Disability retirement is an employee benefit intended for employees who are unable to complete a normal career due to disease or injury. To be eligible for retirement disability, employees must meet prescribed statutory, regulatory, and administrative criteria.

The objective of our audit was to assess the Postal Service’s effectiveness in processing disability retirement applications.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers disability retirements for the Postal Service and the federal government, including approving/disapproving disability retirement applications. The Postal Service’s Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC) and Eagan Accounting Service Center (ASC) are responsible for helping employees complete the disability retirement application, collecting the applicants’ financial information, and submitting the application to OPM.

In fiscal year 2017, there were 23,426 Postal Service employees who retired, which accounted for about 25 percent of all federal government retirees. In addition, about 2,000 more employees applied for disability retirement.

What the OIG Found

The Postal Service is effective in processing retirement disability applications and submitting them to OPM in time to meet its informal timeliness goals; however, as of September 30, 2017, there were 1,195 employees who had been waiting over six months for an application decision from OPM. Of those employees, 398 had been waiting for a decision for over a year. We statistically sampled 94 of the 398 applications submitted by these employees. The Postal Service processed 95 percent (89 of 94 cases) of disability retirement applications in time to meet its informal goals.

Postal Service Human Resource management meets with OPM monthly to discuss various human resources issues, including the status of disability retirement applications. According to Postal Service management, OPM does not always provide sufficient information regarding disability retirement application status, nor does it always notify the Postal Service of application decisions.

When disability retirement decisions are not rendered timely, there can be an adverse impact on the employee, including loss of income and loss of health and life insurance benefits. Of the 94 applications we reviewed, 20 employees had been in leave without pay status for more than one year and had their health and life insurance benefits lapse. Additionally, the Postal Service cannot hire new employees to backfill positions occupied by employees in a leave without pay status while waiting for an application determination.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommend management continue to coordinate with the Office of Personnel Management to address disability retirement application delays, and if necessary, escalate concerns to Office of Personnel Management oversight bodies, such as Congress, the Government Accountability Office, and the Office of Personnel Management Office of Inspector General.

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Comments (8)

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  • anon

    I worked at the postal service from September of 1985 to 1994 and am currently on social security but am wondering if I have any benefits coming from there due to being disabled since I left and was the reason that I left. Can I please receive an application?

    Feb 10, 2019
  • anon

    Yes its been a while since I heard from opm but I realize its a it's a process but hopefully I will be hearing from opm soon waiting patiently thanks Robert Majchrowicz clerk USPS best place to work in the world

    Dec 19, 2018
  • anon

    I was injured on my route and each day is worst than the day before

    Nov 04, 2018
  • anon

    HRSSC sent me a letter stating they forwarded my disability retirement application on 24 February 2018, after several emails and phone calls, OPM verbally acknowledged they received my paperwork on 6 April 2018. To date, 7 September 2018, they have NOT yet provided me with a CSA number. In phone conversations OPM has stated that CSA numbers are not assigned until they are assigned for processing, a CSA number has been assigned but they cannot provide it to me because my case is not being processed yet, I am in a “no pay” status so they cannot provide my CSA number, CSA numbers are only provided when processing is complete. OPM has lately stated that due to security issues future communication and information is being sent to my address on record. I have used all my paid leave and have been on LWOP for the last two months.

    Sep 07, 2018
  • anon

    Still waiting on retirement packet less then month of 1 year discharge date to apply

    Aug 02, 2018
  • anon

    Hello, Ralph. Thank you for your message. We recommend contacting your union representative if appropriate. For non-union workers, you can contact USPS Human Resources at (877) 477-3273.

    Aug 02, 2018
  • anon

    The Post Office does not take care of their Veterans who serve in the Military. It's still the good old boy attitude in Port Arthur Texas.

    Jun 12, 2018
  • anon

    It was predicted that at the beginning of the year to get something within the mail regarding the pension ;until now nothing has happened ...thank you

    Jun 11, 2018