For federal employees with disabilities, the process of retiring on OPM Disability Retirement can be daunting. There are a lot of deadlines and forms to submit, and if you miss one, it could mean you’ve lost your chance at this life-changing benefit.
If you’re not sure what deadlines there are, or if you’re approaching them and feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry – we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll outline the key dates and steps to take so you can make sure you don’t miss out on this important benefit. Keep reading to learn more!
Deadline to Apply
The first and most important deadline you will come across is the deadline to apply for OPM Disability Retirement.
You must apply for OPM Disability Retirement within one year of separation from your agency. Make sure you know what your official date of separation is, especially if you had been on OWCP wage loss or in an LWOP status prior to separation.
If you are still employed or have been separated for less than thirty days, you will submit your application to your agency and if you have been separated for more than thirty days, you will submit your application directly to the OPM.
There are a lot of steps and forms throughout the application process so make sure you give yourself enough time to apply for this benefit before your deadline.
If You Miss This Deadline
The one-year time limit for applying for OPM Disability Retirement is established by law and is not easily broken.
If you miss this deadline and you have been separated from your agency for more than one year you have lost your chance at applying for OPM Disability Retirement.
The OPM will ONLY make an exception if a judge finds you incompetent for the one-year period after your separation, but this is extremely difficult to prove.
Deadline to Appeal
There is also a strict deadline to appeal your case if your OPM Disability Retirement application was denied by the OPM.
If you receive an initial denial on your OPM Disability Retirement application, you will have 30 days from the date of the denial letter to request a reconsideration.
You will have multiple appeal options to consider within these 30 days, each requiring a different action from you.
- You can request the OPM make a new decision based on the evidence already in your application
- You can submit new evidence within the next 30 days
- You can request a 30-day extension in order to take time to gather new evidence, but this must be requested within the first 30-day deadline
If your OPM Disability Retirement application is denied again at this stage, you will have 30 days to appeal to the MSPB board.
If You Miss This Deadline
If you do not appeal your case within 30 days of receiving your denial letter, you have lost your chance to appeal. The OPM may make exceptions based on your physical or mental status, but it is extremely important to have legal representation at this stage to support your case.
If you missed your chance to appeal, you can reapply for OPM Disability retirement if you are still on your agency’s rolls and something about your case has changed since you first applied. It’s important to know why your case was denied the first time in order to avoid a second denial.
It is highly recommended to have legal representation at the appeal level or when you reapply to avoid missing any deadlines and to ensure your case is as strong as possible.
Harris Federal Law Firm has experience helping thousands of federal employees apply for this benefit. We know exactly how daunting these deadlines can be– we want to take the weight off your shoulders and get you the benefits you deserve.
Schedule a FREE consultation today to learn more.