Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing

The Lawyers for Federal Employees

Federal employees have unique rights unlike other employees, and many of those rights are governed by specific laws that are unique to federal employees. At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, our team of experienced federal employment lawyers is dedicated to helping federal employees understand and protect their rights.

Just like other employees, federal employees can face an array of challenges. When these challenges require you to file a lawsuit, an administrative complaint, or a claim for benefits, it is important that you have a knowledgeable advocate on your side.

The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing has experience with all types of legal issues affecting federal employees, including disability claims, discrimination and harassment, whistleblower claims, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other adverse employment actions.

If you are a federal employee, the process for protecting your rights is different than for most employees in the private sector. It is important that you have an attorney with specific experience in federal employee law, not just general employment law.

Our practice is directly focused specifically on federal employee law.

Enforcing your rights as a federal employee frequently involves navigating various layers of bureaucracy.

Additionally, it can often be challenging to determine which agency is responsible for your specific type of claim and what process that agency requires you to comply with.

The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing has experience working with numerous agencies across the federal government regarding federal employee issues. These issues can include complaints or claims involving:

When dealing with claims before these agencies, even small mistakes, such as missing filing deadlines, failing to gather adequate supporting documents, or filing a claim with the wrong agency can be costly.

Having an experienced federal employee lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, our team of federal employment attorneys is passionate about helping federal employees with any legal issues they may face. If you need help pursuing benefits you are entitled to or protecting your rights against wrongful conduct, contact us today.

How We Can Serve You

Meet Aaron Wersing

Federal Employee Attorney

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC. His practice focuses solely on assisting federal employees in a broad array of litigation and transactional matters. Mr. Wersing’s practice includes the evaluation and resolution of a diverse variety of federal employment matters.

Aaron Wersing at Desk

Client Testimonials

  • I can’t say enough good things about Mr. Wersing. He was dedicated to my case and because of his dedication he won my case. I was lost without him. I went to many attorney’s and all of them told me they were unable to help me because the government was to hard to fight against, but not Mr. Wersing. He knew his stuff . If your looking for an attorney who treats you like a person and just not like another number, Mr. Wersing is that attorney. He knows his stuff and will fight for your rights. I can never thank him enough.

    - Sandy | EEOC
  • Aaron Wersing is at the very top of every attorney I have met or dealt with. He is a patient, pleasant and professional attorney who is mission oriented and dedicated to get the job done. He helped me through a very arduous disability process allowing me to keep my self dignity and respect. I cannot imagine working with any attorney other than Aaron Wersing when applying for Fers Disability or any other employment & labor, employee benefits or workers compensation issues.

    - Howard M. | FERS Disability
  • Aaron is not only confident in getting things done, he is very compassionate and caring. He is a true fighter for what he believes is right. My case was a bit complicated but Aaron never backed down. Applying for OPM can be daunting and personal. Aaron has the ability to keep you focused and on track which means he understands how emotional it can be for somebody that has to retire due to medical conditions. Because of Aaron my OPM was approved the first time and we didn't have to do a reconsideration. If you want a good attorney that will fight for you, Aaron is your man. I will be forever thankful.

    - Tammy | FERS Disability

Our Federal Employment Law Library

Empowering Federal Employees To Know and Exercise Their Rights

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What Is the FERS Disability Processing Time?

If you’re a federal employee and can’t work due to a medical condition, your employer has you covered. The federal government’s Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS) offers disability retirement benefits to employees in your situation.  But if you are claiming FERS benefits, you may wonder, What is the FERS disability retirement processing time? After getting the answer to the first question, you may then wonder, why does it take so long? Additionally, is there a way to speed up the process? If you are looking for answers to these questions, read on.  Our FERS disability attorneys will explain what you need to know. What Is the FERS Disability Retirement Processing Time? The turnaround time for a FERS disability retirement application varies from case to case. Sometimes the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can do it in as little as three months. Other times it can take longer than a year. The average time, however, is six to nine months. Many factors affect the processing time.  Not getting a decision within a reasonable amount of time can be more than just frustrating. If you don’t have significant savings or dependents, losing your ability to work can put you in dire financial straits. While you can’t move to the front of the line, you can help ensure you don’t have to go to the back of the line again by properly submitting all of your paperwork in line with the OPM protocol. For a more in-depth discussion of the FERS disability retirement timeline and any related issues, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Aaron Wersing PLLC for help. Our firm focuses on federal employment law, so we know the ins and outs of FERS disability retirement. With our experience, we can help to ensure your application and related documents are properly filed and filled out. Our job is to help you, and we take that charge seriously. Why Does It Take So Long? Several things make this application process take a long time. These factors can also make the FERS disability retirement timeline difficult to predict in a given case. Perhaps the most important contributing factor is that the OPM, which makes these decisions, does so on a first-come-first-served basis. When you submit your application, it is impossible to know how many applications are in front of you. The number can vary widely. Also, the OPM is a sizable bureaucratic network. They are responsible for all federal employees (2.1 million in 2020). As such, the gears of the federal government can take a while to turn. This is unavoidable, but there are ways that may help expedite an application. What Else Might Make a Decision Take Longer? A very important factor in how long your decision will take depends on your status with the agency. If you have already been separated from federal service for more than 30 days when you submit your application, your application is processed quicker. This is because your application goes straight to OPM in Boyers, PA, where it gets processed and issued a civil service annuity (CSA) number. After getting a civil service annuity number, the application goes to OPM headquarters in Washington D.C., where a decision is made. Contrast this with the process that an application from someone who is still on agency roles as an employee, or within 30 days of separation. In such instances, an application will need to go through several offices before arriving at a decision. First, your application goes to the specific agency you work for, to process. Then, many agencies will send your application to their centralized HR facility for further processing. After this point, your application will be sent to Boyers, PA for a CSA number.  How Does OPM Determine FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility? The following seven factors help guide the OPM in their decision-making process regarding your FERS disability retirement application. These requirements are cumulative. In other words, they all must be met. You have a diagnosed medical condition; There is a deficiency in the service your job requires, which can be a deficiency in attendance, conduct, or in the performance of at least one critical element of your position. There is a causal relationship between your medical condition and the service deficiency; The medical condition is expected to last a year or more; The condition was not pre-existing or, if it was, it did not become disabling until after you began serving in your position; Your disability cannot be accommodated; and You cannot be reassigned to another position. If the federal agency you work for can provide reasonable accommodations that will allow you to work with your present condition, they should do so. Similarly, if your federal agency cannot accommodate you in your position, it should reassign you to a different qualifying job vacancy at the agency, if such a position is available. This type of reassignment is known as the “accommodation of last resort”. If you can be accommodated or reassigned, you will not be eligible for FERS disability retirement benefits. Keep in mind that accommodation must actually accommodate your medical needs as long as it will not place an undue burden on your agency, and a reassignment must actually be to a position that you are able to perform with your medical condition and symptoms.  What Can I Do If I Don’t Get a Decision? If a decision takes too long, you may have a right to appeal. Failure to respond is essentially a constructive denial that you can appeal. An administrative law judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will hear your case and determine your eligibility. Follow the steps outlined below to help with the appeal process. The amount of time that is “too long” is not set in stone, so a lawyer can be very helpful in this instance. If your application is taking too long, the best thing you can do is be diligent in your follow-up. Once you submit your application, you should inquire as to your...

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Can You Lose Your Federal Retirement If Fired?

In addition to competitive pay, federal employees enjoy good benefits and a generous pension. What’s more, federal employees with at least one year of service have significant rights with respect to their job security. Federal employees have a reputation for being hard to fire because of these rights and the corresponding processes. Nevertheless, agencies may fire federal employees for a variety of reasons, including poor performance, misconduct, or downsizing. If you’re a federal employee, you’ve probably wondered, can you lose your federal retirement benefits if fired? How Federal Retirement Benefits Work The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), awards retirement benefits to eligible employees. FERS covers employees who started their service with the government after January 1, 1987. The Civil Service Retirement Act (CSRS) covers federal employees who started working for the government before that date. FERS is a retirement program that provides benefits from Social Security, a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and a Basic Benefits Plan. The first two are transferable to other jobs if a federal employee leaves before retirement. These retirement benefits fully vest in employees after five years of service, though annuities won’t begin until an employee reaches minimum retirement age (MRA). For example, the federal minimum retirement age for employees born in 1970 or later is 57. Although the eligibility rules vary slightly depending on service length, federal employees with more than 10 years of service receive an annuity immediately upon reaching their MRA. Employees with 5-10 years of service can receive an annuity starting at age 62.  Federal employees with at least 10 years of service can elect to take an immediate retirement or defer it. FERS reduces immediate retirement benefits by 5% per year for each year the employee is under age 62. Disability and early retirement may have slightly different timelines depending on the employee’s age and years of service. If you have questions about your federal retirement benefits, a federal employment lawyer can provide advice on your eligibility and the benefits available to you. Do Federal Employees Lose Their Retirement If They’re Fired? The short answer is no. Unfortunately, the misconception that you can lose your federal retirement if fired persists even among federal employees. Many employees incorrectly believe that they will lose their federal retirement benefits if the agency fires them. However, the truth is that federal employees whose retirement benefits have vested are all but guaranteed to receive those benefits, subject to a few exceptions. Employees unaware of this may be tempted or pressured to resign if they know they are about to be fired. These employees are often under the wrong impression that by resigning, they can save the benefits they would otherwise lose. This was exactly the situation in Morrison v. Department of the Navy. In that case, the Department of the Navy alerted an employee that an adverse employment action was pending against him. The Department urged him to resign to avoid losing his retirement benefits. Ruling on the case, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) noted that retirement benefits earned over the course of a federal career “are generally available upon separation from federal service, even when the separation is agency initiated.” To be clear, this means that when an agency fires a federal employee—whether for cause, poor performance, reduction in force, or otherwise—that employee remains entitled to any vested retirement benefits. There are very limited exceptions to this rule (discussed below), but for the vast majority of federal employees, they will never be an issue. How Federal Employees Can Lose Their Retirement Benefits As mentioned above, there are only a few narrow circumstances in which federal employee will lose their retirement benefits. Under 5 U.S.C. § 8312, federal employees forfeit their retirement benefits only if they are convicted of one or more specific federal crimes. There are more than 20 in total, each covering an act against the national security of the United States, including: Gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information; Espionage; Treason; Enlisting to serve against the United States; Aiding the enemy; Disclosure of classified information; and Perjury under federal law. Related statutory sections cover additional crimes that would render a federal employee ineligible for benefits. These include: Fleeing the United States to avoid prosecution; Refusing to testify before a federal grand jury about involvement with a foreign government or other interference with national security; and Falsifying information on an employment application about the employee’s previous association with groups advocating for the overthrow of the government. Federal employees who do not commit any of those crimes don’t have to worry about losing their benefits. Can Federal Employees with Voluntary Early Retirement Lose Their Retirement Benefits If Fired? The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) allows government agencies to temporarily reduce the minimum age and service requirements for retirement benefits. Agencies usually use VERA to offer employees an incentive to retire voluntarily, often during a restructuring, downsizing, or reorganization. Rather than involuntarily reducing the number of employees at the agency, it may make VERA offers or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) to willing employees. Unlike with FERS or CSRS, federal employees fired for poor performance or misconduct cannot take advantage of discontinued service annuities under VERA. However, they may still be eligible for a deferred benefit. Federal employment lawyers familiar with government retirement plans can help you assess your options. If you accepted a voluntary early retirement offer from a government agency, a federal employment lawyer can also advise you of your rights moving forward. Hire a Federal Employment Attorney The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing has been helping federal employees with their retirement and disability benefits for many years. During that time, we’ve helped hundreds of clients reclaim their jobs, stop discrimination, and resolve other issues in the workplace.  If you resigned based on false information about the status of your retirement benefits, we can help. Contact us today or call us at (833) 833-3529 for a free case review.

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Discontinued Service Retirement (DSR): What Is It?

A discontinued service retirement is a special type of retirement for employees who receive an involuntary separation from the federal service. In most cases, DSRs provide eligible employees with an immediate annuity payment. However, this annuity payment can be less than what an employee would normally receive. Few federal employees understand the differences between DSR and other retirement types, so read on to learn more about whether DSR applies to you. Understanding Your Discontinued Service Retirement Eligibility There are three main requirements to obtain a DSR. First, you need to have received an involuntary separation. Second, you have to meet certain age and service requirements. Third, you must not have rejected a “reasonable offer” of employment from your agency.  Obtaining an Involuntary Separation The key feature of a DSR is that it only applies to employees with involuntary separations. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) considers several following situations to qualify as “involuntary separations.” Reductions in force (RIF): Reductions in force occur when an agency lays off some employees in response to budget cuts.  Unacceptable performance that is not caused by employee misconduct: This case might seem a bit confusing at first glance. However, there are several situations where an employee performs unacceptably for reasons other than misconduct, like injury or disability. Loss of position due to organizational changes or lack of funds: In most cases, an agency will try to transfer an employee after it changes or dissolves that employee’s position. However, you will be eligible for a DSR if your agency decides to separate you instead.  Transfer of position or function outside your commuting area: While federal employees occasionally have to change offices, the government cannot force them to move outside their local area unless they have signed a mobility agreement.  These are just a few situations that qualify as “involuntary separations.” Contact a federal employment attorney to learn more about whether your situation is an involuntary separation. Age and Service Requirements Assuming your separation was involuntary, you need to meet several other requirements to be eligible for a DSR annuity. First, you need to be at least 50 years old and have at least 20 years of federal service. However, if you have 25 years of federal service or more, you can be eligible for a DSR even if you are younger than 50. In either situation, at least five years of the employee’s federal service needs to be in civilian service. Military service can account for the other 20 years. Another important factor is the retirement service that covers your position. There are two primary retirement systems in the federal government. The first is the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which applies to more senior federal employees. The second (and far more common) retirement system is the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Both CSRS and FERS employees can receive a DSR. However, the requirements and procedures for obtaining a DSR vary between those two retirement systems. The differences are quite nuanced, so you should consult a knowledgeable federal employment lawyer for more information. The Reasonable Offer The final requirement for obtaining a DSR is that you must not have refused a “reasonable offer” from your agency. To be a reasonable offer, you must be offered a position in writing that is: A good match for your qualifications, With your agency (or successor agency), Within your commuting area, unless you have a mobility agreement with your agency, No more than two levels below your current grade or pay level. and  The same service type. The position must also have the same work schedule. If you reject an offer that meets all of these criteria, then you cannot obtain a DSR.  How to Get a Discontinued Service Retirement Assuming you meet these requirements, your agency should automatically provide you with a DSR annuity. But in some cases, your agency may first ask you to provide certain kinds of information to confirm your eligibility.  Receiving a DSR can reduce the amount of your retirement annuity according to your retirement age. Specifically, for employees under the CSRS system, receiving a DSR reduces your other retirement benefits by one-sixth of one percent for every month that you are under age 55 when you retire. For instance, a CSRS employee that retires at age 47 will receive only 84% of their annuity because of their early retirement.  For all FERS employees with a DSR, you can calculate your FERS retirement using the typical calculation for non-disability retirements here.  Want to Learn More About DSR? We Can Help DSRs are poorly understood by most federal employees. In fact, even federal human resources departments can be unfamiliar with DSRs. As a result, your agency may wrongfully deprive you of a DSR after you receive an involuntary separation.  If you want to learn more about DSRs or think that you might be eligible for one, you need to contact a skilled employment attorney immediately. A qualified federal employment lawyer can review your personnel file and apply the law to your situation. They can also help you understand your options and file a claim with your agency. But for obvious reasons, you need to have the right kind of lawyer if you want to maximize your chances of prevailing in court.  If you’re looking for legal representation you can trust, reach out to the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Our team of dedicated legal professionals is highly experienced with federal employment issues of all kinds. And we are dedicated to preserving and protecting your rights as a federal employee. Give us a call today at 866-612-5956 or contact us online today to set up a free initial consultation. You can also set up an appointment with us online and read about our past results.

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