There are a multitude of changes transforming the U.S. Postal Service today – from outside economic forces, to greater competition, to the increase of email and other technologies which have created enormous pressures upon an organizational entity which was founded with its first Postmaster General in 1775, with Benjamin Franklin at its helm.
It is, in essence, a dinosaur in a fast-paced world of changing technological features. The idea of the friendly mailman, making personal contact with neighbors – all beginning with the large distribution facilities and processing of mail to outlying communities throughout the night – is being replaced with the reality of crunching numbers: the U.S. Postal Service is an economically dwindling business model, and the reality of the National Reassessment Program (NRP) is a cruelty upon the labor force, but a reality which must be dealt with nonetheless.
While Voluntary Early Retirement programs (VERs) have had limited success; and there are no doubt further plans (rumors?) for other such programs to try and shed the workforce in order to survive; for the everyday Postal Worker in a tough economy – the Rural and City Carrier; the Distribution and Mail Processing Clerk; the Mail Handler, the MPE mechanics, the truck drivers, as well as EAS supervisors, Postmasters and multiple other craft and management personnel who make up the entirety of the U.S. Postal Service: the ultimate question is, What am I to do?
It is clear that the U.S. Postal Worker has been, and will continue to, engage in a single focus of shedding its ranks of all but the most productive. This means, in blunt terms, that if you are a Postal Worker who is unable to perform at the optimal level of capability because of a medical condition, you will be targeted.
Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is an option which must be seriously considered. Even in a tough economy (and this present economic recession shows an entrenchment which may last for many years to come, with fluctuations of small improvements in some sectors, and great devastation in other sectors of the economy), Disability Retirement is and should be a viable option to consider. Receiving a guaranteed annuity of 40% of the average of one’s highest-three consecutive years (60% for the first year), is better than being sent home unexpectedly and without forewarning with a short statement that “no work can be found within your medical restrictions”, and being placed on indefinite LWOP. Further, since Disability Retirement can take 6 – 8 months to obtain (from the start of the process to the approval of an application, at the First Stage of the process), all Postal Employees should consider filing as early as possible. Some indicators as to whether it is the “right time” to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS are:
- Are you on a limited or modified assignment?
- Are you on OWCP?
- Are you out of sick leave?
- Have you been on LWOP?
- Do you have a medical condition which prevents you from performing even one of the essential elements of your job?
- Have you ever been warned for unacceptable attendance or performance?
These and many similar questions may be indicators that it is time to file for Federal Employee Disability Benefits. And – remember – if the National Reassessment Program has not touched your area, yet, it is just around the corner. But that is an understatement: NRP doesn’t just “touch”; it comes down like a sledgehammer.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire