Q. On Jan 3, 2003, I sustained an on-the-job injury while I was working as a Special Agent. My surgery was delayed three months, forcing my leg to get worse and develop severe arthritis. Months later, I was advised by my doctor that due to my injury and the delay in treatment I would never be able to perform my old job again. I advised my superiors, who told me to put in for retirement just in case they could not place me in another federal job. Since the surgery, I have been forced to use a cane in order to get around but there are no other restrictions placed upon me. During the time I waited to be placed in another job I worked light duty hours at the office so as to have some income. After working my graveyard shift in February 2008, I received a call stating that in two days I would be medically retired. I then asked if they had looked at another agency to place me so I could continue to work, to which they told me an abrupt no, and said “they had not looked for a job for me with this agency or any other.”
I have a few legal questions in regard to this:
1. Shouldn’t I have been offered any federal job that I could physically perform? I had always been told that if you were hurt on the job it was your agency’s responsibility to find you appropriate work at comparable pay.
2. Is there anything that can be done so I can again serve my country? I was hurt while performing my job and despite my injury I can still be of use to the federal government and not tossed aside like last weeks garbage.
3. What are my options? I have heard of ITCAP and Preferred and wonder if I qualify for that as well.
I would like to resolve this at least in my mind so I can get back to legitimate work for the good of our country and my family.
A. It is your agency’s responsibility to make a good-faith effort to place you in a vacant position of equal grade or pay within its ranks and, failing that, to find one for which you qualify at a lower grade or pay. It also must take steps to see if there is a position for which you would qualify within another facility in the local commuting area. You’ll find all this spelled out in OPM’s chapter on disability retirement at http://opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C060.pdf.
As a disability retiree, you are free to apply for any position in the federal government for which you are qualified. However, the law doesn’t require your former agency or any other agency to offer you a position. On the other hand, if you are found to be recovered from your disability or restored to earning capacity, you may be eligible for a job referral under the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan, which would give you priority over other candidates from outside the agency.