Why would a federal employee who is off work and being paid 66% or 75% of their salary tax free want to apply for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits that pay 60% for the first year and 40% thereafter until age 62? Why take a downgrade? These are questions we get asked a lot at Pines Federal.
The answer is you should not take a downgrade and switch to OPM Disability Benefits if you are already receiving OWCP benefits. However, the Federal Government allows you to have both benefits accepted and then choose the benefit that you want to receive. That being said it does not answer the question. Why apply for disability retirement that pays less if I am going to elect to keep my OWCP benefits?
The answer is because the Department of Labor’s OWCP’s favorite pastime is dropping people from it’s roles to save the government and your federal agency money. They will go to great lengths to remove people from the Federal Workers Compensation roles. With that being said, lets say that you have been removed from OWCP but you are unable to work. What now?
Well, if you have been removed from your position then you only get one year to apply for OPM Disability Retirement. In other words, if you were removed and receiving OWCP benefits and one year has passed since your termination you will be unemployed and receive no income.
The moral of this story is that if you are being separated from your agency and you are receiving OWCP benefits it would be a huge mistake not to apply for OPM Disability Retirement benefits as a back up plan. At Pines Federal we work with numerous OWCP recipients to help them qualify for OPM Disability to hold onto for that day in the future when OWCP decides it is time to save the government more money by kicking you off its roles.