There are horror stories: of people on “disability” who are watched and video-taped, and after having 500 hours of taping, it is edited to show that, within a 2-minute period, it is revealed that you can indeed perform physical feats which your medical disability should restrict.
As an OPM Disability Lawyer who receives daily inquiries concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, people relate such fears to me. However, I am quick to remind such callers on two (2) matters: First, such stories relate almost exclusively to Federal OWCP cases, which have nothing to do with FERS Disability Retirement, and Second, the people I represent have legitimate medical conditions which impact and prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.
There is also an additional Third element in the issue, FERS Disability Retirement annuitants are allowed, under the law, to go out and get another job, and to work and make up to 80% of what his or her former position currently pays.
Now, obviously, any such job should be essentially different, in many ways, from the former job. But the point is that the FERS Disability Retirement is intimately wedded to a particular job, and the inability to perform the essential elements of that particular job. That is where the difference lies between FERS Disability Retirement rules and OWCP cases — the former allows one to continue to remain productive in the workplace; the other does not.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Attorney