Periodic Medical Exams To Keep Your Disability Benefit
When we approve your application for disability retirement, we may determine that based on your medical condition you will periodically have to provide us with current medical information in order to continue receiving benefits. You are responsible for paying for any medical exams that are needed. If you do not fulfill the request for evidence of continuing disability, it is likely that your benefit payments could be suspended until your continuing eligibility is established.
Can I Speed Up The Process
Despite the length of time that a disability retirement application can take, there are ways to streamline the process.
The application packet is complex, requiring many forms, letters, and other documents.
Properly completing a well-organized application can help make OPMs review of your application quicker and easier, and is more likely to lead to approval.
In addition, we generally include a letter from our firm providing a legal analysis of your eligibility for FERS disability retirement which we have found to be very helpful as well.
Social Security Disability And Fers Disability Retirement
Beyond the failure of OPM to make cogent arguments in favor of a Federal Disability Retirement application, two areas which have previously been discussed involve the implication arguments of making a statement implying that it has some relevance and justification in denying your Federal Disability Retirement application. Thus, the statement, Your Social Security application was denied stated in a vacuum, may appear as merely an innocent statement of fact.
However, when placed strategically at the end of a Denial Letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in denying your Federal Disability Retirement application, implies that somehow, in some way, the denial of your Social Security filing is further justification in denying your Federal Disability Retirement application.
Again, just because OPM says so, doesnt make it so.
The reverse is, of course, true but OPM will not say so, even if it is so. Filing for Social Security Disability benefits is a requirement which must be satisfied sometime during the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS. Most people will be summarily rejected by Social Security because most people who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS are still employed, and the earnings-exceeding criteria under SSDI will automatically disqualify you.
Why? Because it makes sense.
Also Check: 100 Disabled Veteran Moving Assistance
Q: Can I Start The Process Even If I Dont Have A Doctors Letter Yet
A: A doctors letter that states your diagnosed medical disability and restrictions is imperative to your Federal Disability Retirement application. Which is why we recommend that you speak with your medical provider prior to starting your application, to ensure they will be able to provide the supporting documentation that is needed for your case.
What Is The Processing Time For Fers Disability Applications
November 2, 2022Federal Employment Law
Federal employees who are unable to work due to a medical condition might be eligible for disability retirement benefits under the federal governments Federal Employment Retirement System .
However, if you are seeking FERS benefits, you may be wondering, What is the FERS disability retirement processing time? After answering that, you may be wondering, Why is it taking so long? Is there a way to expedite the procedure?
While there are many nuances and pitfalls when it comes to seeking FERS benefits that could slow you down, this article will help to clear up some of the most common questions when it comes to FERS disability retirement processing time.
Recommended Reading: Definition Of Specific Learning Disability
Q: Does Being In Lwop Status And Collecting Benefits From Owcp Disqualify You From Submitting The Application For Federal Medical Retirement
A: Being put on LWOP status and receiving OWCP benefits can actually be used as supporting evidence for your case. It is important to keep in mind that you can not receive OWCP Federal Workers Compensation at the same time as Federal Disability Retirement. However, that does not mean that you cannot apply for Federal Disability Retirement. You can go through the entire process and put the benefit on hold until you go off OWCP Federal Workers Compensation. Then you will be able to automatically switch from receiving OWCP payments to receiving Federal Disability Retirement instead.
Calculating Your Fers Benefits
Determining how much your benefits should be under FERS is a complex calculation. Generally speaking, FERS will pay between 40 and 80% of your salary for the rest of your life. However, the specific amount you will receive will depend on several factors, including your age and years of service.
The amount of FERS benefits you receive will be calculated based on your high-3 average salary. The OPM will look to your highest three years of salary, typically the last three years before your disability. For those who have not worked for the federal government for three or more years, the OPM may consider all of your years of employment. Your high-3 average will then be used to calculate what percentage of your salary should be awarded in benefits.
For example, for those under 62, the first 12 months of benefits will be paid at 60% of your high-3 average, less any SSDI benefits they have received. After the first 12 months, FERS benefits will be paid at 40% of your high-3 average, less 60% of any SSDI benefits.
Recommended Reading: Companies That Hire People With Disabilities
Timeline Of Opm Process
You have one year from the date of disability to submit the required forms. If you are still employed or if it has been 31 days or less since you separated from service, you can complete the forms with your employing agency, and theyll forward the documents to OPM on your behalf. If it has been more than 31 days since you separated from service, youll need to fill out the forms and gather all the required information yourself and submit this documentation directly to OPM. There will likely be many forms to request from the employer which can take time and draw out the process of reviewing your application.
Once your paperwork has been submitted, you should receive an Acknowledgment Letter from OPM containing information and a CSA claim number. This acknowledgment lets you know your application has been received and will be reviewed to determine if you are eligible for disability retirement. All future documentation, communication and correspondence should include the CSA claim number assigned to your case.
Once in receipt of your application package, OPM examines the application and supporting documentation. OPM may contact you or your employing agency for additional information during this period.
You and your employing agency will be notified if your application is approved or disallowed. If your claim is allowed, it is possible to get interim payments during the period after your pay has been stopped and while OPM is calculating your annuity amount.
Processing Time For Fers Disability Retirement
Application processing times for FERS disability retirements vary from case to case. The Office of Personnel Management is capable of processing applications once received in as few as three months in some cases. Occasionally, it could take longer than a year. However, the typical duration for a decision from OPM is between six and nine months.
What makes matters worse is that if an employee were to not hear back in a timely manner and were either removed from service or placed in a leave without pay status, but did not have a sufficient amount of savings, losing their ability to work could put them into serious financial trouble and/or cause concerns on health insurance and costs of treatments required for their medical conditions.
As hinted prior, there are a variety of factors that can influence the processing time of your application. The predominant contributing factor is that OPM, who is responsible for processing these applications, reviews them on a first-come-first-served basis. Coupled with the fact that OPM is responsible for all federal workers, it can take a while for your application to be processed, let alone given to a specialist for review and determination. While you cannot cut to the front of the line, you can help ensure that you do not have to wait in line again by submitting all of your papers in accordance with OPM protocol the first time.
Also Check: Can I Work While On Social Security Disability
Opm Claims Process Lawyer
If you become disabled from service in your federal employment due to injury or disease, you may be able to access OPM disability retirement, which pays you a percentage of your income through age 62. The process required to prove your eligibility and qualify for benefits can be confusing and time-consuming, and if you try to apply for benefits on your own or without the help of a skilled legal professional, you may find that months and years go by without you ever getting any closer to actually receiving your benefits. At the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz, we know that you dont have that time to wait, and we know how important it is that you ultimately be successful on your claim. Steve Barszcz has spent many years successfully securing OPM disability retirement for federal employees nationwide. Learn more about the OPM claims process below, and contact OPM claims process lawyer Stephen Barszcz if you are applying for benefits or having trouble with your claim.
Disability Insurance: What Happens If A Federal Employee Becomes Disabled And Cant Work
by Joyce Warner
I recently sat down with Greg Klingler from the Government Employees Benefit Association and Cheri Cannon, from the law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC, to talk about the ins and outs of feds and disability insurance. This is a complicated topic and at FEEA we know many federal employees would like more information about it.
Joyce: It seems like most of the feds we speak with are more focused on life insurance than on disability insurance. Yet, I believe its much more common for someone to become disabled , then pass away. Does that match your experience?
Greg: Joyce, this absolutely matches our experience. The idea of living with a disability is a scary thought, which causes many of our members to avoid the topic entirely. The fact remains, 12.6% of Americans live with some form of disability.
A 2017 study by Group Market Share found that 1 in 4 Americans who are age 20 will suffer from a disabling event that is expected to last at least one year, before they reach their full social security retirement age. The fact that a 20 year old is more likely to become disabled than die begins to look more reasonable when we look at the reasons people become disabled Musculoskeletal disorders , Cancer , Mental Health .
Despite all of this, many of our members continue to focus on their mortality and not their potential infirmity, which is why education about the risk of disability is so important.
How does OPM report their data? Visit their site to learn more.
Don’t Miss: Americans With Disabilities Act Lawyer
Applying For Fers Disability Benefits
In order to receive your benefits, you will need to submit an application to the Office of Personnel Management . Numerous forms will need to be completed, and documentation will need to be submitted. Failure to submit the proper documentation or submitting an incomplete application or inaccurate application could result in your claim being denied.
The most important element will be your medical records concerning your disability in terms of documentation. They will need to explain in detail how your illness or injury has led to your disability and how it specifically limits your ability to do your job. Your medical records will also need to clearly document that your disability will either last for more than 12 months or is permanent. Your documentation must include objective findings such as test results and medical opinions and subjective evidence such as reports detailing your pain and how it affects your daily life. The FERS disability lawyers at the Law Office of Emmett B. Irwin can contact your doctors to get the correct medical information so that your claim is approved.
Why Does It Take So Long
Several things make this application process take a long time. These factors can also make the FERS disability retirement timeline difficult to predict in a given case.
Perhaps the most important contributing factor is that the OPM, which makes these decisions, does so on a first-come-first-served basis.
When you submit your application, it is impossible to know how many applications are in front of you. The number can vary widely. Also, the OPM is a sizable bureaucratic network.
They are responsible for all federal employees . As such, the gears of the federal government can take a while to turn.
This is unavoidable, but there are ways that may help expedite an application.
Also Check: Short Term Disability In Massachusetts
Q: What Happens If You Resign From Federal Service Due To A Medical Condition Before A Reasonable Accommodation Is Decided On
A: If you resign before finishing the reasonable accommodation process then the OPM can argue that the Federal Agency was never given an opportunity to see whether an accommodation or reassignment was possible, or not, and therefore one of the critical elements in proving eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits cannot be met or established.
What Can A Federal Or Postal Employee Do To Win On Appeal
While none of the following four steps guarantee you will be granted federal disability retirement, or perfectly protect you from an MSPB finding that, while approved for Social Security disability, you are not entitled to federal disability retirement, following them is the best way to attack OPM’s denial throughout the process.
Read Also: How Much Is Long Term Disability Insurance
Q: If I Am Separated Before A Federal Disability Retirement Approval Will I Still Receive My Back Pay
A: Yes, if you are separated before your case is finalized then you could be eligible for back pay from your last date in pay status. Back pay is paid out separately after your case is finalized, before you receive your Federal Disability Retirement monthly annuity. To learn more about back pay, click here.
Here Are The Other Conditions You Must Meet In Order To Receive Opm Disability Retirement:
- You need to have no other jobs that you can fill due to your health circumstance
- You need to be suffering an illness or disability that is expected to last a year or more.
- You need to have worked for the federal government for a minimum of a year and six months.
- You need not to be able to perform essential job duties for your designated position.
Read Also: Disability For Arthritis In Spine
Can You Lose Federal Disability Benefits
In general, FERS disability lasts for as long as you remain disabled. Here are three reasons why your benefits may stop:
- Medical recovery: To prove continuing qualification, OPM may require you to receive periodic doctors exams. If evidence shows that you have medically recovered from your disabling condition, your benefit payments will stop.
- Restoration of earning capacity: You will lose federal disability if other sources of income equal 80% or more of the current base pay rate from the position you retired from.
- Administrative recovery: Your benefits will stop if you obtain federal employment in a position equivalent to what you held at retirement.
In addition, remember that non-disability FERS retirement benefits start at age 62. This means your disability payments will cease at that time, and you will be switched over to regular retirement income through OPM.
Get It Right The First Time Opm Says Of Disability Retirement Applications
OPM has urged federal agencies to take more care that disability retirement applications they send there for processing are complete and accurate from the start.
In a notice to agency benefits officers, OPM noted that early in 2020 it reminded them of the special considerations for processing that type of application, which is more complex than a standard voluntary retirement application. Unfortunately, we continue to receive incomplete disability retirement application packages and encounter difficulties in obtaining the necessary documentation for disability retirement claims for separated federal employees, it said.
OPM said that complete disability retirement applications that it receives are assigned to a case worker within 30 days and decisions are issued within roughly 45 days of being received. However, it said that those timelines are dependent upon the receipt of a complete disability retirement application package. A disability retirement case cannot be finalized or moved through the review process if the package is incomplete.
The notice listed all the documentation needed for an application to be complete, including statements from the applicant, and their supervisor and physician a statement from the agency regarding any efforts to accommodate the condition so that the person could remain on the job proof that the employee also has filed for Social Security disability benefits and more.
Recommended Reading: Student Loan Forgiveness With Disability
What To Do If You Are Denied Federal Disability Retirement
If OPM denies your application, you can file a reconsideration appeal within 30 days. You have the best chance of winning your appeal if you submit additional medical evidence or other supporting information not included with your first application.
If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you still have options:
- You can appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board .
- If the MSPB also denies your application, you can appeal to the MSPB board.
- Once you have exhausted these administrative solutions, you can take your case to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Can I Receive Disability Benefits From Opm And The Department Of Labor’s Office Of Workers’ Compensation Programs At The Same Time
In general, you should decide which benefit is most advantageous for you, and elect to receive that one. If you decide you want to receive OWCP benefits, then payments from OPM will be suspended. But if your OWCP benefits stop, then you can ask OPM to pay your disability benefit.
If you decide to come off of OWCP and pick up OPM benefits, you should coordinate with OWCP first to ensure you agree on the termination date. OPM benefits will begin the day after OWCP benefits cease. An overpayment may result. You can receive an OWCP Scheduled Award and OPM retirement benefits at the same time.
You should contact us if you’re awarded workers’ compensation benefits to see if you need to make an election between benefits. You should go to the OWCP website for more information about workers’ compensation benefits.
You May Like: Office Of Aging And Disability