By Elliott Andalman, Esq.
FERS Disability Retirement
Sometimes one of the hardest parts of a process can be finding the motivation to start. When a task is especially daunting, it is easy to find a myriad of other things that must be done first. When faced with the often intimidating task of filing for FERS Disability Retirement (FDR), this can be especially true because federal employees and postal workers filing for these retirement benefits are suffering from serious medical problems. However, procrastination can be incredibly detrimental to your claim.
Time Limits for Filing Disability Retirement Applications
5 USC 8337(b) provides the time limit for a disability retirement application:
A claim may be allowed under this section only if the application is filed with the Office [of Personnel Management (OPM)] before the employee or Member is separated from the service or within 1 year thereafter. The time limitation may be waived by the Office for an employee or Member who at the date of separation from service or within 1 year thereafter is mentally incompetent, if the application is filed with the Office within 1 year from the date of restoration of the employee or Member to competency or the appointment of a fiduciary, whichever is earlier.
It is rare for OPM or the Merit System Protection Board to find an exception to this one year deadline, aside from the exception for mental incompetence. Occasionally circumstances may allow for some leniency. The MSPB recognizes the complexity of the process and will give some leeway to a pro se applicant (one without an attorney), but it is specific that “Pro Se status alone does not excuse untimeliness.” (Devaughn v. USPS) and a reliance on Pro Se status would be foolhardy as “[c]onfusion over Board procedures does not constitute good cause for waiver of a filing deadline.” – (Davis v. USPS). Waiting to file days, weeks, months or even years after separation from employment will not be excused. A legitimate claim can easily be denied if not timely filed.
The diligent pro se applicant may also find his or her claim denied if an error is made where they file. If an employee separated more than 30 days submits his or her FDR application to the former employing agency, rather than with OPM, he or she will only meet the filing deadline if OPM receives the application from the agency within one year after the separation. (5 C.F.R. § 844.201 (a)(1)).
Contact the Disability Lawyers at Andalman & Flynn in Maryland
Working with an experienced attorney means that your application will receive the priority it deserves. A long and complicated process can seem much more manageable when someone else has done it before. The disability team at Andalman and Flynn has the experience, the knowledge, and the patience to handle the filing deadlines and requirements and navigate a claim for Federal Disability Retirement. For assistance with your Federal Disability Retirement application and much more, contact Andalman & Flynn for a free consultation today.
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