Disability retirement: Avoid it if you can!

Tuesday - 5/6/2014, 2:00am EDT

Nobody (but maybe an arsonist or a crook) wants to see their own house burn to the ground so they can collect the insurance. Most people hope that all the premiums they pay for long-term-care insurance are "wasted" because they never have to go into a nursing home.

Disability retirement is like fire insurance or LTC coverage. Most people don't want to use, or need, it. But when they do, it is critical. And it can take awhile to be approved. Each year, thousands of federal and postal workers apply for disability retirement. So what is the process? Does the backlog in processing regular retirements have an impact on disability claims?

Last week we got an email from a female fed who has just started the process. She said:

"I have a question to which I can't find the answer anywhere. Could you tell me if federal disability retirement applications are processed the same/through the same channels, as voluntary federal retirement applications? Or could you direct me to someone who might be able to provide me with the answer? Many thanks." — S.F.
I, of course, didn't have a clue. But it pays to have friends in high places — with the right answers. So I asked David Snell, director of retirement benefits for the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He's an expert on the programs and was a long-time OPM official. He said:
"The answer is no! Applications for disability do not follow the same adjudication process as regular, voluntary retirements. Disability retirements involve 1) a medical determination and then 2) retirement adjudication. First of all, there won't be any interim payments triggered when OPM receives the initial disability package, since no one knows at that point if the disability will be approved or not plus not all of the employee's retirement related records are sent at that time. The initial package must then go to a special division to be reviewed and a determination made using the medical documentation and agency information, that the individual meets the eligibility requirements to be retired on a disability. If additional information is needed from the applicant, OPM will request it.

If approved, OPM notifies the agency who then sends the individual's complete retirement package to OPM for processing. When those records are received the individual will be placed in interim pay and the retirement application package assigned to a regular operating office for adjudication.

If the disability is not approved by OPM, notification is sent to the individual's agency. In the case of FERS disability retirements, OPM must also verify if the applicant applied and was granted Social Security Disability benefits and the amount.

Good to know, and we hope you never have to learn it first hand!

It's Always Something! By now, most people who care know that it is Public Service Recognition Week. There will be ceremonies and events around the country (with the big one in Washington, D.C.) to raise public awareness to the things that people in government do. That said, we got this, other information from Richard T. Wagner. He's a retired Defense employee and the service officer of NARFE Chapter 0813 in Indiana. He reminds:

"I guess no one noticed that 'Public Service Recognition Week' coincides with 'Be Kind To Animals Week'."
Or worse, maybe they did!


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

A prototype sketch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sold at auction fore $71,700 in May 2012.

(Source: Mental Floss)


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Survey: How much do feds trust the government?
Federal News Radio wants to know how much trust federal employees have in the government, and whether that trust has been growing or diminishing in recent years. Take our survey today and tell us your thoughts. Your anonymous responses will be used as part of a special report debuting May 20 on FederalNewsRadio.com and on the radio (1500AM in the Washington, D.C. region).

Archuleta: Feds' hard work needs to be recognized
As Public Service Recognition Week officially gets underway, Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management and a long-time public servant herself, tells Federal News Radio the hard work of the federal workforce deserves to be recognized.