FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Agency’s Actions Can Sometimes Be to Your Advantage

Postal employees, there is nothing inherently wrong with an Agency offering you modified or light duty assignments. If your Agency deems you to be valuable, they may want to modify your position in order to keep you. However, the mere fact that you accept and work at a “modified” position does not mean that you are thereby precluded, down the road, from filing for disability retirement.

In fact, most “light duty” or “modified positions” are not real positions anyway, and so you may have the best of both worlds for many years: be able to work at a light-duty or modified position, and still reserve the right to file for Postal Disability Retirement sometime in the future.

The reason for this is simple: in all likelihood, your SF 50 will not change, and you will still remain in the same, original position. As such, the “light duty” position is simply a “made-up” position which has no impact upon your ability to file for disability retirement later on. This is the whole point of Ancheta v. Office of Personnel Management, 95 M.S.P.R. 343 (2003), where the Board held that a modified job in the Postal Service that does not “comprise the core functions of an existing position” is not a “position” or a “vacant position” for purposes of determining eligibility for disability retirement. The Board noted that a “modified” job in the Postal Service may include “‘subfunctions’ culled from various positions that are tailored to the employee’s specific medical restrictions,” and thus may not constitute “an identifiable position when the employee for whom the assignment was created is not assigned to those duties“. The Board thus suggested that a “modified” job in the Postal Service generally would not constitute a “position” or a “vacant position.”

Analogously, this would be true in Federal, non-postal jobs, when one is offered a “modified” or “light-duty position,” or where a Federal employee is not forced to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s official position. Further, think about this: if a Postal or Federal employee is periodically offered a “new modified” position once a year, or once every couple of years, such an action by the Agency only reinforces the argument that the position being “offered” is not truly a permanent position. Sometimes, the Agency’s own actions can be used to your advantage when filing for disability retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

2 thoughts on “FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Agency’s Actions Can Sometimes Be to Your Advantage

  1. i lost for core of duties of a modified job was a mark up clerk and my 50 was change to a modified window clerk which became lobby dir which job is the core of duties mark up clerk that i was hired for or modified jobs that you or doing when you app for disabitity retire

  2. Similar to the other comment. I was an Air Traffic Controller and lost my medical clearance due to an on the job injury. Due to the nature of my injury, and Federal law regarding medical qualifications I will likely never return to being a controller. I was offered and accepted a “permanant light duty” job offer within the same agency (FAA). On My SF-50 my occupation code was changed from 2152 to 0301. The remarks section of the SF50 is specifically states: 1) “This position is for an OWCP return to work employee only.” 2) “Position created for incumbent only”. 3) “This position has no promotion potential.” I am currently recieving OWCP periodic payments for LWEC. I have been in this position for two years now. Am I still entitled to a FERS disablity retirement? I am concerned they will eliminate my position and I will be left with nothing to show for my 20 years of service. I dont want to retire, I just would like to know that the disablity retirement safety net is there. Did I un-knowingly wave my disabilty retirement rights by accepting this “permanant light duty” job?

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