CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Universe of the Possible, Part II

When avenues are closed off, the human psyche tends to shut down; and when grounds manifest fertile regeneration and bountiful splendor, the endless state of the possible opens like the gaping eyes of a child in excitable wonderment.  That is why internet companies attempt to artificially recreate atmospheres of creativity and prior glory days of unbounded imaginations.  But whether simulating a couch plopped in one’s basement or garage, and making it appear as if the environment is similar to those past dawns of tinkering with one’s imagination in the unheated, primitive conditions of one’s youth, is questionable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is faced initially with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to continue in the vocation and career choice of one’s following, the limitations which the present condition places upon one’s future often seems daunting.

But there are options available.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for those options to open up; for, once the Federal or Postal employee obtains an approval for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that (now former) Federal or Postal employee may go out into the private sector and earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, on top of the Federal Disability annuity. Many start their own businesses; others perform consultative work or work part time, thereby controlling the stresses and the extent of activity able to be tolerated within the restrictions of one’s medical conditions.

The avenue of the possible can only reopen once you recognize the reality of the probable; and in order to tap into the fertile imaginations of a brighter future, the roadblocks once observed must be moved in order to travel down the path of viable alternative routes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Tides and Turbos

Tides represent the natural ebb and flow of a rhythm in nature which occurs beyond the capacity or power of Man to control; turbos are mechanical inventions which exponentially increase the power of a machine to attain heights of artificial prowess previously unmet.

Both inspire a certain sense of awe.

The pull of the waters, though gentle in the lapping of waves and the gradual increase and decrease of the land becoming overtaken by the waters, then receding, is nevertheless an unstoppable phenomena; and anyone who has sat behind the wheel directing an engine with turbo power understands the sudden boost of energy and speed which can be wrought.

Both represent a force; the former, one which cannot be controlled; the latter, one which can only be directed.

How we approach life, our philosophy and manner, often parallels tides and turbos.  Some merely accept and go with the flowing rhythm of tides; others try vainly to control that which cannot be subjugated.

For the Federal and Postal employee who faces a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s life and vocation, it is often a lesson to heed; for if one’s personality has been throughout akin to the tides of nature, it is often easier to accept that a change is necessary; on the other hand, if life has always been characterized by one’s attempt to control and contain, it may be that resistance to the inevitable is something which one must contend with.

Knowing one’s self in the turmoil of change is often the first step in a successful process.

As filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a major event in one’s life, knowing first what must be embraced is often the initial, and most difficult, step in the process.  Whether the enjoyment of watching the tides, or the thrill of feeling the turbos, characterizes the life of an individual, will aid in preparing to formulate the next step in a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Subtraction

The principle of abundance implicates progressive and unending addition, resulting in the exponential explosion of accumulation; and in a society which preaches acquisition as the hallmark of success, the reversal of that idea — of subtraction — is anathema and constitutes a failed life.  Subtraction is to do without; and the reduction of acquisitions is considered tantamount to failure, where success is measured in terms of the quantity one possesses.

The young man begins life with little more than change in his pocket; and from there, the trajectory of what is considered a qualitative life means that there is always addition, as opposed to subtraction.  That is why it is difficult to accept stoppage, or negation, and lessening; because the normative value we accept from the beginning is tied to accumulation.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to progress in one’s career, it becomes a difficult time because sacrifices must always be made, and the negation of progressive accumulation becomes a fact of life.

But one must always look upon such events in their proper perspective, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often the first positive step.  It is the stoppage to the trajectory of decline, and allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to stabilize a chaotic situation, and to move forward with some semblance of financial security, and the hope that a new career or vocation may be entered and engaged down the road.  For, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the annuitant to earn income up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, in addition to the receipt of one’s OPM Disability Retirement annuity.

Subtraction for the Federal or Postal employee need not be forever; to live without is merely a temporary situation, and the trajectory of the modern success principle may be reinvigorated yet.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Stark Reality

Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher who recognized the imposition of human categories, structures and conceptual perspectives upon the stark reality of the world around us.  Within such levels of an uniquely human perspective, we shape the barren reality and impose our perceptual constructs.

It is not something we have any choice in; by being uniquely human, we see the world in a human way, thereby bringing to it a comprehension and order which our species can embrace, just as other animals may encounter the world from its own unique perspective.  Thus, the world according to Kant became one of bifurcation — between the “noumenal” world which was unfiltered and unknowable, and the phenomenal world of our own “making”.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must always keep in mind the two parallel universes — the one which we hope for and often “make”, and the one in which we must survive.

When a medical condition impacts a person’s life to such an extent that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the phenomenal world of our making may include:  Hope that the Federal agency will treat us fairly; hope that the medical condition may improve or go away; hope that one’s work will not suffer as a consequence.  But in the stark reality of the noumenal world, one must recognize the unknowable:  Agencies rarely show a sense of sustained loyalty; medical conditions being what they are, will often remain on a steady course of debilitating progressivity; and one’s medical condition almost always impacts the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Walking about with a uniquely human perspective is something which we cannot help; gliding through life with self-deceptions is something which, while also uniquely human, one cannot afford to engage in for too long.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Continuing Care

A medical condition never has a simple solution; depending upon the nature, extent and severity of the condition, it must be “managed” and attended to throughout one’s life.  Similarly, while “filing” for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is an “event” which may constitute a series of actions which results in the “approval” of a Federal benefit, the benefit itself must be “managed” and cared for throughout a process of continuing retentive procedures.

One cannot assume that once the benefit of OPM/Federal Disability Retirement is obtained — given the hard fight which one must engage in — that the process is thereby over.  That is the reason why the foundational building-blocks which form the underlying administrative process — of the decision of which initial medical conditions to include in one’s Statement of Disability; which medical evidentiary documentation to include; how one should linguistically characterize the impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, tasks, positional duties, etc. — is of great importance in establishing the pattern of management for the future.

For, as other issues, both economic and medical, may potentially intrude upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity (i.e., whether one has earned income above or below the 80% rule; whether one has been restored medically such that OPM could argue for termination of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, etc.), it is important to maintain a stance of managing one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit throughout one’s life, until one reaches the bifurcation point at age 62 where it becomes “converted” to regular retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unplanned Event

One always likes to think of the present state of affairs as one resulting from the systematic planning put in place years ago — as in the proverbial “comfortable retirement” that was set in motion through wise investments and retrospective prognostications which were presumably based upon sage advice.

But life rarely works that way.

Yes, the analogy of the treadmill, or of taking one step forward and two steps back, all apply.  There is a famous line in a British rendition of “Emma”, in which the father mumbles beautifully, “Life is like going from one bowl of gruel to another”.

Those who come to a point of contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, often find themselves in a similar situation.  One works tirelessly, thinking that such hard work will reward itself by growing one’s nest egg, where savings develop over time; where within-step-increases come because of meritorious behavior; and where loyalty to, and from, one’s agency is strengthened and established because of the time, effort, and hard work one has, and will, put in.

But then the unplanned event surfaces.

In the beginning, one can fool one’s self and say that it is merely temporary, that it will all go away, and that one needs only to survive for the next coming day.  But the unplanned event can be just as effectively destructive as the planned one, and the results just as final.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is best to see the neutrality of one’s circumstances — for, it matters not whether one “planned” for a medical condition; rather, the point is that, once accepted as a fact, it is the extent and effort of planning after the revelation of an unplanned event, which will make all the difference in one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Working while Waiting

Because of economic necessity, it is often advisable for Federal and Postal employees who are filing or have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS to continue to work, to the extent possible, without damaging one’s health.  

Often, agencies will “accommodate” a Federal or Postal employee during the waiting process — utilizing the term “accommodation” in a loose sense of the word, and not in compliance with what the law requires in terms of the concept of “accommodation” for purposes of Federal Disability Retirement.  Thus, in the loose sense of the term, an Agency may temporarily accommodate a Federal or Postal employee with light duty work, suspension of one or more of the critical elements of one’s position (such as traveling, lifting certain heavy things, standing for extended periods of time, etc.), and that would be helpful to allow for the income to the Federal or Postal employee during the long administrative process.  

However, one should also be aware that, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management, any back pay will be awarded only to the last day of pay — whether it is for a full week’s wages or for a dollar.  

Thus, since back pay for the first year will be at a rate of 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years, it is wise to calculate and see whether the amount of work one is performing falls below the 60% mark.  If it does, then it might be prudent to go out on LWOP.  On the other hand, it may well be that economic necessity will dictate one’s decision and force the issue, and that would be fine — so long as one makes a decision on matters impacting Federal Disability Retirement benefits based upon full knowledge and comprehension of all of the relevant facts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Working while Waiting

The question is often asked whether a Federal or Postal employee is able to, allowed to, or can work, while filing for and awaiting a decision upon, a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management.  The subtle distinctions to be made between “able”, “allowed” and “can”, of course, are done purposefully.  

Within the medical restrictions, condition and extent of severity of the medical conditions, most Federal employees are able to continue to provide some level of productivity within his or her position with the Federal government.  

Whether a Federal or Postal employee is allowed to work while having filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a separate question, but for the most part, agencies allow the employee to continue working — sometimes in a light duty capacity (especially where certain essential elements of the job may pose a danger because of the medical restrictions imposed), but often in a temporarily reduced capacity.  Thus, the “allowed” category is essentially up to each individual and independent agency, but for the most part agencies do allow Federal employees to continue to work.  

The latter distinction — whether a Federal or Postal employee “can” work — is a hybrid of the previous two categories.  Most Federal and Postal employees must work, out of economic necessity, and therefore will force themselves to continue to work as long as possible.  

The Federal or Postal employee who can continue to work, will work, and can do so to the extent that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will allow the employee to perform some, if not most, of the essential elements of one’s job.  It should be a coordinated effort between the Agency and the employee who has shown his or her loyalty these past many years, but unfortunately such coordination breaks down somewhere during the process.  

During the trying times of preparing, formulating, filing, then waiting for a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the time for an Agency to show that the concept of “loyalty” is a bilateral proposition should surface — if only for the time to complete the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Entrenchment

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been formulated, prepared, streamlined and filed though one’s Agency (or, if separated from one’s agency for more than 31 days, then directly with the Office of Personnel Management), then there begins to exist a sense of “trench warfare” — of waiting, and waiting.  

In response, there is always the frustration of waiting; however, the better course of action is to actively embrace the entrenchment, and to engage in productive actions — of either working as much as possible at the job from which one has filed for Federal Disability Retirement; or to find another, part-time work which can supplement the lack of income during the process.

Entrenchment can be a frustrating time, precisely because it makes one feel as if no progress is being made.  Yet, as waiting is part of the process of filing for, and becoming approved for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the art of trench warfare, and the acceptance of entrenchment, in awaiting the decision from the Office of Personnel Management, is the most productive course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Taking a Trickle of Leave

When a Federal or Postal employee files for, and is approved for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the disability retirement annuity which one receives extends back to the “last day of pay” of a Federal or Postal employee.  It matters not what “kind” of pay; the Office of Personnel Management merely receives the date of the Federal or Postal employee’s last day of pay from the Agency, then gives back-pay back to that date which the Agency determines that he or she was last paid.

Thus, if a person was on LWOP for a six-month period while awaiting for a decision from OPM on his or her Federal Disability Retirement application, then decided to use up the last couple of hours of Annual or Sick Leave and receive a nominal amount — in that scenario, the back pay would extend only to the payment received for the Annual or Sick Leave, and the Federal or Postal employee would lose any back-pay for the six-month period of LWOP.  

With this in mind, it is important to plan — to either remain on LWOP during the entire period of waiting for a decision from OPM, or if one continues to work or to receive payments for Sick or Annual Leave, to make it worth one’s while (i.e., to continue to receive a payment rate equal to what the rate of pay for back-pay would be, which is 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of salary the first year, then 40% every year thereafter).  Just some thoughts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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