Federal and Postal employees sign onto a “compensation package” when they become employees of the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service. Regardless of which agency of the Federal Government an individual works for, an employee of the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service is under one of two basic systems: FERS – an acronym for “Federal Employees Retirement Systems” – essentially those employees first hired after December 31, 1983; or CSRS – standing for “Civil Service Retirement System” — those pre-1983 employees. There are some intertwining “cross-overs”, termed as “CSRS Offset”, etc., but for our purposes in discussing Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is sufficient to simply identify the two main generic designations.
Whether under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS offset, every Federal and Postal employee has multiple benefits when becoming an employee of a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service: salary; health insurance options; life insurance options; Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions; FECA (Federal Employees’ Compensation Act) rights – essentially, the Federal Form of Worker’s Compensation; and Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.
Of course, when an individual first becomes employed by the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service, it is rare that one takes much notice about the latter two “benefits” as part of the total compensation package. For, how many employees would ask their potential employers about the laws governing employee benefits available if injured on the job, or more rarely, benefits allowable if a person becomes medically disabled from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?
It becomes of great importance, however, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform the job that one became employed for, with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service. In such a case, what one doesn’t know, can indeed hurt you. Since you only have one (1) year from time you are separated from Federal Service to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is important to know your rights. Furthermore, because it is not your agency which determines whether or not you are eligible for Federal Disability, but rather the Office of Personnel Management who reviews and determines whether or not you are approved or disapproved, it is important to have the proper legal representation to secure your financial future.
There are multiple issues governing the preparation and submission of a Federal Disability Retirement Application, including: completion of the proper and necessary Standard Forms; the gathering of the proper medical documentation in order to meet the legal eligibility criteria and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you are eligible; citation of the proper legal authorities in order to persuade the Office of Personnel Management that you meet the necessary criteria; and overcoming any objections concerning “reasonable accommodations” that the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service often alleges, and which can create one of multiple stumbling blocks in the path to obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.