Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits when a Federal or Postal employee becomes injured or incurs a chronic medical condition is a process that involves meeting a legal standard that seems simple enough.
The “legal criteria” to meet is essentially a two-step standard: (1) Proving that one has a medical condition and (2) showing that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job. However, as with all things which appear simple, if only life reflected such simplicity.
While the initial reading of the statutes and regulations governing Federal Medical Retirement appear to the fairly straightforward, the inherent complexities belie the appearance of simplicity. For example, What constitutes an “essential element” of one’s job? Does failing to maintain a regular work schedule — i.e., taking excessive leave for doctor’s appointments, for example — qualify one for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? What if a Federal or Postal employee is terminated because he or she has taken too much time off to attend to one’s medical conditions? When should you inform your employer about your intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? If you are offered an “accommodation” for your medical disability, does that necessarily preclude you from filing for Federal disability Retirement benefits?
The adage of life often becomes the truism of living: Simplicity is never so simple, and Federal Disability Retirement is no exception.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire