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Unique Problems Associated with Postal Disability Retirements

Date Added: August 14, 2015 07:09:57 AM

Uniqueness comes in different forms: as a “stand-alone” entity, it engenders laudatory appreciation for the singularity of its presence, for whatever it does, and in whichever form it may undertake. The negative aspect of it, however, is that when problems arise, they are often ones which are not shared by others and, as such, they can snowball into unknown arenas of untethered experiences. The Postal Service is one such entity of uniqueness – identified in the U.S. Constitution and, as such, an agency of explicit legal standing; but with that status and stature comes attendant problems which emanate from that deep chasm of singularity.

Other non-Postal Federal agencies rarely engage in the type of shenanigans which have become typical of the U.S. Postal Service, and for which they have gained unwarranted notoriety. For example, how is it that Postal employees who remain on "Leave without Pay" status can continue to stay on the rolls of the Postal Service for many years, and sometimes decades? Is it merely that they were lost within the bureaucratic morass of computer software and payroll ensconces? The registry of Postal employees is not like bookkeeping of past centuries; names, social security numbers and payroll records are not handwritten and stored in metal filing cabinets, lost in musty basements and forgotten warehouses, anymore (of course, if they were, perhaps there would less of a danger of uninvited invasions and dissemination of confidential information to worldwide hackers). Instead, such records are kept in the ethereal world of computer devices, and a quick search by a push of a button should enable instantaneous discovery of databases uncovering those left on LWOP for the last month, the previous year, or the past decade – or so one would think.

But whether by inconvenience, incompetence or incorrigible increments of ineptitude, the advantage for the U.S. Postal Worker in being left on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service is that the tolling of any statute of limitations is thus delayed by the non-triggering of a non-separation of the Postal employee. For Postal workers who want to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the fact is that many Postal workers have been on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, drawing OWCP benefits, and receiving O-balance paystubs for years and years. But the Postal Worker must be aware of one important factor: The benefits received from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs is not a retirement check. Further, and in recent years, there has been another “unique” feature which has been pervading Postal employees who have not physically been to work for many years: sudden stoppage of those 0-balance paystubs, with no indication as to why. Lawyers love nothing more than to find the loopholes to precedents and pardonable offenses; but all lawyers worth any tonnage of salt will still have to be blunt about the chances of subverting or making an end-around argument against statute of limitation issues.

Chances are, your name is being, or has been, or will at some time, be expunged from the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service.

One of the eligibility criteria in filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits is that one must file for Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service. While being deemed medically “incompetent” or committed to a psychiatric institution during that year of tolling the Statute of Limitations may be grounds for an exception, being ignorant of “the law” is otherwise not a justifiable basis for extending the 1-year rule for filing. As such, “not knowing” that one was separated, often becomes the harbinger of future shockwaves. Furthermore, even if the Postal employee is using a Federal Disability Retirement approval as a means of forming a “safety net” in the event of payment stoppage from the Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, the problem of uniqueness begins where employment with the U.S. Postal Service ends.

For, it is indeed a “unique” concern to be left on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service for many years, and perhaps beyond a decade. The lull of receiving the 0-balance paystub, like the monotony of repetition, brings about a false sense of security – so much so that when those paystubs stop arriving with regularity, one fails to miss it, precisely because the Postal worker had already stopped looking at them, as the information provided never contained anything new or revelatory. And those OWCP benefits also have been received with uninterrupted regularity; until, of course, the day comes when they stop.

Uniqueness is like that individual who gets bitten by a shark, or hit by lightening, or struck by falling shards from space debris. We are told that, statistically speaking, such rare occurrences portend within a context of such uniqueness that to be concerned with it is of negligible significance. What are the chances of being attacked by a shark? 1 in 10 million. For being struck by lightening? 1 in a million (with variables as to location, being inside or outside, or standing deliberately under a tree in the middle of a lightening storm). From space debris? 1 in several trillion. But what if you are attacked by a shark, hit by lightening and/or dinged by space debris? Suddenly, the statistical standing is 100%. Of course, such ascription of statistical fulfillment is retroactively arrived at, but nevertheless, when fruition of an event fulfills in defiance of odds calculated, the numerical anomaly suddenly disappears.

Too many victims of statistical consequences walk about with shark-bitten stumps, death by natural electrocution, and injury by floating garbage. Similarly, too many phone calls end with, “I didn’t know…no one told me…it has been over a year since I stopped receiving those 0-balance paystubs…” Uniqueness is indeed a strangeness and a “standout” from the normative behaviors of the everyday world; but it is precisely those esoteric states of optimized differentiation which we choose, and not the one’s which fall upon us unexpectedly, which distinguish with desired distinction.

The lull of present financial stability often provides a semblance of security. But procrastination is rarely a warranted basis for securing one’s future, and for the U.S. Postal worker who wants to delay filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because OWCP benefits have been approved and deposited into one’s bank account with regularity, or perhaps even Social Security Disability benefits have been awarded -- beware of the tolling of the Statute of Limitation in a Federal Disability Retirement case. Certainly, calling a Federal lawyer who specializes in OPM Disability Retirement law to find out whether one may be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may clarify some issues, but as to uniqueness of circumstances – well, that may be beyond the purview of a Federal Disability Retirement Attorney, no matter how confounding the circumstances.

 

 

About the Author Robert R. McGill is an Federal Disability Attorney who specializes in FERS and CSRS Medical Retirement, a practice area he dedicates 100% of his time helping Federal and Postal workers secure their disability retirement benefits under OPM disability laws. For more information about his legal services, publications and forum, please visit his OPM Disability Retirement Website.

 

 

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