In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must file within one (1) year of being “separated from service”. That is what is often referred to as the “statute of limitations” — a limit placed upon the ability of a Federal or Postal worker to file for a claim, based upon pragmatic policies of making sure that a claim is “recent” enough to allow for evidence which is neither stale nor outdated.
There is sometimes a level of confusion as to what it means to be “separated from service”, and it often appears that such confusion arises from mixing issues with other administrative claims. Thus, OWCP/FECA has its own sets of rules; Social Security has its own set of rules, etc. For Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, to be “separated from service” and thus to trigger the 1-year timeframe, means that a Federal or Postal worker is terminated, taken off the rolls, and an SF 50 and PS Form 50 needs to be issued showing that a person has been effectively separated from Federal Service.
For Postal Workers, a good indication that this action has been effectuated is when one stops received the “0”-balance paystubs. Further, one must remember that, once separated from the Agency, after 31 days or more of such separation, any Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed directly with the Office of Personnel Management. Filing with the Agency after the 31 day period and waiting for them to process the case, and relying upon them to forward it to OPM may result in a case simply sitting on someone’s desk…until the year has run out.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire