Roseanne is a retired USPS employee with an extensive background in USPS retirement, disability retirement, OWCP, EEO, Labor Relations and HR. She conducts individual and group counseling and is able to comprehensively discuss the pros and cons of employees who are on OWCP, disability retirement and regular retirement. Roseanne will be happy to answer your postal retirement questions. Contact Roseanne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good day Postal Employees!! I KNOW I am about 4 weeks late on this column!!
But moving into a new residence at my age, is not for the faint of heart. Suggestion….if you intend to move, especially after retirement….start now!! The things we accumulate during our career and just life, can be overwhelming. I have boxes from the 80’s and 90’s on my personal notes (And beyond the 90’s too!!)….(OH you know what I mean, the CYA (copious notes) files that all EAS employees have!!!) of “issues” worked on while employed, thinking, what if they may be needed someday.
So 30-40 years of hauling around my CYA files (SO TRUE!!) sounds like a good start to….. shredding, which has become my middle name lately. Seriously, start as soon as you have the “thought” that you might be moving…START….like 8 pairs of black boots and 6 pairs of brown boots or 32 pairs of black slacks, and so many pairs of shoes, that I would be way too embarrassed to give that number…really. Advice – start NOW, it is cathartic.
OK so there was that…Next…..I try to stay very neutral politically when writing this column. Because I believe and always will, that everyone..EVERYONE has a voice and an opinion, and should not be demonized by their opinion. I have very strong political beliefs, and in my opinion, one side is not right on every issue, which is why we all struggle into where “we” fit into the political landscape. All I can say is vote. If you believe we are running well as a country, vote your belief, and if you feel we are not running well as country, vote your belief. Your opinion changes nothing….your vote will.
Next thing I am going to do is list a variety of letters that all have to do with Disability Retirement. All are different, all have been sanitized of course. But to give you an idea of what I hear out there. Maybe in these letters you read, it will remind you of someone you work with, or yourself. Keep in mind that each got a personal response to “their” issue. I am giving the information to show how to initiate the process of disability retirement.
There is very little information out there about this subject, so I would like this important part of retirement to be the subject of this column. The first thing to say is that disability retirement is NOT just for those who were injured on the job. Your ability to file an application for disability retirement DOES NOT depend on the fact that you had to be injured on the job.
Q 1. Hello Ms Jefferson, My name is KP. I am a USPS employee that started on 8/9/93. I currently have a chronic condition with my back. I also have osteoarthritis in my knees and I have pain on a daily basis with back, knees or both. I requested a disability packet today from HRSSC as I have been missing more work than previously and shots just don’t seem to be working as well or as long anymore. I at 58 and will be 59 on 9/4. I wanted to retire after my birthday in Sept. 2023 but don’t feel like I can make it that long. I could retire in Sept of 2021 but should I just move forward with applying for disability now rather than wait for 2021? Is there anything you can suggest that I need to be aware of during the disability retirement process? Thank you for any assistance.
Q 2. Dear Roseanne Jefferson: My name is ML. And this is my sons’s e-mail address because I do not have one. You can reach me at this e-mail address or my cell XXXXX
I am considering going out on disability retirement from my job at the post office due to my health. I have no idea of what to do and what needs to be done. I would greatly appreciate your guidance and consultation concerning this matter. Thank you very much for your help and assistance. I am grateful.
Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I have end stage renal disease and am in line for kidney transplant and though I’m not looking for postal disability Retirement it was brought to my attention that it might have an effect on the social security part of the Retirement . The reason I’m not file one for Postal disability is it would take to long for approval and I can’t be without the money for The year it would take . Any thoughts you might have….
Q 4. Hi Roseanne, I’m not out still working but having issues and it’s getting to be to much I had the FCE done so I’d have some limitations to help with work but I’m 100% ready to retire if it’s possible so my mind is made up I have to have more than 1 day to get rest from working and I need to focus on me..I’ve got muscle and nerve damage and now I have tremors all over so I will do and pay whatever it takes to make this happen. My number is still XXX-XX. I’m happy to meet with you anytime and over the phone in your words I’m ready to ^$*# and get off the pot…lol
Q 5. Good day Ms./Mrs.Jefferson: My name is QNY, I’m 59 year old Bulk Mail Clerk and I need your help. In August I had open heart surgery and haven’t gone back to work. I also have type 2 diabetes, stage 3 or 4 kidney disease and osteoarthritis of the spine, that was aggravated by 3 previous car accidents, and want to retire.
I’m under FERS, I was hired in January 1988, but as a divorced parent of 2, wasn’t able to save much in my Thrift. For SSI I must be age 62 to collect? Would I be able to qualify under Disability Retirement?
My daughter, a postal worker here as well, & brought me back from LA after my surgery. I understand I’ll probably need an appointment to see you and of course pay your fee for this service. I really just need to know your opinions, my options and the correct documents to submit.
Thank you for your time. Hoping to hear from you soon.
Q 6. Good afternoon Roseanne, I need your advice on what to do. I have been out on sick leave since September 8 due to stage 5 kidney failure. My retirement date is not until October 2023. I will be 56 and have 30 years. I hear for every year you go early use lose 5% on annuity, is this true?So bottom line I’m trying to figure out to try drag out 4 years or go out on medical disability. Thank you
Q 7. Hi Roseanne, First of all thank you for all that you do for us….we would be lost if it were not for you writing these columns. My situation is this. I hurt my shoulder in SEpt 1999. I have had 2 shoulder surgeries and since 2002, I had met my Maximum Medical Improvedment. SO I have have had restrictions in place for some time. I go yearly for my evaluation on my shoulder for workers comp. today I have my appointment and my doctor is telling me that I need a total shoulder replacement, because after 2 surgeries and 19 years of pain, that another surgery to try to fix it, my best medical situation would be to have a shoulder replacement.
If I were to retire under disability can you give me some insight as to what my benefits would be. I started in the PO in 1994 and became a regular in Feb 1996 and my high 3 is 67,404 and I have a little over 100 in TSP. I am a window clerk now and am at a loss as to what to do. What would benefit me the most. I am turning 57 in August this year. What would my Social Security Benefits be? I am truly grateful for your help with this situation, thanking you in advance, I look forward to hearing from you…..
.(OH THEY DID!!)…you known that commercial where the guy asks if you know a good “handyman”, then wants 4 quotes, off days and compare prices & schedule the work for you…..that’s how I felt after reading # 7.
Q 8. Hey Roseanne – my name is DS I am filing for disability retirement, I got hurt at work .I am having to go through a lot of paper work.I was wondering if you could help me to see if I have done it right .Please let me know if you have time to help me I need the paper work complete before Jul 23 2020 Thank you so much….(received 7/5/2020).
So I could go on and on….everyone had a different answer, in terms that was specific to their particular email….but not every answer was the same. So to help with this subject, and I know that it is one subject that seems to not have a lot of information available about how to file for disability retirement. NOT WHAT I SAY….IT’S WHAT YOU ALL HAVE SAID TO ME…based upon the emails that I get from you every month. So we are going to start at the beginning of what makes you “eligible” to file for Disability Retirement.
Disability Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Annuity Requirements:
Age – Any Age
Years of Service – 18 months
You must have become disabled, while employed in a position subject to FERS, because of a disease or injury, for useful and efficient service in your current position. The disability must be expected to last at least one year. Your agency must certify that it is unable to accommodate your disabling medical condition in your present position and that it has considered you for any vacant position in the same agency at the same grade/pay level, within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment. (Resource: opm.gov)
There is nothing in the regulations that says to file for a disability retirement, it has to be an on the job injury. What about the employees that have cancer, certainly not an on the job injury or illness you could likely claim as work related, but you can still file for disability retirement.
But lets begin on how to get the process started, and the many things you need to know.
Because you are (FERS), you have a 3 part retirement (FERS; Social Security; TSP). Social Security being one big part of that retirement, and in order to be in compliance with federal regulations for filing for disability with PO/FERS/OPM (all of those mean the same thing), you also must also file for disability with the Social Security Administration.
(YOU MUST DO THIS TO BE IN COMPLIANCE (by filing for SSDI) OR OPM WILL NOT EVEN CONSIDER YOUR CASE). However, this is not the first thing you are going to do, but you are required to do it. We will get back to why a bit later.
The next thing is to call HRSSC at 1-866-475-5563 and request a disability annuity estimate and your blue retirement booklet. That booklet that you receive is the first of two booklets that you will fill out to apply for disability retirement. Actually thIs first booklet is simply the form “SF 3112 “Documentation in Support of Disability Accommodation Efforts”. Section A “Applicant’s Statement and Section C “Physician’s Statement” are filled out by you. Section B “Supervisor Statement” and Section D “Agency’s Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts” which are filled out by your Supervisor (Section B) and Section D is filled out by a designated Human Resources employee in your district/area. All you are required to do is fill out your portion, Section A and Section C is the part where your physician(s) document your illness or injuries. You need NOT be concerned about Section B or D at all.
That is the beginning and first part of this process. And truly is the most important part. Keep in mind that this type of retirement has to be approved….approved by a board of physicians at OPM. So unlike a regular retirement, where you have reached your eligibility with age and years of service, that retirement is simply processed, this is not, it must be “approved”.
When sending in the first part of this process (Section A and including medical information from Section C), be sure you copy everything!! ( you never send anything to anyone in the government and not copy it first !!). In this case, the main reason is, you are going to use the same medical information when applying for SSDI, so it only makes sense to do two copies of your medical information. That is why filling for SSDI first, is not the best choice, its double work. Gather all the information for both because you don’t want to rush either one. And by using the same medical documentation and physician’s statements you are virtually doing the hard part for both at the same time.
Once HRSSC receives the SF 3112 from you, then you are sent the REAL retirement paperwork, which is SF 3107 “Application for Immediate Retirement”. HRSSC will set up an appointment with you to go over the paperwork. After you have completed filling out the SF 3107, (COPY IT before mailing it to HRSSC), and then you will send that to HRSSC for them to “marry-up” both sets of paperwork (SF 3112 & SF 3107) and send them to OPM for approval.
This is why taking your time, and doing the best job you can of narrating (all of your illnesses/injuries) in the 3112, Section A, is vital to showing how your illness/injury has impacted your ability to work.
But more importantly, ensuring that your physician(s) narrate your illness/injury with all the supportive medical documentation, because a panel of physicians.
LET ME REALLY EXPLAIN WHAT I JUST SAID ABOVE…..YOU NEED TO BE AN ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF IN MAKING SURE YOUR DOCTOR GIVES YOU TEST RESULTS, AND ANY OTHER “supportive” MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION about YOUR ILLNESS OR INJURY.
Look at it like this, you got one shot to get this right…make the most of it…you are the one who this affects. Another thing, is you don’t have to be on sick leave or not working to apply for FERS Disability retirement. Many employees work and suffer with their medical issues, and are approved for disability retirement. OPM, Office of Personnel Management, handles retirement cases for all federal employees. In my experience, I have found that it takes anywhere from 5 months to 8 months for an approval (or denial). Social Security approvals take far longer, as THEIR criteria for approval for SSDI is more restrictive than the threshold for approval from OPM for a FERS Disability Retirement. I hope this has helped many of you out there ……