Many people get confused when they first consult with an attorney about disability retirement benefits for Postal Workers. Indeed, before consulting with an attorney, an individual who is faced with a medical condition which (1) is beginning to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position and (2) will likely last at least a year — such an individual should first take the time to research various websites to “get the facts” about USPS Disability Retirement.
I have had many individuals tell me that they didn’t even know that such a benefit existed; that when they were separated from their U.S. Postal Service, the employee was never informed that he or she could file for Federal Disability Retirement. Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse; if you don’t file for disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS with the Office of Personnel Management within one (1) year of being separated from service with the United States Postal Service, you will have lost your right to file — forever.
Furthermore, it is dangerous to “take comfort” in the fact that the Department of Labor/The Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs deemed you to be 100% disabled. That “100%” disabled status may last a lifetime, or it may last only so long as your particular OWCP caseworker is working on your case. The next caseworker may take it upon him or herself and decide that, Well, no, perhaps you are not 100% disabled, and perhaps sending you to a “Second Opinion” doctor (who, it just so happens, is receiving about 95% of his or her income expounding such “second opinions”) will result in a medical finding that you miraculously “recovered” and are able to go back to work. Benefits cut off. You waited a year or more after being separated from the Postal Service to find this out, without having filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. You are then, unfortunately, “out of luck”. Make sure that you file in a timely manner; make sure that you do not take comfort in being on OWCP rolls. Don’t forget – Postal or Federal Disability Retirement is an annuity that you can rely upon as a “base income” for your financial security.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire