Monthly Archives: August 2011

Am I Eligible for OPM Disability Retirement?

This is a major question that federal employees ask themselves. Here are the basic guidelines to understanding eligibility:

Under FERS- at least 18 months of credible service as a career employee.

Under CSRS – at least 5 years of credible service as a career employee.

That is all that is required to file for a federal disability retirement. Your medical conditions and various conditions of employment will factor into the qualification process, but eligibility is fairly simple. Learn more about OPM disability at FederalDisability.com

If you feel overwhelmed by the whole process, it may be wise to seek counsel from an attorney who has experience with federal employee benefits. Contact us for a free consultation to find out what may be available to you.

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Federal Disability Retirement: Is Modified Duty Accommodation?

Modified duty can be very helpful to keep a federal employee working during an uncertain time in their career.  However, many federal employees do not know how much “protection” it provides.

If a federal employee is working a modified duty assignment, they could lose many of the normal features of employment including job security. Modified duty is given at the discretion of the supervisor and can be taken away without notice.

Federal employees who are considering applying for Federal Disability Retirement also often have questions about what types of accommodation efforts count.  A modified duty assignment does not count as a substitute for a bid assignment.

Harris Federal

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Don’t let your year go by

If you are a career federal employee who has an injury or illness that is causing  you to be less than fully successful at any major element of your job and have been separated from service, please read this! If one calendar year passes after your separation, you cannot go back and file for federal disability retirement.

The only exception is mental incompetency. If you are on OWCP benefits, that does not expand your deadline. Therefore, if you are off of work due to your medical condition and the doctors do not believe that you will be able to return to full duty within the next calendar year, it is time to start evaluating what a disability retirement might mean for you.

Please visit FederalDisability.com or the Harris Federal website to learn more about how to plan for your future and secure the financial stability you and your family need.

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You Cannot Re-Apply for Federal Disability Retirement After the MSPB Denied Your First Application in a Final Decision

Mr. D worked for the U.S. Postal Service for a number of years. Unfortunately, he sustained a back injury one day while working. He filed for both OWCP Federal Workers Compensation benefits and Federal Disability Retirement. Both the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) ultimately denied his application for Federal Disability Retirement. Around the same time as the denial, Mr. D was removed from his position for failure to comply with agency instructions.

Several years later, Mr. D finally received compensation for his back injury from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). Two years after that, he filed an application for immediate retirement. His application was denied by the OPM because he did not meet the age and service requirements. Mr. Daniel appealed the decision. Oddly enough, in his appeal Mr. Daniel argued that he was also currently eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of the finding by OWCP.

The administrative judge was extremely unimpressed with Mr. D’s arguments. Mr. D was blatantly ineligible for immediate retirement for the reasons given by the OPM. Furthermore, Mr. D’s assertion that he should be awarded Federal Disability Retirement was completely unfounded. To begin with, his claim was over 6 years past the deadline for applying for Federal Disability Retirement, since he had been terminated from his job for so long. Also, findings by the OWCP have no binding effect over MSPB or OPM. It should be considered when making a decision, but an award of Workers’ Compensation Benefits will not automatically guarantee an award of Federal Disability Retirement. Most importantly, the issue of Mr. D’s entitlement to Federal disability Retirement benefits had already been decided in his fist application. The rule of res judicata clearly applied since the matter had already been dealt with and issued a final decision.

On appeal to the MSPB once more, Mr. D was denied a final time. The MSPB indorsed all of the administrative judge’s findings. It reiterated the fact that once a final decision has been given, arguing the same point years later will do nothing because of res judicata. This case teaches us that the MSPB’s final decision is binding. Filing another application years later will not work.

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Federal Disability Retirement: A Success Story

Our client was a 40 year old Customs and Border Protection Officer for the Department of Homeland Security in Arizona.  The year before he applied for Federal Disability Retirement, he sustained a work related knee injury and a lower back injury. He had an approved Federal Workers Compensation OWCP claim.

While he was treated with therapy and steroid injections, his pain remained. He was diagnosed with disc spur complex resulting in stenosis and degenerative disc disease as well as lumbar radiculitis.

His range of motion and tolerance for prolonged periods of sitting or standing was severely limited. Not only could he not perform his job duties, he also could no longer play with his 3 young children or sit through his oldest son’s ball games.

Our office was successful in winning his FERS Federal Disability Retirement claim!

Harris Federal

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