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Disability Retirement


The federal government allows employees who are unable to work to retire under a disability retirement. It is in the best interest of both employees and the federal government for employees to remain gainfully employed in their current grade or pay level, as long as they can provide useful and efficient service without endangering themselves, others or government property.
Disability retirement should be the very last option and should be used only when attempts have been made to preserve an individual's employment, and those attempts have failed.

Order our Disability Retirement guide to educate yourself on the rules and regulations concerning disability retirement for federal employees.

To read today's top news stories on federal employee pay, benefits, retirement, job rights and other workplace issues visit FederalDaily.com.
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kitkat04401  
#1 Posted : Friday, September 17, 2021 11:54:22 AM(UTC)
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I’m currently on FMLA due to health reasons and LWOP. There is no foreseeable option of me returning to work. Im trying to keep this as brief as possible but my questions are what happens once my FMLA leave runs out? I know I have to plan on submitting reasonable accommodations although the RA are impossible to fulfill and my doctor is strongly suggesting I start the process to stop working because it’s impossible for me to perform my duties. But what happens once the FMLA is exhausted? I’m also scared I’m going to have a massive debt for the FEHB since I’m now on LWOP? I exhausted all my leave. I was approved for the VLTP but I don’t know anyone who can donate leave to me. So the leave program is hopeless. Sorry this is so long, I’m completely out in left field with how this all works and never in a million years thought I’d be in this situation. I qualifying for the DR so that is not an issue. I also plan on getting an attorney but I need to figure out the steps from here. I’d contact HR or EO but since I’ve been on FMLA for more than 30 days I’ve been deleted or somehow fallen off the network so I no longer have an .mil email or access to log in to my agencies network. And my supervisor isn’t exactly the wealth of info. Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
GSBS  
#2 Posted : Friday, September 17, 2021 2:41:37 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: kitkat04401 Go to Quoted Post
I’m currently on FMLA due to health reasons and LWOP. There is no foreseeable option of me returning to work. Im trying to keep this as brief as possible but my questions are what happens once my FMLA leave runs out? I know I have to plan on submitting reasonable accommodations although the RA are impossible to fulfill and my doctor is strongly suggesting I start the process to stop working because it’s impossible for me to perform my duties. But what happens once the FMLA is exhausted? I’m also scared I’m going to have a massive debt for the FEHB since I’m now on LWOP? I exhausted all my leave. I was approved for the VLTP but I don’t know anyone who can donate leave to me. So the leave program is hopeless. Sorry this is so long, I’m completely out in left field with how this all works and never in a million years thought I’d be in this situation. I qualifying for the DR so that is not an issue. I also plan on getting an attorney but I need to figure out the steps from here. I’d contact HR or EO but since I’ve been on FMLA for more than 30 days I’ve been deleted or somehow fallen off the network so I no longer have an .mil email or access to log in to my agencies network. And my supervisor isn’t exactly the wealth of info. Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

You asked about 1 million questions, all good ones, so this would be difficult to answer. It is a real plus that your Doctor is going to support you. You mention you are sure you would qualify for D.R., you really can't be sure of anything? Did you file for SSDI yet? After your Family leave ends most here are given up to a year of LWOP, I'm not sure how much you have used. I for example got unlimited AWOL and my agency terminated my FEHB. Most here will have their FEHB extended for up to a year. The R.A. question is up to your agency for the retirement application. If you or your agency could identify a reasonable accommodation, that is always better than this 40% BS. You will be paid from your last date in service when you win. However, being on the donor leave program or accepting any miscellaneous payments could wipe out any money due and start the clock all over again, you might want to get off that program. I'd consult and possibly hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Some will take it for no charge up front, some charge a retainer, we have many posts here. I hope some of this helps!
kitkat04401  
#3 Posted : Sunday, September 19, 2021 6:33:55 AM(UTC)
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Thank you. I meant I qualify for DR, in regards to I’ve been an employee for over 10 years etc. I’ve started the SSDI application but didn’t finish because I wasn’t sure if I was able to if I am technically still on FMLA. However I haven’t received a paycheck for almost 6 weeks. My concern is once my FMLA runs out and not being able to return to work, what happens next? My supervisor doesn’t always respond to my questions and I no longer have access to my work accounts so I don’t have the POC information to contact the correct people. For instance after seeing my PCM last week, she recommended I extend my FMLA to maximize the full 12 weeks. But when I made the request to my supervisor and asked what was needed on my end, I received no response. Somehow I am going to have to make it into work tomorrow since my FMLA request ended on Friday and I’m not sure if I’m allowed to extend a few more weeks. If I don’t show up, I’ll get marked as AWOL and that will just open another set of issues. Sorry for all the questions, I’m completely new to this and never thought I would be in this situation. I’ve always managed to keep my disability under control without needing any FMLA, RA or even making my supervisor aware. But the last year things have progressively gotten worse that I found myself having to call off work almost weekly. Even though we were teleworking. I think I was in denial and had the mentality I could push through, which made it worse. I plan on getting an attorney but I wanted to be proactive and understand the process and not just get fired. I plan on asking for reasonable accommodations but not sure if there is anything reasonable that could be given that fits into my job description. Thanks for all the information. This entire situation is depressing and stressful enough.
SingleMom  
#4 Posted : Sunday, September 19, 2021 9:14:45 AM(UTC)
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Hello, your story sounds incredibly like mine:)

While I'm no expert, I can tell you what happened with me.

In February of this year, I realized pretty much the same thing as you. I couldn't do it anymore, my disability got the best of me.

My doctor initially wrote my FMLA return date as undetermined, and my boss insisted he put a date. The doctor put it for a month. When that was up, I just emailed my boss and told him I wasn't going to be in, and asked what else he needed. He asked for, and I then provided, a note from my doctor again indicating my return date as undetermined.

At this point, I called Harris Federal law firm to find out what my options were. They said I should go for a DR since my doctor couldn't provide a day I could return. I signed up with them.

They sent me a packet asking for my doctor's contact info and my works info. like you, I didn't know my works HR contact, so I left it blank.


My leave ran out at around 10 weeks and I was lucky enough to have a significant savings. The DR process can take a year or more, so if you don't have any savings, you might need to use your 401k or look into other options for income while you wait.

At around 12weeks, Harris Federal sent requests to my work and doctors for information.

My boss sent me a packet about reasonable accommodation, and, like you, I had no idea what to say. I discussed it with Harris Federal, and put down LWOP pending my DR. Harris Federal wrote my Reasonable accommodation request for me and they wrote a letter for my doctor to review and sign.

My boss forwarded it to the appropriate HR person and my reasonable accommodation request was denied, saying I'm not a qualified person with a disability. (Harris Federal said this was good for my case)

It's been eight months, so far. Harris Federal sent my application to OPM August first, so I hope to have a decision soon. My savings will run out in February, so I'll need to dip into my 401k if it takes longer.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

I'd recommend calling a lawyer to help you. I couldn't have done anything without Harris Federal.
GSBS  
#5 Posted : Sunday, September 19, 2021 6:27:25 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: kitkat04401 Go to Quoted Post
Thank you. I meant I qualify for DR, in regards to I’ve been an employee for over 10 years etc. I’ve started the SSDI application but didn’t finish because I wasn’t sure if I was able to if I am technically still on FMLA. However I haven’t received a paycheck for almost 6 weeks. My concern is once my FMLA runs out and not being able to return to work, what happens next? My supervisor doesn’t always respond to my questions and I no longer have access to my work accounts so I don’t have the POC information to contact the correct people. For instance after seeing my PCM last week, she recommended I extend my FMLA to maximize the full 12 weeks. But when I made the request to my supervisor and asked what was needed on my end, I received no response. Somehow I am going to have to make it into work tomorrow since my FMLA request ended on Friday and I’m not sure if I’m allowed to extend a few more weeks. If I don’t show up, I’ll get marked as AWOL and that will just open another set of issues. Sorry for all the questions, I’m completely new to this and never thought I would be in this situation. I’ve always managed to keep my disability under control without needing any FMLA, RA or even making my supervisor aware. But the last year things have progressively gotten worse that I found myself having to call off work almost weekly. Even though we were teleworking. I think I was in denial and had the mentality I could push through, which made it worse. I plan on getting an attorney but I wanted to be proactive and understand the process and not just get fired. I plan on asking for reasonable accommodations but not sure if there is anything reasonable that could be given that fits into my job description. Thanks for all the information. This entire situation is depressing and stressful enough.
You can file the SSDI at any time before approval for D.R. Both you and Single Mom above seem not to have been given that 1 year of LWOP & FEHB everyone else posts about? I know I didn't. I wouldn't worry about anything R.A. related to your D.R. application, that is unless they find something? Perhaps you can find a job that might interest you, and you still would have special hiring rights for a year under some sort of government placement program. I see a possible problem, your ability to conceal your condition aside from the requested time off. Your Supervisor will probably say they knew nothing of your condition, and say you were an exceptional employee with great performance reviews...Your attorney will make sure to have your statement reflect the attendence issue. Your FEHB will either continue to work or just plain stop. You are during this period still supposed to pay the "Your Share" portion. Seems it is eiser to violate Federal law and just cut it off? Heck when OPM turned my BCBS back on I was given a family and expected to pay for their premiums, $10,000 for people that didn't exist!
VW1  
#6 Posted : Monday, September 20, 2021 8:33:28 AM(UTC)
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I will try and give general information since I am not privy to what your agency regulations and policies state about LWOP and FEHB coverage. There are some agencies, Postal Service and Veterans Affairs, that allow you to be in an LWOP status for up to 12 months before they take any action against you. During that 12-month period they are required to maintain your FEHB premiums.

Once you have exhausted your 12 weeks of FMLA coverage and protection, your employer can start to discipline you for being absent from work. If they do start the discipline process there are other steps you can take to protect yourself, but that process will take a minimum of 2 to 3 years to come to a conclusion. When you apply for DR there are questions on the application that ask your current status with your agency. If your application is approved all of the time you have spent in an LWOP status will be paid under your DR. If your FEHB was cancelled prior to your application being approved it will be reinstated once your application is approved assuming you are entitled to carry over your FEHB into retirement. Right now the application process is taking anywhere from 3 to 6 months to have a decision issued on your application.

I will be very honest with you as I am with all my clients and with my responses to posters in this forum. You do not need an attorney to help you with the application process and could most likely do it yourself. I know a law firm that manages this for their clients, and they charge $5000 for helping you complete the application. There is a lot more information regarding DR that you will need to know but hope this helps with the questions you posted.

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