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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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purplewillow  
#1 Posted : Monday, September 9, 2019 10:44:51 PM(UTC)
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Hello all. I am just finding out that DR is a thing. I am 100% VA disabled and I've been a GS employee for almost 4 years now. Problem is, my fibromyalgia and migraines are worse than they've ever been. I'm not sure why but my job is extremely stressful due to workload and manning. Medical care here for civilians is almost nonexistent since the medical clinic is only for AD military and their dependents. Civilians must be seen off base where there is a significant language barrier and although their healthcare here in Korea is fine under normal circumstances, I have no spleen due to an autoimmune disease and am really struggling. On top of that, I haven't been able to seek therapy for my anxiety and depression since, again, mental health is only for AD military. Due to the language barrier, there is no service they can recommend for us off base. I am taking my antidepressants and pain meds but I'm not even sure the dosages are correct as I haven't been "examined" since I was hired here, 2 years ago. I'm not receiving the care I should. And I'm struggling. Struggling to drag out of bed everyday and struggling to stay sane and struggling to keep my pain under control. I don't know how much longer I can do it. It would probably be easier if I were in the states but being here in Korea makes things a whole lot more difficult. I read here that I can request reasonable accommodations but I don't even know what those would be. We can't work from home in my line of duty. I'm at a loss, am in constant pain and am not sure where to go from here. Do I submit for LWOP? Do I just resign? Should I try to apply for DR? Can I even apply if I was hired with these disabilities, despite them being exacerbated by the stresses of this job? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by user Monday, September 9, 2019 10:48:29 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

American*Spirit  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 1:41:57 AM(UTC)
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First and foremost I would turn over every stone to get a doctor for treatment, even if you have to go off base. You have been in Korea for two years and still taking medications. Return to the physician who prescribed them to you for care and to discuss the struggles you are having. If that is impossible, get to the States for treatment.

Don't know how long you could afford it, but taking LWOP to return for medical treatment, getting a doctors narrative and request for accommodation from here could also work. Again, that's a matter of affordability but necessary if you can no longer work under these conditions.

Don't distract yourself with "what accommodations" do I ask for. Let your limitations be your guide on that, and your doctor should surely note. If there is something available that fits your needs they will surely let you know or deny you. If they deny you, that is still acceptable, that you tried.

thanks 1 user thanked American*Spirit for this useful post.
purplewillow on 9/10/2019(UTC)
frankgonzalez  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 3:11:20 AM(UTC)
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Please note, reassignment is an accommodation. And not just limited to your location.

Identify what you need to be able to do your job (it could be almost anything...the "reasonable" part comes in determining what can be done). Would flexible hours help (ie a maxiflex schedule where you work 80 hours a pay period, but not in a set 8 hours a day)?

Of course, I'm surprised the agencies on base aren't able to refer you to English speaking providers off base, but if not, that can impact your ability to seek care and help justify a curtailment of your assignment and a reassignment as an accommodation. Of course, the location may not be the place you want to be, but if you are open to locations, they can find one for you somewhere in the US.
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
gembarok  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 4:36:49 AM(UTC)
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Greetings,

I imagine it mostly depends on whether you were hired from the US and have command sponsorship, or you were hired in Korea. I don't see your being hired with those disabilities as a problem because as you stated, they can be exacerbated by service. Pretty sure you can get care from the VA for your service connected conditions. They will go thru the embassy to help you get set up. I don't know what the rotation is for Korea, but in Germany we had the 5 year rule. I was put on the priority placement program after serving for 5 years and got back to the states that way. I have seen people get compassionate reassignments before and were put on PPP. Regardless, it is going to be a tough road to get DR without a current doctors review.

S/
K
Endless Summer  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 12:27:28 PM(UTC)
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I would hope that if you have chronic, debilitating issues and have documented that appropriate care is not available either on base or off that you'd be a good candidate for a hardship transfer to someplace where you can get care.

At my previous agency, people in your position would make a request for folks willing to donate their leave time so the person could get treatment. It isn't a permanent thing, but it might buy you time to go someplace where they can properly diagnose and treat you.

good luck
purplewillow  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 8:39:11 PM(UTC)
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I think I'm confused. My prescriptions were prescribed in the states prior to my arrival here in Korea. They are simply rewriting the scipt upon expire each time. Also, let me clarify: I am seen both at the on base clinic and a hospital off base but it's only for prescription refills and minor issues such as common cold or ER visits. There is no specialized care such as neurology or internal medicine (due to my autoimmune disease and lack of spleen thus a very low immune system) or rheumatology which I need. I was brought here under false pretenses thinking those services were available to me. So with that said, there is no real treatment per se. They are able to refer me off base but I've noticed here, English speaking does not really mean that. It's very basic and most times there is a volunteer translator that lets the doctor know that you need more of the prescription that you have in your hand (the bottle) and they write a scipt. We are not in Seoul where things may be a bit different.

Since I have already been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, migraines and fibro already, I am just being prescribed my meds which is maybe all that can be done since the meds are my treatment. All of my treatments and doc visits are annotated. I make sure to get my records each time I go to the Korean hospital for refills although they have to be translated from Korean. The times I've been seen at the base clinic for prescriptions, pneumonia and migraines are on file as well but again, all they do is refill my prescriptions.

I was hired from the US. I do have return rights but also a transportation agreement for one more year and I have a daughter that is in her last 2 years of high school and would have a fit if we had to move again. I am really trying to hold on until she graduates to just take a break since I didn't take one between retirement 3 years ago to moving to the GS world.

The only VA medical care I've found here at both the Air Force and Army bases is for C&P exams. There are no VA docs here on peninsula for me to see for treatment. They will pay for service connected disabilities off base but again, with the language barrier, it is not something that works.

Not sure what the doctor's narrative should say but I will check into that. The problem is that I just came back from the states off of vacation and my office is down 2 people leaving 2 of us here to perform the job of 5. I can't see them allowing me to leave again or how my office would survive. That would mean falling further behind on tasks, more stress, and the merry-go-round keeps going. :( I'm also a single mom so leaving my teen here while I'm gone is not the best option, nor is pulling her out of school so that I can go to the states. I'm so so tired.

Edited by user Tuesday, September 10, 2019 8:55:30 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

American*Spirit  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, September 11, 2019 12:24:34 AM(UTC)
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Purplewillow.

Ok. From what I have read you have limited care for your condition on base, referred hospitals and lack of specialized care such as internal medicine, neurology and rheumatology for continuity of care. You merely get 'refills' as your condition deteriorates with no change in therapy for the past two years. When you get referrals to so called English speaking doctors, its usually translated and limited. You feel like your hanging on day by day not knowing what options you have. Your daughter will be in school at least another two years and you sound as if you really want to let her finish with some sense of stability since she does not want to move again.

If this were me, this is what I would go for in the list of priorities.

1) You are probably working approximately mideast in S. Korea, south of Seoul. Would it be remotely possible to seek care in Seoul on days off, a requested few days off to get treatment in Seoul after finding and calling physicians in that area who meet your needs, English speaking, specialty and payment acceptance. That's what I would do for care continuity and updates if its accessible.

2) If not, I would write that request for accommodation myself. Explaining in that request for accommodation your lack of accessibility to specialty healthcare under the circumstances AND your continued treatment which causes lack of productivity and /or complications in your occupation. State what that might be. Its not as if you don't have proof of any of this. Now this is just me as far as to what all I would disclose as private health care information. But for me, they can nail it to the company bulletin board for all I care if it helps me in obtaining my objective and relieve me from the torment. Be more discreet if you think you should. Think about what accommodations may relieve you, offer you some reprieve to be able to hang in there. Reduced schedule and or workload,back to the states for continuity of care, etc. You did not mention if you were already having the "talks" about job performance, if you are mention that. I understand that having health conditions upon employment is not a guarantee for disability retirement, but how those health conditions have deteriorated and exacerbated by your employment. Mention that. This is where the physicians evaluation is needed and crucial. But your not even able to get that. Always keep your copies of correspondence. If you are denied based on no recent objective doctors opinion, you at least have another significant piece of information for your records. If they write back and state they cannot accommodate, ( like anything ) you have your denial letter. But this is getting the ball rolling so they know your struggling here and have the responsibility to assist you or release you. Maybe they will allow you added days off at minimum initially, so you could seek treatment in Seoul to better document your condition, then you could submit an updated accommodation request based on the doctors evaluation.

3) The shortage in your office is compounding your stressors. More work with less people and your worried how they will make it. Focus on how your going to make it, getting this done.


4) The other suggestion is from another post listed here that you may want to call for consultation with the wonderful attorneys many people use here. They most certainly know a lot about federal disability retirements. Do this before option #2 I didnt use an attorney for my filing, but I did consult with one over the phone who did give me some suggestions. Not many, their time is not free, but consultations could give you a few.

Best of luck. Wishing you well.

Edited by user Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:06:25 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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purplewillow on 9/11/2019(UTC)
gembarok  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, September 11, 2019 6:23:11 AM(UTC)
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Greetings,

Well that is great news that you have return rights. There is some flexibility in the mobility agreement. For instance, the one year requirement is to stay in federal service. (on the return rights) You can change jobs as many times as you want once you are stateside within that year. There are waivers for everything. I would hope your child would understand that moving because of your health is acceptable. You certainly did put yourself in a pickle. I don't think that resignation is an option because you most likely would have to repay the unfinished prorated portion of your mobility agreement. Unfortunately, these are things people don't think through when accepting foreign assignments. I got out of the Army in Germany and took a federal job there soon after. So I had no command sponsorship. No health insurance. It wasn't easy but eventually I got sponsorship and my kids were finally allowed to attend school on base. I would think that leaving your child alone as an "option" is NEVER an option.

I agree with the advice you have been given here to request accommodations such as reassignment. And I would definitely imply that your conditions have worsened since you accepted the assignment. It happens and that isn't your fault. Keeping your command involved is your best avenue I'd say. If not, they have a command also. One of the drawbacks of working for the military in my experience is they expect their civilians to be little soldiers as well with no rights. That is not the case.

S/
K
purplewillow  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, September 11, 2019 8:30:59 PM(UTC)
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American*Spirit,

Thank you thank you thank you for the AHHHHHMAZING feedback/advice. And you put it into terms that make sense so thank you. Now at least I know where to begin.

gembarok, yes, they tend to treat us like we're still in the military. I feel like I still am most of the time.
corey301  
#10 Posted : Thursday, September 12, 2019 11:30:30 AM(UTC)
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Puple williow…

Please don't worry yourself with what your job will do if you leave or take leave. They will survive...I promise. In dire situations they can hire some one directly which means they get in a lot faster. They could also send temporaries to do the work until someone else is hired so please don't worry about that. You have to take care of you.

Now, Your situation sounds very similar to mine. I have a lung disease and this lung disease would hinder me from getting out of the bed sometimes. If I could get up at all it would make me move very slowly in great pain. It was hard to drive if at all and I started to miss many days from work. I filed FMLA so that they couldn't use my time away from work against me and I also asked for a reasonable accommodation (telework). I know you said its not an option in you line of work but my question to you is ...how do you know? Just because they say its not possible doesn't mean that's true. It wasn't possible in my line either but after the RA claim was filed it became possible. The only way they can deny you telework as a reasonable accommodation is if its a hardship for the command/Navy. Management doesn't like Telework but who cares as long as you can still do the work from home.

My management tried everyway they possibly could to take back the telework...I had it for 3 months and they finally found a way to take it back... so I resigned and applied for Disability Retirement and sued the hell of the NAVY by first filing an EEOC complaint. You have a very tough situation....your issue is just getting to work. You may need disability retirement. You CAN apply for it before you resign. Once you have gotten approved then put in your 2 week notice. It takes about a year to get approved. Once approve ask them for interim payments. This way you will receive something until they finalize you.

Remember though, When filing for any disability you have got to be thorough with your paperwork. Have at least a years worth of doctors notes and fill out all paperwork completely....don't take short cuts...they will know. I was approved for SSDI in less than 2 months and most get turned down the first time and have to hire an attorney. Disability retirement is a whole other animal from SSDI. It really shouldn't take so long for finalization but it does. I sure hope you have found some help in my words. Now that I did the disability retirement I feel so much better because I am able to care for myself better. DONT LET THAT JOB KILL YOU. ITS NOT WORTH IT!!!

****If you are a Veteran you can also get VA disability, SSDI and Federal disability. Look into this and you will be glad you did. If you need help let me know and I will help you through email.

Good luck and GOD Bless
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