CHCOC Academy: Retirement Disability


Uploaded by USOPM on 17.12.2012

Transcript:
Traci DiMartini: Good afternoon to
everyone in the OPM Auditorium, and good
afternoon to everyone on the webcast. My name is Traci DiMartini. I am the
senior program manager for the Chief Human
Capital Officers Council, the CHCOC.
["CHEE-coe"] We want to welcome you to our December, 2012 academy session
focusing on disability retirement.
Before we get started today, just a few
housekeeping issues. We are webcasting
this program to approximately 1,000 people out in the regional
and field offices. This webcast will be archived,
and will be put on OPM's YouTube site with a link via the CHCOC website. We
will send that information out to you
using our Eventbrite capability, which
is how you received your invitation confirmation.
You are also welcome to
email our office at CHCOC@opm.gov. That's
C-H-C-O-C at O-P-M dot G-O-V. That
will also be the mechanism you can use
to send questions to us from the field
via today's webcast. We have a lot to
cover in two hours. I don't want to spend
a lot of time up here chatting. Those of you who know me know I could. But
I do want to acknowledge a few key
people that make today's CHCOC Academy
possible and the entire Academy series.
First and foremost, it's an absolute
privilege to work for OPM, and specifically
for the CHCOC Academy. Everyone in this
audience has a Chief Human Capital audience
at your respective agency and a deputy.
Those individuals are the ones that are
charged with leading the workforce that serves the American public.
They have a very thankless but
very important job, and to them we are
eternally grateful for their service.
Part of what they do in the council is
to support the mission for training
for all individuals that are involved in
human capital efforts, which includes benefits such as retirement. Often
times you guys are the unsung heroes of your agencies. You're in the back
room doing the work and the only time
people seem to care about you is when they
want to yell at you because something is missing. We appreciate all you do.
We know how critical it is to the mission of the government and we are
here to support you through training such as today's academy session.
Specifically I need to thank my staff who
helped us pull together all the logistics
for today's event. Katera Rutledge, Michelle Guzman and our two details,
Niraj Shah from NASA and Brent Pernack
from Homeland Security spent tireless
hours trying to ensure that all of you
had the information necessary to attend today's event.
On behalf of our executive director, Kathryn Medina, I want to
thank them for their commitment to
the Chief Human Capital Community. I'd
also encourage all of you to please go back to your agencies, and if you
don't know who your CHCO is please find
out, and send them a note of thanks about
today's academy. It's through their
support and encouragement for allowing
these events to happen that we are able to pull together subject matter
experts from OPM to host these very time-sensitive and
critical training events. With that, I would like to introduce
today's presenter and to talk to you very briefly
about why we chose this topic for today.
In case you haven't heard, retirement is a subject of great
interest in the D.C. area this year.
Pause for laughter. Because Lord knows,
in my 12 months here, I have heard more
about retirement than I ever thought I
would in my early 20s. Again, pause for
more laughter. I have to tell you, I
have been incredibly impressed with the
caliber of individuals that work in
retirement services, but most especially
the person that's doing your training today, Phil Gardner from the Benefits
Training division. Phil presented
in September an academy session on healthy
case packages, which was incredibly
successful, and up until today, was the
most widely-attended CHCOC session. We had over 700 people. Today we have
surpassed that. Based on webcast
registrations and the in-person attendance,
we have approximately 1,100 people
participating in disability retirement,
which does support the information we collected in September that there's a
great need for information on this topic.
Phil's going to walk you through a slide show, and then he's going to
invite his colleagues from the
disability retirement arena. We have Eva
Ukkola and Gloria Silver, who are not only supervisors in the disability
retirement shop, but they actually rose
through the ranks and used to process
cases, and now they're supervising those
individuals who have taken over the
lion's share of the work. So those two
ladies, along with Phil, are going to
be able to answer your questions. And in
the event that we run out of time--which
I must warn you we always do, because these academies generate a lot
of conversation--we will allow you the
opportunity to send questions or make connections afterwards via
the CHCOC email address. You will also have the
chance to talk to the retirement staff
after today's presentation, and we
encourage you to use the communication
methods that we sent out for the CHCOC
Academy--I think all of you should have my
email address, and definitely the phone
number of the CHCOC office--to let us
know if you are trying to reach someone.
We are fully supportive and want to
always encourage two-way communication
with the agencies, because you guys
carry out the very important work that
is the backbone of OPM's mission. So with that, I'd like to welcome my
colleague, Phil Gardner, to speak to
you today about disability retirement.
[applause] Phil Gardner: Thank you, is this on?
OK, the great Jimi Hendrix,
an introduction. Hey, John, you want to
take that down a little bit? I'm not
sure where I'm supposed to go now. OK.
Well, good afternoon, everybody. A pleasure to see everybody here today,
talk about disability retirement. Blowing
away the attendance record from the healthy
case BAL session we held a few months ago.
We will be talking today about disability retirement. I've got
some slides I'm going to step you through.
Normally, I take questions as we go, but today I'd like to get to my
presentation, and then I'd like you to
hold your questions for the end. If you
something to jot your questions down with,
please do that. Then I'm going to bring
Gloria and Eva up to answer questions.
They work day in, day out with this process, and will be able to give you
a much better answer than I would attempt to.
That's why I've asked for
some expert assistance today. I'm also
a little bummed out, because John told
me I can't wear my Redskins lanyard today.
After all I went through last night watching the game, ready to die
with it, and then I was very proudly
wearing it today. My boss, Ray, can tell
you, I put most of my stuff away in a box a few weeks ago, so I'm
starting to come back around. At any rate, let's get rolling.
What we're going to do today, we're going to do an overview of
disability retirement. Then we're going
to talk a little bit about the submission
of the applications. One thing I would
like to say up front that we're
not really going to discuss. This is the
interaction between the HR office and their payroll office. I did have some
communications from DFAS ["DEE-fass"] earlier this week--in fact, right up
until this morning--about some very specific interactions between
the agency and DFAS. Unfortunately, we really
can't address that, so what we're
talking about today will be the package
once it comes to us from HR through payroll to OPM.
That's really going to be
the focus of today's discussion. We'll talk
a little bit about some post-adjudicative
matters. Again, if you have questions,
I really would appreciate it
if we could hold them to the end, when I
can get the experts up here to assist me
in answering them. Really, disability
retirement, everyone knows what that is.
It's just an employee benefit. It's for people who are disabled for
useful and efficient service, and
they're unable to complete their normal
career because of a disease or injury. It's
basically a monthly income for such an
individual, to not replace, obviously, their salary.
It's a retirement benefit.
They need to meet, of course, the
statutory, regulatory, and administrative
criteria for retirement. We're going to talk about each one of those
phases of it. First, just the minimum service requirement. I'm pretty sure
most of you probably already know
this--you're benefits professionals. I
recognize a large number of you--but I
just want to cover the basics. 18 months
of civilian service required for FERS.
Must become disabled while serving in the position covered by FERS. And
we do need the person to apply for a Social Security benefit as they apply
for their disability retirement. That's
because there are some offsets to the disability benefit that's payable, if
they are indeed eligible for Social
Security disability benefits. Keep in mind
that someone who applies for disability
retirement isn't necessarily going
to qualify for Social Security disability,
because the criteria's different. It's the difference between being
disabled for a position in the federal
government and something similar, versus
being disabled for any type of work.
The mere fact that someone is eligible
for disability retirement doesn't mean
they're going to qualify for Social
Security disability. Under CSRS, ["sirs"]
it's five years of civilian service. Must become disabled while serving in
a position covered by CSRS. Again, for
CSRS offset employees, we require
that the person also apply for disability
retirement again, because there's
potential offsets to the annuity payable
if the individual is also entitled
to Social Security disability benefits.
The criteria for an entitlement to a disability annuity. First of all, you
have to meet those civilian service
requirements, the minimum requirements.
But then they need to be unable to render
useful and efficient service because of disease or injury in their current
position, obviously, or in any vacant
position in that same agency--at the same
grade, the same pay level--for which
they'd be qualified and which they could
be reassigned to. And, very important, the
disabling condition, must be expected
to last at least one year. There is no
temporary disability retirement division.
We're talking about a total disability
for a service. So we are looking for
at least one year of disabling condition.
Factors in making the decision.
There's seven factors in making a decision.
We're going to cover each factor one by one, but I just wanted to
briefly go over the basics. Is there a
medical condition? Is there a deficiency in service?
Is there a relationship
between that service deficiency and the
medical condition? Is that condition
expected to last for at least one year?
Was the condition preexisting? Or did it become disabling while serving in
a position covered by SERS or FERS? Can the agency provide
reasonable accommodation? In other words, is there
something you can do for the employee to allow them to keep working?
Finally, can the agency reassign the
employee to a vacant position for which he
or she may be qualified for? So those are
your basic factors. Now, one by one. Is there a medical condition? Well,
obviously, to be disabled there needs to be a medical condition. It's one
that is defined as a health impairment
resulting from a disease or injury, and
it includes psychiatric diseases, and
that occurs during federal employment.
So we're looking for a disability
that has occurred during the employee's
federal employment. Is there a
deficiency in service? In other words,
is the persons' performance dropped
off, their attendance dropped off? Has
their conduct dropped off? In other
words, is it less than fully successful
and was not corrected, would it warrant
an adverse action such as a pay decrease,
a reduction in grade, or removal from position? So we're looking for
something that's actually causing a
deficiency in the person's performance,
conduct, or attendance. Is there a
relationship between the deficiency and
the medical condition? We're looking
for that showing that the medical condition
has caused the service deficiency. So having a service deficiency and a
medical condition isn't necessarily
disabling qualified. And what it is, is
if that medical condition has caused the
service deficiency. And is there a finding
that restrictions from performing essential duties from that
position are necessary? In other words, there are
restrictions now. You can necessarily perform; the person can't perform the
duties for which they normally perform. They
are restricted now from being able to do this.
So this is what we're looking for.
They may have a service deficiency because medical restriction prevents
them from performing certain critical
elements of their job. They may not be
at work and able to perform their job.
They are absent and unable to fulfill their duties.
Documented instances of poor
performance or bad conduct, again, that
would be caused by this medical condition.
Is the condition expected to last at least one year? Again, there
is no temporary disability. It has to be at least one year, and the
duration of the condition we'd be
looking at from one year from the date
that the application is filed. So is
this person expected to be disabled for
at least one full year? We're looking for that.
Was the condition preexisting? In other words, when did
that condition start? Were they employed with
that condition and there was some sort of
accommodation made because of that condition?
Or, maybe the condition has been worsened by the job requirements.
So we're looking, again, for a disability
that has occurred during the person's
employment. Can you provide a reasonable
accommodation? In other words, can you do something to help this
employee to continue to be employed? Can
you adjust the job? Can you adjust the worksite?
Is there something you can do in the environment to assist this
person to be able to come and continue
performing at their job successfully? Is there any action you would have to
take under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?
These are the things we're looking for.
Sometimes a condition can be disabling
for one job but not for others. So we
are looking for reasonable accommodation
or maybe, again, there's just certain
conditions within the position they are
currently working that they can't do. Is there some way to mitigate that
with an accommodation? Can the agency reassign the employee to a vacant
position for which they are qualified?
In other words, do you have a position
within your agency where the person could successfully perform? Do they
qualify for a position at the same grade and tenure within
the same commuting area? In other words, you're not
sending the person off somewhere different.
You're not required to create a
position for this person, but is there
something they can qualify for that they could do and not have
to retire on disability? Refusal to accept a valid
reassignment offer can terminate your
responsibility to look for other positions.
So we're looking for this. So, how does the employee apply? Who can
file that application? Well, obviously, the
employee themselves can file the application.
The disabling condition doesn't always preclude someone from
being able to do that. An immediate
family member could file the application
on their behalf. A court appointed or some other personal representative
could file on the employee's behalf. And
then finally, of course, the agency could apply on the employee's behalf.
Where is the application filed? Well,
it's obviously filed with the agency for
someone who is still working. And, up to
31 days from separation from position, they
are going to apply through the agency.
After 31 days you can still allow them to apply through the agency. But
after 31 days you are not obligated. After 31 days of separation they
can apply directly to OPM, but we would
still require cooperation when looking
for any evidence that was required for
the application. So even though the
employee didn't apply through you, you
could still get requests from staff for
information needed. What's the time limit
for filing an application? Well, the bottom line is within
one year of separation. But obviously, an employee who
is actively working for you can apply
while they're still on the agency rolls,
and then they can file it up to one year.
We look at the timeliness from the date of receipt of the application at
either with you the agency or with OPM.
And we do have a mechanism by which we
can wave the time limits requirement if the individual can show that they
were declared incompetent, in other
words, unable to make filing within that
one year requirement. So it can be waived.
Application forms. Well, the first, 3107, which was revised in May
of 2012, is the form for a FERS employee.
Previous additions will be unusable after 1-113.
SERS, obviously just like any other SERS employee, applies on the 2801.
And then all are going to fill out these other forms-the 3112 parts
A-E, the supplement. The A is the applicant's statement, the B,
supervisor's statement, C is the
physician's statement, D, certification of
reassignment accommodation efforts, and
finally, E, the checklist. In terms of responsibilities for disability
retirement, the employee obviously first
has a responsibility to apply for the benefit, to complete documents as
necessary, such as the employee statement,
undergo any examinations that are required for proof of the disability.
They need to provide the proof and they
need to meet the time list of that. So,
in other words, they have to apply
within that one year period. We'll talk
a little bit later about appeals. They
have to make their appeals within the
time limits and such. As the agency, your
job is very similar to any other retirement,
in that you are going to assist
that employee to retire and ensure that
the application is complete. You're going to provide that employee with
an annuity estimate. And you're going to send the package to OPM. And it is
your responsibility, of course, to make
sure that it is a complete and accurate package.
We'll talk a little bit later about some tips for filing
applications and some documentation. But the
bottom line is a complete accurate
package will expedite the processing of
the case because we don't have to stop
and request additional documentation. OPM, so we determine if
the employee is disabled. We receive the application
package, review the evidence, review the
medical statements, the physician's statements, and we determine if that
applicant is disabled. We're going to adjudicate the claim and
authorize annuity payments. Think about this. A lot
of you I know were at the Healthy Case
BAO presentation a while back. Once the
person is approved for disability,
then the processing of the application
becomes very much the same as a non-disability
application, and the information provided in BAL 12-103, which was the
submitting healthy retirement packages
BAL, would apply. Once the person has been approved, then it's the same
type of information we need there with
the survivor elections, life insurance
requirements, the health insurance documents, etc.
But, first we've got to
get to that point. We've got to get the
person approved first. So again, we
adjudicate that claim and then finally
authorize annuity payments. And then
we maintain those annuity payments and we
take post-retirement actions as necessary.
Additional evidence comes in that changes the person's benefit,
or social security information comes
in that maybe makes them subject to an
offset, that type of thing. So we do
maintain that annuity role. Change the
person's address, process a new survivor
election, whatever it is once the
claim is not being paid as an annuitant.
So let's talk about this preliminary application process. Now,
of course, the preliminary
application starts with you at the agency.
The package is put together. It goes through your payroll office.
It comes into the Retirement Operations
Center in Bowyers. How many people have been there now? It's starting
to be a lot bigger number. Anyone just go on the recent
tours when you were in Pittsburgh last week?
Anyone just last week? No. OK, so we had a new series
of tours last week with the fall
festival training up in Pittsburgh. We
had three days of ROC tours. So if you
haven't been up to the Retirement
Operations Center, I really suggest you
go up there and see what this operation
looks like, see what the file area looks
like, and see what we're looking for
when we say we're searching for a file.
Take a look and see what that entails.
This room here might house the letter A for all files. So anyhow, if
you get a chance to do the ROC tour, I strongly suggest you do it. SO
again, ROC receives that package up in
Bowyers, creates the case file, and then
it comes down to the disability branch
where they actually do the processing.
They're going to review that application,
determine if the applicant is disabled.
If we need to, we will develop for additional medical
documentation-missing supervisor statements, missing
employee statements. Or maybe just the
documentation isn't sufficient. And then, finally, we will notify the
applicant and the agency of the decision,
be it an approval or a disapproval. We
send out the notices. The agency gets
a copy, as does the employee. First we're
going to look at the agency actions first on an approval and then on a
disapproval, of course. So once you get
notice of approval of the disability,
you're going to separate the employees
soon as practical. Well, what does that mean?
Well, usually it's by the end
of the pay period in which you receive
that approval notice. But that employee
can elect to separate out after they expire the sick leave. So if they
still have sick leave to use, they can
use the sick leave up and then separate.
So then, you're going to send the file package through to payroll. They
are going to cut the standard form 2806, the 3107 or, excuse me, 3100 as
appropriate for, be it a CSRS or FERS case.
And they're going to send all that package and the supporting
documents back to OPM. The disability branch is
going to receive that final IR and all
the associated documents. In term pay
will be authorized if appropriate. And
then the case goes to Claims one where
the application package is reviewed for completeness. Now, remember, when
I say reviewed for completeness, now I'm
talking about completeness in terms of a retirement case file now. We've
already approved the disability. Now,
essentially, this disability application
is now just a retirement package. It's subject to the same information
we need for non-disability. Again, the
life insurance documentation, health insurance documentation, non-coverage
service documentation for deposit time.
Anything that a regular retirement case
file would be developed for, the disability
case would also be developed for. So if it's required, we're going to
develop for missing or discrepant information, just like we
would on any other case. We would go to the appropriate
channel for what we need. If it's some missing documentation, we may go
directly to the applicant, some we may
come to you to ask for. It's going to depend on what it is. We're usually
going to do whatever is going to be the
most expeditious manner of getting that
information to us. So sometimes, for instance, if it's missing health
documentation, for instance, rather than going
to the agency, we may go directly to the carrier and get what they need.
You're not always going to hear from us
if something is missing. So once that
claim is complete, in other words, now
the application has been approved, we've
reviewed the file and determined that we have all documentation necessary
to process the case, so then we're going
to go ahead and authorize the regular disability payments. And again, the
process, very similar to non-disability.
We're going to authorize treasury to
pay the accrued benefit up through the
date of the end of the month through when we're making the authorization,
unless it's after cutoff, in which it would be good through the end of that
month, less any interim payments that
would've been received by the applicant
during the period of time. We pay them
the adjustment check. Again, just
the same as a non-disability retirement.
On the disapproved application,
again, disability is going to notify the
applicant, and the agency, for that matter, of the specific basis
for that disallowance. In other words, exactly
why the claim was disallowed. And we're going
to provide them reconsideration rights.
And what the reconsideration right is, it's an internal appeal
process, essentially, and the person has
30 days from the date of that letter
to apply for reconsideration, to request
reconsideration of our decision. Sometimes the denial may be more not
because the person isn't disabled, but
because we don't have sufficient evidence
to support the application. So it may be all we need in response to the
disallowance is additional evidence. But it
may be that we're saying that we're
reviewed all the evidence and we find the
applicant is not disabled. We give them
30 days to request reconsideration. So again, now the person
requests reconsideration. The case comes into our
reconsideration branch and they're going
to review any additional evidence submitted by the individual. They are
going to review the evidence that was on
file and the basis for the denial and determine
if that was appropriately denied or not.
They can either agree with the finding, in which case another
notice will go out, or they can reverse the
finding and advise disability to approve
the benefit, in which case it would go
down the avenue of an approved case.
So if they do affirm the agency denial,
now the next appeal avenue is MSPB. I know that slide says 35 days. I
think we were thinking of giving time for the mail and everything. But it
essentially must be received within 30
days of the date the applicant receives
that letter, or the date of the letter
if it was somehow later than the date the applicant receives it. It needs
to be received within 30 days. And then
MSPB would do a similar thing. They would gather all the evidence, make a
decision as to whether they affirm or
vacate the decision. So, you'll notice the
final thing there, US Court of Appeals
for Federal Circuit. You'll hear sometimes,
and I know I've used this phrase
before telling someone, "Well, I'm sorry.
You've exhausted all administrative appeals that are available to you."
Well that means you've gone through
initial decision, reconsideration, and
even MSPB, or maybe you didn't do one of those steps timely. That doesn't
mean the applicant doesn't have another
avenue of appeal. They can actually go
to the US Court of Appeals as well.
OK? I'm going to talk just a few minutes
about tips for submitting applications,
and then we're going to have a lot of time for questions and answers. I've
got a feeling there's going to be a lot
of those, because we'll have some from
the Internet, correct? OK. And then the
rest will come from people right here?
OK. So again, probably one of the most important things is making sure
the medical documentation is complete,
that it covers all facets of the
person's condition. It must be dated and
signed and on a physician's letterhead.
So we need complete medical documentation.
Make sure that it contains specific information to show why that
applicant is not able to perform their
duties and how long those restrictions may last.
In other words, are we talking
about at least one year of disability?
Make sure that those medical reports
provide specific information. In other
words, it needs to be very specific
to that person, not general information,
specific information. All references
enclosures, make sure they're included
in your submission. If you say such and such is attached,
it should be attached. Agency physician recommendations.
If there's any agency physician recommendations in there, they should
be in the case and they should be well documented.
Agency certification or accommodation assignment efforts must
be completed, must be fully complete,
must be signed. Supervisory statements,
they should agree with the statements regarding accommodation and the
reassignment efforts. We need to have a
copy of the person's PD. That always
has to be in the file. For first cases
in particular, the certified summary of service, we need to make sure it
shows the date the employee was on leave
without pay for a worker's compensation
because they can accrue their benefit at a higher rate if they were on
worker's compensation during a period
of leave without pay. We need that. Let
me go back here for a second. One thing
that was stressed to me, often the problems with disability retirement
applications is either the incompleteness
or the information doesn't jive. In
other words, the physician's statement
doesn't agree with what the person's
saying, or what the supervisor's saying.
Again, just make sure that the
supervisory statements agree with those
statements regarding accommodation,
reassignment efforts, service deficiencies,
that kind of thing. And then finally, on tips, these tips here, these are
really for any retirement case, disability,
non-disability. But all fields on the application have to
be completed in full. They must indicate that it's a
disability application in Section A.
Worker's compensation in Question C of the
2801, which is the SERS application,
Section F of the 3107 FERS application
must be answered. We must have that question
answered about worker's compensation. And the Schedule C must be attached,
if applicable. In other words, if they say they've received worker's
compensation, we need to see the Schedule C.
The survivor election in Section F and D, respectively, must be
indicated, regardless of the marital status.
In other words, the fact that someone
is not married does not mean that they
don't have to make a survivor election.
They still need to make that survivor election of a life-only annuity,
even if they're unmarried. Spousal
consent must be provided when married.
Applicant less than full survivor. If your
married applicant elects less than full,
disability retirement application,
non-disability retirement, doesn't matter.
You still must have the spousal consent.
The election on that application must agree with that spousal consent.
One other thing, I know you've
heard it before on the health [inaudible
34:19] , the date that the notary signs
it has to match the date that the spouse
signs their consent as well. There's no other way to know that they were
actually present and saw the person make
the signature. Finally, that court order question, Section 2. In Section
E and C, respectively, on the 2801 and
3107, must be answered. Again, I think
I said this earlier. Once the case has
been approved for disability, it's
essentially a retirement case file now,
and anything we're looking for in a
non-disability retirement file, we need
to have in the retirement file, or
the disability retirement file as well.
Let's talk just a little bit about post-retirement actions. An approved
disability continues unless there's a medical
recovery finding made, which is actually
a medical finding prior to age 60, or it can be by annuitant request.
An annuitant can request to be found recovered.
That annuity is going to terminate one
year from the date of the examination which caused the finding
of medical recovery. There's another phrase,
restoration to earning capacity. What that means is this person is now
able to earn 80 percent of the current
pay of the position from which they retired from, within a calendar year.
Again,
it's prior to age 60. In that case, the
annuity terminates six months after the
year the restoration finding is made for.
If someone is found restored their
earning capacity in 2012, they're going
to receive their annuity for six months
in 2013, and then it terminates.
Talk just a little bit about reemployed
disability annuitants. Disability annuitants can be reemployed in any
position they're qualified for, just
like a regular annuitant can. However,
just a couple of things could terminate their disability payments.
One is that an annuity terminates upon
federal employment after either a medical
recovery finding has been made or
after the restoration to earning capacity
finding is made. Again, if you go back to the previous slide, if one of
these two events occur, and the person
is found either restored to earning
capacity by virtue of earning 80 percent
of their current pay, or the current
pay, rather, of the position from which
they retired, or if an actual medical
recovery finding was made. If they get
reemployed subsequent to that finding,
the annuity doesn't continue for the year for the recovered person, or for
six months for the person who restores
his earning capacity. It terminates at
the end of day prior to reemployment
in that instance. There's one last thing
we'll talk about, about recovery. There's a thing called administrative
recovery finding. This is reemployment
at the same grade, pay and tenure of the position that the person retired
from, but again, prior to age 60. It's
evidence of recovery. If someone's able
to be reemployed in a position making the same thing they were making, if
they retired full-time, they're reemployed
full-time, same grade or equivalent grade, same pay or equivalent pay,
that's evidence that someone has been recovered from their disability.
The annuity in that instance, when the person's
reemployed, you notify us. When we receive that notification, if we find
the person administratively recovered,
we're going to make the finding, and the
annuity right terminates at the end of
the month after we make the finding.
It's a prospective finding. We don't go
retroactive and cause an annuity payment.
The person should be having salary offset while they're reemployed,
and then we make the finding and the
salary offset would terminate. The person
would now become an employee again. The exception is if that employee's
on worker's compensation, and their annuity is suspended because of the
worker's compensation, then we're going
to make the finding retroactive to the
date of employment. Again, there's no
annuity overpayment to occur. The person
becomes an employee essentially on the
date of employment, if we find that employment to cause an administrative
recovery finding. Again, the salary
offset applies prior to the termination
of that benefit, in the case of someone
who's not receiving worker's compensation,
obviously, because they wouldn't be
getting an annuity. Annuity rights upon
termination not due to reemployment. First, we're talking
about if that person, we
talked about the restored earning capacity.
We talked about the recovery from disability.
If that person's
annuity does terminate, that individual
may be entitled to an immediate benefit.
That would be if the person was at least 50 years old, with 20 years
of service, or 25 years of service of any age when that recovery finding is
made--excuse me, when that annuity terminates.
Then, they would entitled
to get a discontinued service retirement,
based on an involuntary separation that would commence right after the
disability annuity terminates. In the
case of a FERS employee, they could be
entitled to an MRA plus 10 at the time
their disability annuity terminates. And then they could either postpone
it or take it immediately with the age reduction.
Sometimes they may not be entitled to an immediate annuity, but
they're entitled to a deferred annuity
at age 62, and that would be if they had
had, in the SERS case obviously, they
would've had five years of employment.
Also, that annuity can be restored prior to age 62, upon a medical exam
showing that a recurrence of that
disabling condition has occurred, or any
year that the person's earnings have exceeded that 80 percent
threshold we talked about. The first of the year after
their earnings drop below 80 percent, their annuity can be restored. There
are some avenues to have a disability
annuity restored after it's terminated.
There's some avenues to get a new annuity
right after a disability annuity is terminated. A SERS annuity can be
restored if they're not entitled to an
annuity upon separation. Now, keep in mind this.
Generally, now we're talking about annuity rights when
they get reemployed. A SERS person is reemployed
in a manner that terminates their annuity.
Their annuity can be restored if that annuity terminates, or if that
employment terminates, rather, provided
that they're not entitled to a benefit
upon termination of their employment. Now, for a SERS person, that would
generally mean if they were reemployed
within the first year of their annuity.
They would meet the one out of two if
they were reemployed in that first year,
they're automatically going to meet
the one out of two. If they're reemployed
after that first year, then if they
work for one full year, they'd meet the
one out of two requirement. I guess the importance of that is it could be
an immediate or deferred. It doesn't
have to be an immediate annuity. Someone
who is reemployed, and then the
reemployment terminates, but they have
earned a new right to an annuity, be it
immediate or deferred, they can't get the restoration.
It's going to terminate.
FERS, the annuity generally can't be reinstated after reemployment because
they don't have a one out of two requirement.
They're going to be entitled to
some annuity upon termination. Otherwise,
once their reemployment terminates,
they can re-retire, just like anybody else.
And then they would be entitled to a new annuity right, based on
the law that would be in effect at the time they separate. Again, that
would be immediate or deferred. A brief
talk about worker's comp. Annuity
payments are suspended while someone's in
receipt of worker's compensation. Very
similar to how a person can't get full salary and worker's compensation
at the same time. Same thing, annuity
payments are generally suspended while
in receipt of worker's comp. Now, that's
not if they're getting a scheduled award
or just getting medical benefits. I'm talking about an actual, monthly
worker's comp benefit other than scheduled.
Credit for service while on worker's compensation is after retirement.
Sometimes someone's annuity, or they're
receiving a disability annuity, it's suspended because they're receiving
worker's compensation. They get reemployed
following some point after that, and
they're looking to get credit for that
time that they spent on the worker's compensation list. Went through a
lot about this about 10 years ago,
especially with a certain unnamed agency.
What happens is to get that service
credited, or excuse me, to get that period
of worker's compensation credited, there
has to be a new annuity right. In other words, if the person's only
entitled to a supplemental annuity upon
reemployment, after reemployment, there's
no annuity right. That period of leave
without pay for worker's compensation,
after they've separated for retirement,
can't be allowed. However, if the
disability annuity terminated upon their
reemployment, and they've now got a new right to annuity, now that period
of worker's compensation could be credited to the new annuity, as if it
was done while on leave without pay, even though it was essentially while
employment was terminated, but it's
treated as leave without pay. That would
be true if the disability annuitant, who
was reemployed, worked for five years
and got a redetermined annuity as well,
then they could also get credit for that
worker's compensation. I just wanted to touch
on the worker's comp angle a little bit.
I think that's really the basics of what I wanted to talk about today.
What I'd really like to do now is have Eva and Gloria come up here
and sit at this table, in front of these
nice microphones here. And we'd like to
field some questions, because I know there's
probably a lot of questions out there.
If I could have them come on up and join me.
[silence] Traci: Can you hear? Thank you. How we're going to do
this, because we are webcasting, and we want to make sure that any
questions live from the audience are able
to be heard via the webcast, please
wait until myself or Michelle or Brent
comes to you with a microphone. We're
going to start with some of the questions
that have come in through the webcast.
While the ladies are answering, we will get to you in the audience, and
we'll alternate. Again, if we run out of time for questions, we still will
solicit them through thechco@opm.gov.
Before we start with questions though, one
quick commercial I forgot to mention. You all received an evaluation. For
those of you that are on the webcast,
you will be receiving an electronic version
of the same evaluation at 2:30 via email.
Please fill out the evaluations.
They are critical to our analysis
on how the program went, and also help
us plan for future academies in 2013.
You are allowed to be brutally honest,
because they are anonymous surveys,
but if you want to talk about how cute the
CHCO staff is, my name is spelled with an I.
It's Traci with an I. We're going to start with one of the
questions, and again, we'll get to them
in order, and we'll alternate between
the web and in person. Please don't speak
in the audience until we get to you with a mic, just for
purposes of the webcast. The first question I think is
pretty interesting. Can you guys please
describe to the audience what is the
approval rate for OPM disability claims?
Gloria Silver: The approval rate
is usually in the mid-80 percents. Woman
1: What's the timeframe for either
approving or denying a disability claim?
How many days from you all getting it from, or months, you getting it from
us, to the final adjudication? Gloria:
I wish I could give you a concrete answer
to that question. What we do now is
we try to process them as soon as possible.
We used to have a timeframe from receipt within 90 days, but there are
always changes such as reduction in staff
and things that can change, which make
the time for processing the case, a little longer. Traci: Hold on one
second, I'll be right there. Sorry. Woman
2: If someone's terminal, is there
something we can put on the top of it,
or is it OK for us to put a cover sheet
saying that this employee has a terminal...?
Gloria: For the terminal cases, from the date that we receive it in
the office, it's processed within one day.
And then the approval notice is
faxed over to the agency. Woman 2: How
would you know it's terminal? By the
doctor's notes, or if we put something...?
Gloria: There's something that's
already attached when it goes to Boyers,
Pennsylvania, and they attach the note to it to let us
know that it's terminal. Plus, they send us an email telling
us that those cases are on the way. Traci: You had a question? Phil, can
you grab the web questions up there? One
of the follow-ups that was on there for the ladies in disability is, what
are some of the issues that you see from the cases you receive from the
agencies that maybe they could remedy or
fix to help the processing go quicker?
Eva Ukkala: We see a lot of missing forms, and we see a lot
of insufficient medical. I'll just have one medical
report, and it's conclusory. It'll just
say John Smith has this condition. It doesn't give us any of the history or
any of the test results how they came
to reach that finding. Woman 3: Hi there.
We use the FACES estimate system to do most of our computations. I
find that when we have a preliminary
disability and we submit that in, and we
have our estimate in there that maybe we've already done for the employee,
once it's in the system, it seems like
it gets pulled, so that when we get the
approved disability, we can no longer
get into FACES and do a final estimate
on that individual. Could you comment on
that, why that happens that we can't get
back into the FACES estimate system
to do the final comp? Phil: That sounds
more like a systems glitch. I know that
the way FACES is set up is once a person
is separated, they migrate from the RBE, which is the Retirement Benefits
Estimator, to the RBC, which is the
computational system. I'm assuming that
it must be being migrated, which takes
your access away. I'll jot that down as a
note, and see if I can talk to a FACES
team about that. You've got it? Great.
Traci: Can we do a web question now?
Phil: Sure, let's do a web question. We
know that disability retirement begins
the next day after the last date of pay.
OPM pays monthly, but how long
is it currently on average, to get the
interim check issuance process started?
Gloria: Once we do the approval, the case is sent to our prep team.
That is within our disability office, and they in turn go out to the agency
and request the last day of pay. As soon as they receive the last day of
pay, then they will put the applicant in a pay status. Normally, I'm hoping
the majority of them is within 30 to 60 days from the time that we receive
the last day of pay. Phil: Just a
follow-up, can you share what the average
timelines are currently from OPM's receipt
of the email of last date of pay for a
current employee, and the issuance of the first
interim disability check? Gloria: Same thing.
Phil: Same thing? OK. Traci: Hold on, we're walking back over.
I lost my partner. She's making me do laps in the auditorium. Woman 4: Hi.
I recently had an employee who resigned
in lieu of removal, and it was due to poor performance because of a
mental disability. This was back in May.
He was approved for disability recently, but in the interim since he
was separated he had to enroll in TCC to have
health insurance for himself and his family.
Once we received the approval, I was at a loss because this
was the first claim I'd processed where
somebody had actually resigned. I spoke with somebody at OPM to try to
find out, because certainly his annuity
would go back retroactive to his last day
of pay, which means that, I'm assuming,
he would get a refund from TCC. How would that work? Is that something
that OPM would coordinate with NFC, or
is that something the employee has to take upon himself once the
disability is approved? Gloria: Well, I'm going
to try to speak from a question I had from someone. I believe it's the
responsibility of the person to contact
TCC concerning the refund, since we know
that they're going to want their health
insurance reinstated back to when the
benefit begins. We can verify that for you.
Traci: Before you leave, if you could make sure we have your contact
information, we'll pass it on to the
retirement office. Phil: Yeah, definitely.
I think we should take that as a follow-up, and make sure
what the current process is. Traci: We have another web question.
What's the purpose of the offset in the annuity for a first
annuitant because of SSA? Phil: It's actually in the law.
It's in the law that the...
[microphone feedback] John, should I be using the microphone over here?
OK. I'm just walking all over the place now.
OK. He's got it fixed. Traci: While you were doing that, the second
part of the question is, could you cite the regulation policy
law that governs this? Phil: Well, yeah. I happen
to have it right on the top of my head.
[laughter] Phil: It's amazing the
things I keep up here! No, the law requires
that offset. I'm assuming that it's because...the only thing I can assume
is that it's the way that FERS is set up to be the three leg
stool with the disability. I know there's alternate comps,
60% of average salary the first year,
less than 100% of the disability payment.
I mean that's right in the law. Can I
cite it off the top my head? No I can't.
But I'll be more than happy to provide it.
Traci: We'll research
that and we'll post it with our Q&A. Woman
5: I have a question just to clarify the last day in pay status. So, if
you have an employee that's applying
for the preliminary disability retirement
but we're still paying them, like
we're still advancing them leave until
we get the approval, what is the
actual last day in pay status? Is when
we get the approval from OPM? Gloria: The last day that they
get their actual pay. What was the last day of pay?
That's the actual last day of pay. Woman
5: Before the advanced leave situation.
Gloria: No. No. Woman 5: OK, bear with me, people!
This is my first time!
[laughter] Gloria: If you are in a leave
status, or even if it is advanced
leave, you are actually being paid a check.
So it's the last day of pay that
your pay terminates, your last day of pay.
Woman 5: OK. Thank you. [question
inaudible] Traci: [speaks off mic] The
question was, can they have advanced
leave when they're applying for disability?
Phil: That's a pay and leave question.
Traci: OK. OK. What we'll do is again it'll go--I'm going to note, first
off, I'm going to escort you out of here,
because I don't want them beating you up.
[laughter] Traci: I have got your back.
But, the beauty of being right in OPM is I can also track down Jerry
Mikowicz and get to pay and leave and we
can get you an answer. I just need to make sure.
Don't leave unless you leave me your email address
so we can do follow up. Hope? Well, Mary Lou, I can,
but I'm also trying to demonstrate John
Berry's customer service expertise.
Plus, I'm going to know who to torture
afterwards if you ask me too many
questions, then I'm going to reciprocate.
Who had...? Woman 6: I didn't understand the question that you read
prior to this other issue here. But I don't know if this is the
same question or not. My question is, if somebody's
taken off disability and reemployed, their
FERS employee, their salary is offset.
Is there FERS supplement offset as well?
Just the salary or is it
salary and their FERS supplement payment?
That's my question. Phil: The reemployment could affect the annuity
supplement, for sure. It would be not the
full salary, but the actual earnings could affect it.
So yeah, it could affect the
annuity supplement. [speech off mic] Traci:
Should the payroll office know that?
Phil: Well, your payroll office isn't the
one making the annuity supplement payment.
What would happen is we would get the information, make
the adjustment after we receive the information.
So the adjustment to the annuity supplement would be from OPM. Traci:
We have one part follow up question
and then another question in the audience.
Woman 6: The reason I asked is because I have a senior official who
is a reemployed annuitant and when he came back to us two years
ago as a reemployed annuitant, he wasn't eligible.
He hadn't met his MRA.
He just met his MRA, so he's just now receiving the first supplement.
His question is nobody's contacted me, is my salary going to be offset
in addition since I'm not getting the first supplement. I've contacted
OPM and DOI payroll and nobody knew the answer.
Phil: OK, well first of all, the annuity supplement is not part of the
annuity that's used to offset the salary.
In other words, when we give you a salary offset amount, that does not
include the annuity supplement. It only includes the actual annuity,
OK, the earned monthly annuity. So it's
not like it's going to be double hit,
but what could happen is that the annuity
supplement is affected by earnings
just like a Social Security benefit is,
and it could cause a reduction in the
annuity supplement that we would start
paying, that we'd be paying. Does that make sense? Woman 6:
So I need to contact you.
[laughter] Phil: If you'd like to, absolutely. No. We should be
informed of the reemployment, right, so we can give you the salary offset
amount, for starters, OK, and this would
be true for disability, non-disability.
It doesn't matter. OK, now, with
the disability annuitant, they're not going
to be receiving an annuity supplement,
right, because they're not entitled to one.
So it's a little off topic.
Hey, I tell you what. Let's do this.
When we finish up here, come see me afterwards, and I'll take down your
information, and I'll hunt it down for
you since we are off topic a little bit, OK?
Traci: We've got one more question in the audience, and then
we're going to switch
back to web questions. Woman 7: Hello.
I have a question about the beginning of the application process. I
have a person in Hawaii who has Lou Gehrig's, and the ASHA person in
the local office there wanted to--I'm not really sure if it was like urged,
but strongly encouraged him to take
disability retirement, and I thought at
the national headquarters level that was
inappropriate of the ASHA person in the local office to be
so forceful about it. So could you clarify what are
the ASHA person's role in suggesting disability retirement
or is done voluntarily by the person? The
employee has to elect it. And also could you clarify
the slide where you said how does an
employee apply for disability retirement?
You also put down the agency can be a part of that process. How exactly
does the agency do that? Would they
fill out the application as well, or if
you could just provide the clarification,
that's be great. Phil: Well, I'll
start with someone strongly urging someone
to take a disability. That's probably not appropriate, because the role of
the agency counselor is to counsel the employee to let them know that
that's out there as an option, not
necessarily...I don't think we want our
agency benefits officers coercing people
[laughs] into retiring for disability.
So that's that part of it. Gloria: OK,
and I couldn't understand your other part about the application. Eva: You
were asking if the agency can file for someone?
Woman 7: On the slide it says, "How does an employee apply?" And it
said, "Who may file an application? It
says, "An employee, immediate family member,
court appointed guardian, or person or representative," and then it also
says, "agency." So can you clarify that?
Eva: Yes, the agency can apply, but there are special provisions in the
regulations for that, and they have special
procedures they have to go through.
One of them is you have to have issued
removal notice, and because you're saying the person is not capable of
filing for themselves you have had
to go out and try to find a representative
from their family to file for them. But it's outlined in the regulations.
They're certain steps the agency
has to take, and if they don't meet them
all, we're going to remand them all back to the agency until they do. But
this is where the agency is actually signing all the forms and
doing that for the person,
and we probably only get one or two a year.
It's very rare that it happens, because, for one, the agency can't.
In this day and age, the agency has a really hard time going out and
getting the medical evidence that we need to support the application.
Woman 7: Thank you. Traci: Hey, Faye, I've got a web question for you. Phil
mentioned that all medical documents
that the employee states are listed must
be listed in the package, and that the
reasonable accommodations and supervisory
statements must match. Who is responsible
for making sure this is done?
Gloria: For the matching information? We
just want to make sure, because a lot
of times we get conflicting information.
On the supervisor statement, the
supervisor says they're accommodated, and
then on the agency accommodation and
reassignment efforts form, that person
says no, we can't accommodate them. It's like, what is it? We
have to get that clarified. Traci: It sounds like what
they're saying, Phil, I remember when Phil
was doing this part. Is this something
agencies should reconcile before they send it, or is this something that
lawyers will flag and send back? Can you
explain where that is in the process?
Gloria: Technically, the agency should,
because we're going to have to go back to the agency and ask, well
you're saying this, but the other person's saying this. Which is it? We
need to know one way or the other, because when the person's reviewing
the case, if one person says they're
accommodated, that's one of the criteria
you have to meet. If the agency's saying on the one hand, they are
accommodated, and on the other hand, they're
not, we have to make sure that we're clear on
that, because we have to meet that criteria.
Phil: And it is the agency's responsibility to make sure that the
application is accurate and complete. Traci:
Let me give you another web question,
since that one was on the agencies. The
agencies want to know why do application
packages take as long as nine months to process?
Gloria: Right now we have
staffing issues. We just hired 10 people,
so that should be getting better. They're in training right now, so the
time processing should get lower soon.
Phil: I think that also highlights the need for a complete and accurate
retirement application, is with limited
resources, the more applications that
require rework or additional development
is going to add to the processing time.
Woman 8: Yes, because I have one
that's 11 months, and I've been trying
to reach out to the person who's actually dealing with the case, and I
haven't been getting a response back. Gloria:
Where are you? Woman 8: I'm right here.
Gloria: Just give us the information and your name and your
email, and we'll check on it. Woman 8:
Great, I appreciate that, thank you. Woman
9: Good afternoon. On the topic of
ensuring that an application is thorough
and complete, is it appropriate for the agency HR person to notice that a
piece of medical documentation is not answering the questions that it needs
to answer to fulfill a disability retirement
application, and for us to ask for more?
Or do we just need to send it on to OPM, knowing that that medical
documentation is not what you need? Eva:
I would go ahead and send it in, but at the same time, you might want to
go ahead and tell them that you think they might need more, just to get the
process rolling. To get the paperwork
in, I would go ahead and forward it to
us, and then just tell them that we probably need more updated
medical information. Traci: Before we go on, Phil,
there was a request. The ladies from
disability, can you give your name and
title, please? And could you move that
central microphone a little bit closer,
so they can pick you up on the webcast?
Thank you. If we could start with you, so they know? Eva: My name's Eva
Ukkala, and I am currently the program
manager of the disability retirement branch.
Gloria: I'm Gloria Silver, I'm the manager of branch one.
Traci: Thank you.
Go ahead, Phil. Phil: This one's from the web. Does refusal to
accept a valid reassignment offer also
terminate the employee's eligibility for
a disability retirement? Gloria: Yes. They have to meet all seven criteria.
Woman 10: Could you repeat that? Phil:
Does refusal to accept a valid reassignment
offer also terminate the employee's
eligibility for a disability retirement?
The answer was yes. Gloria: It would
be a denial, it doesn't terminate. Phil:
It doesn't get via denial. In other
words wouldn't get... Gloria: Approved.
Phil: Approved in the first place.
Traci: Here's another web question. An
employee submits two retirement packages.
One is voluntary, one is disability. Which
application do we submit to OPM first?
Phil: You should always submit the
voluntary first, because the voluntary
can be processed, and then the disability retirement submitted
afterwards, because the disability
retirement has up to one year from the date
of the separation to be approved. I believe
submitting a voluntary application
after a disability retirement application
actually terminates the disability application.
It's in effect withdrawing it.
Traci: Can we get confirmation
from our disability experts? Gloria: It
depends on if the applicant wants to
be in the pay status as soon as possible.
If they're meeting the eligibility for retirement, they should submit a
voluntary application, and then the
disability application will be forwarded
to the disability to make a decision on that application. We do receive a
lot of applications where Boyers would
contact us and say we have a voluntary
application out there, send us the case.
We'll send them the case, and it has to come back to us. To save time, if
they know they meet the qualification to retire on a regular retirement,
that should be done first. Traci: Rob has
a question out here in the audience.
Rob: Do you want us to submit the health
benefits and life insurance forms only after approval, or with the
preliminary packet? Gloria: That's not
part of what we request. That would be
by the prep teams. We don't know if
it's going to be approved or denied. I
would at this point say to submit them
when you receive the approval letter. Traci: Another one from the audience.
Woman 11: On the application, you have
ample space for an HR specialist's
name, fax and email address. Why is it
sometimes the agency have to call OPM
if the person who is working on the case
knows that there's not something there?
What is the process? Should I just keep calling you, or if you all find
something wrong, I'm sitting there waiting
for you to call me. I don't know.
Sometimes I find myself having to call
and call and call, and then I find out
you don't have a 2810, or you don't have 1152.
But I'm saying that if the
specialist who's going through the case
knows that there's something wrong, but
they're putting it to the side and getting
back to it, or are they calling me that day?
I just wanted to know what the process of something is if you
don't have something you need. Gloria:
When the case file comes into the office,
there's a screening process. We have
customer service staff that screens the
case to make sure that all the required
documents are in the file. If it's not
in the file, they send out letters to the agency.
I don't think they email.
Now, we give 30 days from the time that
that is sent out to the agency for them
to supply us the missing documentation.
After 30 days, the case is assigned to a specialist, and they will go out
to the agency and request the missing documentation. There is
a screening process. Yes, it goes out by mail.
Traci: OK. We're going to do a web question
real quick and then we'll come back
to the audience. "Is it ever advantageous
for an employee to exhaust large amounts of sick leave after receiving
an approval?" Gloria: I wouldn't know anything about that. Phil: I think
only the employee can decide whether
it's advantageous or not. If you think
about it in one respect, if they exhaust
their sick leave they're getting full pay.
If they don't exhaust their sick leave, they're getting
credit towards a benefit. In many cases, the sick
leave doesn't serve to increase the
benefit because the person is entitled
to a guaranteed minimum benefit. So I think
that's a decision the person should make.
But I would think in general it would be more advantageous to
take the salary, to take the sick leave pay.
Woman 12: OK. I have two questions.
First, could you talk a little more about voluntary retirement versus
disability retirement? Because the way
I was taught doing retirement was that
if a person was eligible for voluntary
retirement they could not or should not apply for disability.
That's the first question.
And the second question, I've had a couple of versions when
OPM approves the disability what the
retirement effective date should be for
the disability. Last I've heard the
retirement effective date should be the
date of OPM's letter of approval. Phil:
I'm not sure I understand the question.
I got the first part. Woman 12: OK.
When we receive the approval from OPM and we have to process the personnel
action for the disability retirement,
what should the effective date for that
disability retirement be? Gloria: So are
you referring to the separation date? Woman 12: The separation date, yes.
Phil: Oh, OK.
Again, I think we said
earlier the person should be separated
as soon as practical after receipt
of that notice, usually the end of the
pay period after receipt of notice of
approval, unless they are going to use
up their sick leave. As far as the
first question goes, there's nothing that
says submitting a disability application
stops a voluntary application. I don't
know if we see as much of people
applying for disability now subsequent
to a voluntary retirement as we used to, because in years past, the IRS
rules were different and disability retirees qualified for
a sick pay exclusion,
which I'm not sure if they do anymore.
So I'm not so sure if there is as much advantage to being disability
retired as opposed to voluntary retired.
Now, there may be some state tax advantage
in the state they happen to live in for a
disability retiree versus a voluntary.
But the deal is to get the voluntary first because now you've got your
annuity payments started. Then we always
say apply for that voluntary first
and then apply for the disability. Again,
the reasons for someone wanting to be
disability retired as opposed to voluntary,
well, it's really a personal decision.
There used to be some very big tax advantages to it. There may still be
some local and state tax advantages to it.
Woman 12: All right, thank you.
Phil: I wanted to hit one that came in
off the net as well. It says, "Are you
saying that no straight CSRS folks
ever have to submit an application for
social security?" And then it says, "Is it possible that they've worked
enough non-CSRS quarters at another job
to be social security eligible? They may also meet the duration of work
definition for disability application
criteria on the SSA website?" No, what
we're saying is that if you are FERS or CSRS offset you have to apply for
disability before we'll even start to process your claim. Again, because of
the social security offset provisions
under both CSRS offset and under FERs.
Under straight CSRS there's no negative
effect on your annuity or no offsets applicable to your annuity for having
a social security disability retirement.
So we're not saying don't do it.
We're just saying you can apply for
anything you are entitled to. What we're
saying is that for CSRS offset and FERS
you have to apply for disability first.
Traci: Another web question while Rob is making his way up the aisle.
"What happens in the case of an individual's
death while waiting on the review process for disability retirement? Is
this considered death in service?"
Gloria: If we have not made a decision
on the application then yes, it's
considered death in service. Phil: I think
there also may be a difference between
FERS and CSRS. I may take that on as a
follow-up as well. Traci: OK. Don't worry.
I'm collecting all the cards. I know that no one on the web is doing
this because they're captivated, but my folks that are sneaking out of the
auditorium, my bodyguards are out there
checking you to make sure you hand in your evaluation. [laughter]
Traci: Rob, go ahead.
Rob: If a FERS employee is
currently receiving disability from OPM
and from social security as well and
is capable of being reemployed, we know
that social security would terminate,
but the individual wants to be reemployed
on a part-time basis. Would the restoration to earnings be looking at
80% of the fulltime rate or 80% of the
rate once it's prorated, or the salary
once it's prorated? Phil: For an 80% determination we're looking
at actual earnings. So not the salary before
annuity offset, but the salary after
offset, after earnings. Rob: So you would
base it off the part-time actual earnings.
Phil: Actual earnings. Rob: OK. Thanks.
Traci: OK. Bill, do you have an agency one?
Phil: I do. "I have an employee that is submitting
for disability retirement. The employee has previously
went on a disability retirement back in 2006 and returned to duty in 2008.
Since returning to duty, he has been
employed with several agencies, and I do
not have a full service history for him.
Can I submit his package/paperwork even without having his full service
history prior to his previous disability
retirement?" Well, first of all, you should have the full service history
available because you should have the official personnel folder. So I don't
think that should be an issue. You should have the full service history.
I don't know how you could do an estimate
without a full service history for that, matter of fact. Yeah, I mean
you've got the OPF. You should have a
full service history. Is there anything
else in that that you think needs to be addressed? I'll read one more.
"If a FERS employee files a disability
retirement, can this employee file a
regular retirement application and retire
as an MRA plus 10 while waiting for the disability retirement decision?"
Again, I know we prefer they apply for
the non-disability retirement first. And
I have it as a follow-up because it keeps
hitting something in my head saying something about applying
for a non-disability after applying for a disability
is a problem. So I'm going to say we always recommend filing for the
non-disability first and then filing for
the disability, because I'm taking that
one part of it as a follow-up. Traci: OK.
Are there any more in the audience?
Phil: I have two more here, I think. Woman
13: How are you? I have a question. If there are any outstanding deposits
or redeposits at the time they get
approved for disability, and then doing a
recalc at 62, how does that come into play?
Phil: We're going to give them an opportunity to pay any deposits
and redeposits at the time we process their application. This is more of a
retirement application process disability question.
Woman 13: The disability one? Phil: Yeah. I mean we're going to
give them the option to pay for the
retirement,for any deposits or redeposits
due at the time of retirement. Now, as
far as how it works, if it may not
affect the first step or second step of
disability, I'm not quite sure and I'll
take that as a follow-up. Traci: OK. Another one in the audience.
Marylou? Marylou: Yeah.
The question I have is
when people are talking about applying
for regular retirement and disability,
they are getting confused. They're
talking about people going out on early
out and applying for disability at the same time.
If they're eligible for regular retirement, they
can't apply for disability. The disability section
won't even look at them. Any of the stuff
for companies like GRB and FRB, if the person already is eligible for
regular retirement, the system won't even come up with a
disability estimate for them. Gloria: OK. When I was
addressing the part of the question is
based on the applications that we receive
in the office, that we have applications
for disability, retirement, and of course the early out ones.
We do receive those.
But if they know on the early out applications they want to
apply for regular retirement, then they
should apply for that, because we will
receive those cases of disability, and
then we would get the information from
Bowyers, Pennsylvania State. And I
have a voluntary application here. Can you
forward us the case file? So that part
was specifically addressing those cases
that we received in the disability office.
And the number that we have received here lately, are the ones that are
dealing with the early out. Marylou: Right.
That's what I'm saying.
It's the early outs, not the regular retirement.
Traci: Another web question that came in.
"What is the significance of the condition being preexisting when you
make the disability determination?" Eva:
How can you say you are disabled now?
If you were hired with it, you said you
could do the job with that condition. So you have to show that
it's significantly worse. Traci: OK. So would that
be a medical documentation issue? Eva: Yeah.
It would be something like somebody has Diabetes and you don't
have any secondary end organ damage at the time you are hired. But after
several years of work maybe you have kidney failure, you lose
your vision or something. Then that's OK because the
condition got worse. But, say you were
hired, say you were blind or something,
you already had that condition. You said
you could do the job with the condition.
So why would you be disabled now if you had it when you were hired?
Traci: OK. We have time. We're going to
do one more auditorium question, one more web question, and then we have
some very brief closing remarks. So is
there one last call for an audience question?
OK, going once. You guys are efficient.
Up, there we go. Email addresses.
We have a case we need to ask
on, or do we need to answer our liaison
that we have over here? Gloria: I can give you my email address. That would
be Gloria.Silver@OPM.gov. Eva: And mine
is Eva.Ukkola@OPM.gov. Traci: And I want
you both to know that I will email Ken
and tell him that I threw you under the
bus, so then he can then yell at me.
I have to tell you, before we go, we'll
go to one last question, and I want Phil will address this
more in closing remarks. We have had a tremendous
amount of success with the regular retirement process procedure in 2012
because we started with these types of forms and communications, and also
Boyers and retirement services here have
done an unbelievable amount of work
in the last 11, 12 months, to streamline
their processes. While you may leave
here and be a little frustrated or have
even more questions, that's OK, because
now it's disability will be also refining
their processes, and this doesn't have to be the end of the discussion.
But when you guys come up at the end, and you want to talk to these ladies,
be gentle, because if you hurt them,
you're just reducing the staff. [laughter]
Just remember that. We had one more
question in the audience, and then Phil.
You're fine now? OK, go ahead, Phil.
Phil: The last question I had from the web
audience came from the Department of Army.
It said in reference to annuity being terminated, if the employee
takes employment, receiving at least
80 percent of their previous pay, does
this apply strictly to employment with
the federal government? No, it does not.
It's an 80 percent of earnings. It could
be self-employment earnings, it can be
private industry earnings, it can be
government earnings, it doesn't matter.
Where the government employment comes into play is that if you've
already been found restored to earning capacity because of earning
80 percent in the previous calendar year,
and then you are subsequently employed
in the federal government, that's what
terminates your annuity immediately. But just in terms of the restoration
to earning capacity, 80% earnings of any type, be it self-employment, be
it working for AT&T, whatever it is,
that's still showing that you're restored
to an earning capacity, again, before age 60 because you can earn up to 80%
or more than 80% of the current pay from the position you retired from.
Traci: Great.
I want to allow the ladies on the panel to have just
brief closing remarks. Can you all maybe just
share with your agency colleagues, what
could they do on their end to help facilitate a quicker process on the
disability retirement? What would be your
dream package to reeve, if you will?
Eva: Just make sure that all the forms
are complete, everything is signed, and that the medical matches the time
the person is claiming they are disabled
and the time the supervisor says they
have the performance deficiency, because
we have to have that relationship.
So we have to have the medical correspond
with the service deficiencies. So make sure they have the medical going
back that far and try to get us the most current medical you can. Gloria:
Make sure that on some of the cases the
agencies, you sign them but you don't spell out your name. So when we fax
the information to you, we want to make sure
we are faxing it to the correct person.
And in some of the forms, obviously we need the fax number. If you
could, make sure we have that information.
Traci: That was very easy.
You're very easy.
Phil: I was going to say the dream application is one that is withdrawn.
[laughter] Phil: I had to get that in.
Traci: I'm telling you. That's why
I invite Phil back to do these academies.
It's like comedy. On behalf of the CHCOs and the deputies in the
academy, I want to thank Retirement Services for giving us
more of their experts to have an academy. I would like to
thank all of you both in the web field,
or in the field and regional field
offices here, for taking time because I
know it's a lot to take two hours out
of your day to do some training and have
a discussion with your peers. Two more
asks that I do have for you, though, is to fill out your evaluation forms.
Then, if you're going to stay after and
give us your email addresses, please do so, or you can email them to the
CHCO email that we shared. Again,
it's chcoc@opm.gov, and we will get it
to the correct people. We thank you for your patience. Your feedback is
very important to the process and I am
going to stand up here and protect these
two ladies, because they are valuable to the OPM team and we are very, very
grateful for their time. Please join me in thanking them. Phil: You're not
going to protect me? Traci: No, Phil, you're on your own. Phil: Just real
quick, I'd like to say this CHCO Academy
thing has turned out to be a really good thing.
Since the CHCO Council got
suddenly interested in retirement benefits
earlier this year, I've seen more movement in terms of people getting
resources, more attention being drawn to
this and improvements in the whole
application process. I'd like to thank the
CHCO Council for getting this ball rolling.
We always say we're in benefits and we always get the
short end of the stick. Well, I think we're starting
to get a little more notice, and I think
we're starting to get a little more notice within our agencies, and maybe
that'll translate into some more budget
and help us do this job better. So thanks to everyone for coming out and
supporting this, and we'll see you next time.
Traci: Thank you. [applause]