules for Federal Disability Retirement

The Agency’s Attempt

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of “accommodations” will necessarily surface, if only because the Agency must complete SF 3112D — the Form which is entitled, “Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts” (which bureaucrat came up with that title?).

Agencies will often choose the wrong box to check because they will either misread the choices or misunderstand what the statements mean.  For instance, in the third choice of Question 4, it states, “Yes, describe below the accommodation efforts made, attach supporting documentation and provide narrative analysis of any unsuccessful accommodation efforts.”  The problem with the choice itself is that the entire concept of “accommodations” has been clarified, modified, and thoroughly discussed in cases which have been brought before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and such court opinions have been issued subsequent to the original meaning of the term when the Standard Form was first issued.

But when the Agency completes the form, they will often answer the question in terms of “allowing for liberal use of sick leave” or “letting the employee refrain from doing X, Y or Z”, etc.  But allowing for temporary, light duty work does not constitute a “legal accommodation“, and thus does not go to the requested information.  In fact, the loosely-used term of “accommodation” is actually no accommodation at all.

What to do about it when it happens?  One must be discreet in how to approach it.  For most cases, the agency’s lack of understanding will have no impact at all, and it should not be responded to.  In other instances…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

Materials and information on this blog are provided for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and do not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice and should not be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice.  For more specific information, or to discuss the specifics of your case, you may contact the author for a free, first-time phone consultation.

The Unresponsive Agency

The complaints abound; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is still way behind on its evaluation, review and decision-making process for all characters of retirements, disability retirements included. And now with all of the pressure to become more “efficient” under this current Administration, I am receiving reports from multiple sources that OPM is denying more and more FERS Disability Retirement applications.

It is a given that filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must necessarily have an expectation of a time-consuming administrative process, precisely because of the encounter with a Federal bureaucracy.

At each step of the way, OPM has become more and more unresponsive, and with new cases coming in, the length of time at every stage, and “between” stages, has been extended. The process itself contains inherent milestones of delay: from filing the entire disability retirement application to a facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which merely annotates the receipt of the case and inputs the case into the computer system; to thereafter sending the disability retirement application, with all of its evidentiary submissions and attachments down to Washington, D.C., where it must first await assignment to a caseworker; then, upon assignment, for the caseworker to even get to the applicant’s submission for review and evaluation. Then, of course, there is the possibility that the entire packet will be selected to be sent out for review by a contract doctor.

The delays are beyond the control of the applicant, his or her FERS Disability Retirement attorney, or the Federal agency for whom the applicant worked. It is, ultimately, an administrative process which can be tedious, time-consuming, and fraught with delays and extended periods of silence.

Patience may well be a virtue, but the unresponsive manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has handled the delays, fails to engender much confidence in a system which should be most responsive to those in greater need.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

Any articles viewed on this blog are intended to provide information only and are not intended to be legal advice.  As laws are always in a state of change, we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information.  For current updates of laws, rules, the current proposal for the elimination or replacing of the Office of Personnel Management, and to get a personalized assessment of your individual disability claim, please contact the author for a free first-time consultation.

OWCP and FERS Disability Future Reviews

There are horror stories: of people on “disability” who are watched and video-taped, and after having 500 hours of taping, it is edited to show that, within a 2-minute period, it is revealed that you can indeed perform physical feats which your medical disability should restrict.

As an attorney who receives daily inquiries concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, people relate such fears to me.  However, I am quick to remind such callers on two (2) matters: First, such stories relate almost exclusively to Federal OWCP cases, which have nothing to do with FERS Disability Retirement, and Second, the people I represent have legitimate medical conditions which impact and prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

There is also an additional Third element in the issue, FERS Disability Retirement annuitants are allowed, under the law, to go out and get another job, and to work and make up to 80% of what his or her former position currently pays.

Now, obviously, any such job should be essentially different, in many ways, from the former job.  But the point is that the FERS Disability Retirement is intimately wedded to a particular job, and the inability to perform the essential elements of that particular job.  That is where the difference lies between FERS Disability Retirement rules and OWCP cases — the former allows one to continue to remain productive in the workplace; the other does not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Attorney

Please note that the information that appears in this article is copyrighted.  Originally written by Attorney Robert R. McGill, it has been more recently updated by the webmaster.  This article has been previously published in other OPM Disability Retirement blogs.