opm disability retirement reinstatement

Many federal employees think of retirement as a permanent concept. However, disability retirement through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is not necessarily permanent. OPM will occasionally review individuals’ disability retirement to see if their condition has improved. If their condition does improve, then OPM may revoke their disability retirement. You can also lose your OPM for several other reasons, such as making too much money.  

Whatever the cause, losing disability retirement after many years away from the job market can be devastating. So it’s understandable when our clients ask us about OPM disability retirement reinstatement. In this article, we’ll cover all the critical issues surrounding disability retirement reinstatement by OPM, including how you can lose benefits, what you can do when you lose benefits, and how you can reinstate disability benefits.  

If you or a loved one have lost your OPM disability retirement and want it restated, then you’ll need legal assistance. Set up an online consultation with our experienced federal disability retirement lawyers today by contacting us online or giving us a call at (800) 801-0598.

Is OPM Disability Retirement Permanent?

As you might have guessed by now, OPM disability retirement is not permanent. Congress designed it as a provisional measure that was meant to support a federal employee who is unable to perform their duties because of a medical condition. You don’t need to prove that your disability is permanent to get disability retirement.

The critical factor when you apply for disability retirement is whether your condition will last more than one year. But because your condition’s permanence is not a condition of getting disability retirement, you shouldn’t necessarily expect to receive disability retirement for the rest of your life. 

After it initially approves your disability retirement application, OPM will periodically review your case. Reviews are especially common during the first five years following retirement. These reviews attempt to assess whether your medical condition has improved to an extent that allows you to return to work. Typically, OPM will review your case every year after the first year of retirement by sending you a detailed questionnaire

To continue receiving disability payments, your physician must provide a letter with the following information:

  • Current clinical findings from a recent physical examination,
  • An update on the status of the specific medical condition that forced you to retire,
  • A clinical assessment of whether you or others would be at risk if you had to perform the essential functions of your old government position, and
  • A clinical prognosis of your condition and plans for future treatment. 

If they find that your condition is unchanged after the first one or two reviews, the frequency of reviews may decrease. And after you turn 60, OPM will no longer review your file unless you request it. 

We have found that OPM generally will not be as strict as OWCP might be in finding that you continue to be disabled. We have also yet to have an employee who was kicked off OPM disability for medical reasons.

How Can I Lose My OPM Disability Retirement?

There are five major ways where you might lose your OPM disability retirement:

  1. Medical recovery. If OPM determines that you have medically recovered from your disability, they will terminate your benefits. As we discussed earlier, this termination usually follows a medical examination or review of your case. 
  2. Restoration to earning capacity. Should your income from employment exceed a certain threshold, you could lose your benefits. Specifically, if you earn over 80% of the current salary of the position from which you retired, OPM may conclude that you are back to your original earning capacity. 
  3. Failure to comply with OPM requests. When you receive the OPM questionnaire we discussed earlier, you must provide a complete and timely response. Failing to fully comply with these requests or leaving out critical medical documentation in your response can lead to loss of benefits.
  4. Reemployment in the federal government. Naturally, if you return to a federal position at a similar or greater level than the one you had when you retired, OPM will discontinue your disability retirement benefits. This is because the primary basis for your disability retirement (being unable to perform your job due to a medical condition) no longer applies. 
  5. Fraud. Making false or misleading statements about your medical and employment status can lead to the loss of your disability retirement benefits. It can also lead to civil penalties and even criminal charges. 

Finally, you can lose your disability retirement payments if you begin receiving benefits from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) under the Department of Labor. Regardless of the reason you lose your disability retirement, it need not be the end of your benefits. 

Featured Case Result

WHAT HAPPENED: Our attorney negotiated a $100,000 settlement for a medical provider who was not provided telework as an accommodation due to their medical disabilities preventing long commutes to work.

Is OPM Disability Retirement Reinstatement Possible?

Yes, reinstatement of OPM disability retirement is possible under certain conditions. 

There are three possible scenarios:

  • Medical relapse. If the medical condition that originally qualified you for OPM disability retirement worsens or returns after you lose your retirement benefits, you can apply for reinstatement. You’ll need to provide medical documentation demonstrating that your condition has again made you unable to perform your job duties.  
  • Reduction in earnings. OPM can stop your benefits because you exceed the 80% earning capacity threshold. If your earnings later fall below this threshold, you can request the reinstatement of your disability retirement. 
  • New medical condition. Technically, you could reapply for disability if another medical condition appears that makes it impossible for you to perform the core duties of your job. Regardless, you’ll have to carefully follow the reinstatement procedure to have a chance of receiving your benefits once again. 

“A change in leadership brought me the worst of luck with a suddenly very hostile work environment, but pure serendipity led me to Pines Federal. I am so lucky to have found Pines Federal which not only has considerable expertise in federal employee cases, but also has the compassion to recognize the emotional impact on their clients.”

– Jennifer H.

How to Apply for OPM Disability Retirement Reinstatement

Applying for reinstatement of your OPM disability retirement requires you to follow a specific process. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for reinstatement. 

  1. Understand why you lost your disability retirement benefits. The pathway to reinstatement varies according to the reason you first lost benefits. Make sure you clearly understand what happened and how you can address the issue before you take action.
  2. Gather documentation. Once you understand why you’re applying for reinstatement, compile all necessary documentation. This includes updated medical records and statements from your healthcare providers confirming that your disability has recurred, worsened, or remains at a level that prevents you from performing your job duties.
  3. Write a reinstatement request letter. Draft a letter to OPM requesting the reinstatement of your disability retirement. In this letter, explain the reason for your request, whether it’s due to a relapse in your medical condition or a decrease in earnings, and attach all relevant documentation to the letter.
  4. Complete the required forms. You may need to complete specific OPM forms depending on your reasons for reinstatement. These can include medical examination forms, tax forms, or a statement from your current or former employer.
  5. Contact your former employing agency. If you were reemployed in a federal position after your disability retirement, inform your agency about your reinstatement request. They might need to provide information to OPM regarding your employment status.
  6. Submit your request. Send OPM your reinstatement request letter, along with all supporting documentation. Make sure to keep copies of everything you submit for your records, and also send these documents via a method that provides tracking and confirmation of delivery.
  7. Wait for OPM’s decision. OPM will begin reviewing your case after you submit your paperwork. Yet this review can take some time, especially if OPM decides to request additional information or clarification.

Finally, seek assistance when you need it. It’s easy to find yourself over your head during this process. In most cases, it’s beneficial to seek assistance from a federal employment attorney. 

How Can a Federal Employment Attorney Help My Disability Reinstatement Application?

A federal employment attorney can significantly enhance the prospects of your OPM Disability Retirement reinstatement application, For one, an attorney can meticulously review your medical and employment documentation so that it meets the stringent requirements of OPM.

Second, they can draft a compelling reinstatement request letter so that all necessary evidence and arguments are presented clearly. Third, an attorney can help you complete and submit any required forms accurately so that there’s less likelihood of delays due to errors or omissions. In cases where OPM requests additional information or clarification, your attorney can respond promptly and effectively as your advocate.

If any legal challenges or disputes arise during the reinstatement process, a talented federal employment attorney will apply their skills to overcome these challenges and provide you with robust legal representation. 

Questions about your OPM Disability Retirement Reinstated? Request a consultation online Or, call our office at (800) 801-0598

Let Us Be Your Advocates When You Apply for Disability Retirement Reinstatement

As you can see, overcoming the loss of disability retirement is not an easy process. There’s a lot of paperwork to submit and plenty of documentation that you have to gather. Even a minor mistake can mean the difference between a successful reinstatement and a financial catastrophe. 

The outstanding team here at Pines Federal dedicates itself to educating, protecting, and fighting for federal employees. We understand how important it is to re-obtain disability retirement when your income drops or your medical condition returns. We also know how stressful it can be to function when you’re having to cope with these events. So don’t go it alone. Instead, contact Pines Federal today.

Our attorneys have extensive, in-depth experience representing federal employees in all kinds of legal situations, including OPM disability retirement reinstatement. Let our outstanding and passionate professionals guide you to success today. Call us at (800) 801-0598 or submit an online message. Let’s secure your financial future today and get you the peace of mind you deserve.