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There are thousands of Postal employees who are eligible for a Disability retirement but are unsure if they qualify or they are intimidated of the process. Our goal is to give you a detailed description of what is involved as well as how to provide your documentation in a way that gives you the best chance at being approved.
Applying for a Disability Retirement is an option all federal employees have available. It is a time consuming process and remember you are certifying that you cannot perform your job anymore due to health reasons. There are forms that will need to be completed by your doctor, your supervisor, and yourself.
There are two basic formulas that are followed and one deals with the procedures for CSRS and the other deals with FERS disability. The basic criterion that must be met for both is the following:
OPM considers the documentary evidence that you, your physician, and your agency provide. Your claim can be allowed only if the evidence established that you meet all of following criteria:
- A medical condition, which is defined as a health impairment resulting from a disease or injury, including a psychiatric disease.
- Disability must last more than one year.
- Become disabled while serving under FERS or CSRS.
- A deficiency in service with respect to performance, conduct or attendance, OR in the absence of service deficiency, show that your medical condition is incompatible with either useful service or retention in the position. (Useful and efficient service means fully successful performance of the critical or essential elements of the position-or the ability to perform at that level-and satisfactory conduct and attendance.)
- Your medical condition has caused a service deficiency.
- Your employer must certify it is unable to reasonably accommodate your medical condition in your present position and that it has considered you for any vacant position in the same agency, at the same grade or pay level, and within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment.
- You, or your guardian or other interested person, must apply before your separation from service or within one year of your separation. The application must be received by OPM within one year from the date of your separation. This time limit can be waived only in instances involving incompetency.
When should I apply for a disability retirement?
You should consider applying for disability retirement only after you have provided your employing agency with complete documentation of your medical condition and your agency has exhausted all reasonable attempts to retain you in a productive capacity, through accommodation or reassignment. Your supervisor will need to provide a statement for OPM that is contained in the packet.
What forms do I fill out?
Complete SF 2801, Application for Immediate Retirement, and SF 3112, Documentation in Support of Disability Retirement.
What are the service requirements?
For CSRS employees- you must have completed at least five years of creditable Federal civilian service and for FERS employees- 18 months.
What documentation will I need to support my application?
Your doctors will need to provide OPM with statements stating that your condition will not be improving (you have reached maximum medical improvement) AND your condition(s) keeps you from performing theessential elements of your position.
The thing to remember when applying for disability retirement is that you and your Physician need to show a correlation between your illness or disease and the expectations of your job with the agency.
How will my doctor know what the essential elements of my job consist of?
In your medical retirement packet that you receive from your agency, it will contain a copy of your “Standard Position Description” but it does not accurately detail what you do on a daily basis for your job.
Include a detailed account of what you do in your position with the “Standard Position Description” and a cover letter for your physician so he has a clear understanding of what your job truly involves.
In our next article we will go into specific detail of how much detail is needed to successfully be approved for a disability retirement.