Federal Disability Retirement: Returning to the Boredom of Health

Everyone desires to attain a path of certainties, where life has a rhythm of regularity, predictability and consistency.  We often complain of a life of boredom, but there is a distinction to be made between “being bored” and having what some would consider a “boring existence”.

One need only encounter a life-threatening emergency, or a crisis impacting self, family members or friends — or a serious medical condition.  Then, one yearns for those “boring” days of yore, when living a daily existence of merely being pain-free, when one could bend, reach, turn, twist, pick up a cup of coffee — without a thought of invasive and excruciating pain; of a time when focusing upon a task did not require one’s utmost energy and stamina; where the intrusion of nightmares, anxiety and panic attacks did not paralyze one’s totality of being.  Living a boring life for those encountering the “excitement” of a medical condition, as opposed to “being bored”, found a consistency of a rhythm of certainty.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is the goal of the Federal or Postal employee to enter into a period of a recuperative universe, in order to get back to the days of a boring existence.  Boredom is not necessarily a negative thing; indeed, when one is beset with a medical condition which prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, the very notion that one’s prior existence of health was somehow less than exciting, is a puzzle to those who have lost their health.

Federal Disability Retirement is a chance to attain the boring life of yore; preparing properly the application for submission; formulating it effectively; and filing it to attain the goal of returning to that former self, is a consideration worth making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Psychological Process

One of the reasons why the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, should view the entirety of the administrative process as just that — a “process” as opposed to an entitlement to benefits — is because (a) that is in fact what it is and (b) to fail to view it from that perspective would be to refuse to adequately prepare for the long and arduous procedural pitfalls which are inherent in each case.

This is not an entitlement where a specific trigger of an event results in the automatic calculation and issuance of compensation.  Reaching a certain age does not result in the granting of Federal Disability Retirement benefits (although it may end it and be recalculated at age 62); attaining a certain number of years of service will not qualify one for Federal disability Retirement benefits (but again, upon reaching age 62, it may result in a beneficial calculation of benefits for having a greater number of years of service).

Rather, Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative, legal process in which one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is (1) eligible, in that one meets certain minimum requirements, such as 18 months of Federal Service under FERS, or 5 years under CSRS, and (2) entitled, by proving that one has met the legal requirements under the statutes, regulations and case-law.

By having the proper psychological perspective, one is better able to prepare for the long haul before starting the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Friendly Supervisor

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Supervisor — and therefore the Agency itself — will be informed of one’s application for Federal Disability Retirement, because of the requirement of the SF 3112B.

Standard Form 3112B is the “Supervisor’s Statement”; it is a form which needs to be completed by a Supervisor of the Federal or Postal employee who is applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Because the form must be completed by a Supervisor of the applicant, it is therefore presumed that “others” at the agency will come to know that the Federal or Postal employee has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Often, the question is asked as to “when” the Supervisor should be informed of the employee’s application.  It can be a touchy issue.  Because the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often feels a certain sense of loyalty, especially if the Supervisor has been “good” to him or her, the instinctive sense is to inform the Supervisor sooner, rather than later.  But remember that loyalty in the Federal government is almost always a unilateral approach; it runs one way — from the individual to the agency; rarely is it bilateral, where it runs both ways.

Further, once a Federal or Postal employee contemplates filing for Federal Disability Retirement, the loyalty of the Supervisor is normally seen as connected to, and only to, the agency; and the very fact that an employee has mentioned the term “Federal Disability Retirement” is often the turning point of any connective loyalty.

Loyalty is what one is doing now and for the future, not what one has done in the past.  Such words may invoke a sad truth, but one which should be heeded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Legally Sufficient Accommodation

Whether the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service has offered a legally-viable accommodation is determined by the criteria of an offer made which is either at the same pay or grade as the position one currently occupies; but, moreover, as the Bracey case and subsequent cases which elaborate upon the issue have made clear, it cannot be a position which is merely “made up” or temporary by nature, or one in which the current Supervisor merely whispers in one’s ear and says, “Just don’t do X, Y and Z essential elements of the job.”

The reasoning behind the view that such a temporary, modified “position” does not constitute an “accommodation” under the law — and therefore would not prevent eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is easily justified by the age-old adage that, where one lives by the sword, one dies by the sword; meaning, thereby, that if Supervisor X can simply suspend certain essential elements of a job, a future Supervisor Y can just as easily reinstate the requirements of performing those previously-unattended elements, and require that they be performed.

That being said, there is nevertheless nothing wrong with an Agency allowing for a Federal or Postal worker to work at a position and lessen the requirements of the job.  For some, it may be that such a modified position is acceptable, especially in light of receiving a regular paycheck.

The issue of “accommodations” should not be confused with the eligibility requirements of being able to file for, and be approved with, Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  There is the issue of legally-sufficient accommodation for purposes of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefitsfrom the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; then, there is the commonplace parlance of being informally “accommodated” if one wants to continue to work; the two are not contradictory.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Precision of Terms

Tools and weapons can be interchangeably and effectively utilized, and often with appropriate results; however, normally the intended usage is the preferred application, especially if one desires a result of precision and craftsmanship.  Thus, while using a shotgun to hunt pheasant is entirely appropriate, it may not be the best weapon of choice to kill a squirrel (although, again, it may still be quite effective).  Or, using a corkscrew to make a hole in the drywall may be effective, but perhaps messy.  While adaptation may be a sign of higher intelligence, it may also be indicative of a lack of appropriate knowledge.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the “shotgun” approach used by many Federal or Postal applicants is often indicative of a misunderstanding of the applicable and relevant laws which must be addressed in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Or, there are Federal Disability Retirement applications where repetitive “name-dropping” occurs — implying some knowledge, but to a dangerously limited extent.  “Bracey”, “Trevan”, “Bruner”, and multiple other names are inserted, often in contextually inappropriate ways (including, one hesitates to add, by lawyers and law firms), as if they are characters in a mystery novel, or perhaps in an HBO detective series.  Or, general terms such as “causality”, “rating”, “maximum medical improvement”, while appropriate in other types of compensatory filings, are almost entirely meaningless for purposes of obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Precision of terms is necessary in the endeavor of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in the end, the effective tool is the one chosen for its intended purpose, just as man without a teleological essence, is merely a wandering ape in a jungle of arbitrary appearances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency which Decides

These days, the chasm between language, truth and reality has widened to where the bifurcation and distinction between each has resulted in a lack of any significant relationship between them; or, conversely, each has become identical with the other, which amounts to all the same if one pauses to reflect upon it.

Once upon a time, prior to Bertrand Russell’s mischievous offering of a conundrum with the statement, “The King of France is bald” (for, as there is no King of France, and therefore there can be no bald King of France; yet, how is it that such a statement can nevertheless have meaning?  Ergo:  language need not have any relationship to truth or reality); the prevailing operative theory involved the correspondence theory of truth, where statements were said to correspond to the noumenal world around us.

In the practical world, the weight which keeps us grounded is based upon the extent of responsibility one must accept.  Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is precisely the agency to whom a Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted which the Federal or Postal worker should be focused upon.  It is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — OPM in acronym form — which should guide and dictate how a Federal or Postal worker should act, react, and correspondingly prepare for.

While agencies will attempt to pressure the Federal or Postal worker into hastily preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application for their own purposes, the Federal or Postal worker must always realize that if OPM denies a claim, you cannot go back to your agency and say, “See, you made me do X, Y and Z, so now it is your problem.”  No, the Agency will not take responsibility; it is between OPM and the Federal or Postal Worker.

Therefore, act accordingly; do not unwisely and hastily be pressured to prepare or formulate a Federal Disability Retirement case just because the agency wants the positional slot vacated.  Do it properly; take the necessary time; get legal counsel; otherwise, you may in fact have to meet the bald King of France.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Life after Disability Retirement

The focus upon the “now”, of course, can not be avoided; for the “now” constitutes the present circumstances, the period of preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; where the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; where the severity, chronicity and extent of the persistent pain, the overwhelming psychiatric infringement upon one’s ability to focus, concentrate, etc.; or where the ability to have the sustained stamina and daily energy has been depleted to such an experiential phenomena that the very “now” is all that one can focus upon.

There is, however, indeed a life after Federal Disability Retirement, and as much of the administrative process of obtaining the benefit is a long and arduous waiting period, it is beneficial to consider what will happen, what one will do, can do, etc., once an approval is obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Remember, in being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, one can go out and earn up to 80% of what one’s former salary pays currently.

Further, this is not OWCP — where, if one is receiving temporary total disability compensation, you cannot work at all (there are some minor exceptions under FECA/OWCP rules, such as if you were working at another part-time position of a different nature prior to the accepted date of injury, you may be allowed to continue to work that “other” job, etc.).  Nor is this SSDI, where there is a severe cap on the limit of what one may earn (although, if one is getting FERS Disability Retirement concurrently with SSDI, then there is an offset between the two).

The period of waiting can be a fertile time of preparation for life after an approval.  Or, such future plans can be placed on temporary hold for purposes of using the time for recuperative rest.  In any event, the “now” is merely a passing time of fleeting moments, as a cherry blossom withering in the early morning dew as the sun begins to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The 31-day Rule

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been prepared and formulated, the next step in the equation is to determine the proper destination for filing.

For all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, if one is still on the rolls of the agency, whether on Sick Leave, Annual Leave, receiving donated leave, or on LWOP, if separation from service has not occurred, then the Disability Retirement packet must go through either the local or district Human Resources Office of the Agency for further processing.  The Office of Personnel Management will not accept a Federal Disability Retirement application directly from the applicant, if the Federal or Postal worker filing for such benefits has not yet been separated from Federal Service.

For Postal employees, a further caveat concerning “separation” should be taken into account:  Often, the U.S. Postal Service will continue to retain workers on the rolls, even after proposing to remove them, and often even after issuing a decision letter on a removal.  A good indicator as to whether a Postal Worker is still on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service is if the individual is still receiving “0” balance pay stubs.  This likely means that the person is still officially “on the rolls” of the U.S. Postal Service.

Further, while many Federal (non-postal) workers continue to have the benefit of a local Human Resources Office, or an assigned district H.R. Office, for the U.S. Postal Service employee, all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be processed through the H.R. Shared Services Center in Greensboro, N.C.

If a person has been separated from Federal Service for more than thirty one (31) days, then the former Federal or Postal Worker must file his or her Federal Disability Retirement application directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, the first priority is to prepare and formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application; next, to ensure compliance with the 1-year statute of limitations; and finally, to file it via the proper channels.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire