Obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management is a “process” as opposed to an entitlement, and this distinction has been variously explained and expanded upon in previous blogs and articles.
But the term “process” also needs to be applied in two different ways — it is a process applied as an administrative issue involving the Office of Personnel Management, but moreover, it should remain so for the individual Federal or Postal worker who has worked so hard to obtain the Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. By this, is meant that, just because the Federal or Postal worker has secured an approval from the Office of Personnel Management, does not (and should not) mean that the “process” ends for the Federal or Postal employee.
Obtaining the Federal Disability Retirement annuity is one part of the process; once secured, some simple steps should be set in place, such that the Federal Disability Retirement benefit is “secured” and “protected” for the future.
Thus, the continuation of the process should minimally and necessarily include: Keeping in contact with one’s treating doctor or doctors; making sure that any outside employment adheres to the 80% rule for earned income; maintaining an ability to justify the conceptual distinction between any job acquired after one’s Federal Service and the job previously performed; being prepared to respond to OPM’s Medical Questionnaire in the event that one is selected to do so; and other preemptive measures.
Surprises and emergencies occur when one fails to adequately plan for the future; future planning should be a daily maintenance project, taking only 5 minutes of one’s daily process (if that); and, after all, Poor Richard’s Almanac of 1732 was right in declaring, “A stitch in time saves nine”.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire