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 often necessary to perform a methodological analysis similar to a “risk-benefits” evaluation before proceeding down the path in attempting to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
The risks versus benefits analysis should already have been performed: the necessity of filing because of one’s medical conditions should have answered any such issues arising from such a concern. The “other” analytical approach, however, often revolves around the ever-prevalent and uniquely human ability to endlessly ruminate: the “What if” syndrome. What if I don’t get the disability retirement? What if my agency terminates me before I get approved? What if…
Such questions, while important to consider, should be first preceded by the overarching “what-if” question of all, which generally answers all subsequent similar questions: “What if I don’t file?” Presumably, one comes to a point in deciding to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition which has progressively or suddenly come to a point where it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.
Given that, the options to be clarified are quite simple: If one does not file, then one will either have to continue working in the same or similar capacity; or one can resign and walk away, perhaps with a deferred retirement at age 65. Are any of those options truly viable? Ergo, many — if not all — of the other “what if” questions resolve themselves by first clarifying the penultimate what-if question.
Sequential clarification of one’s options is an important step in the reflective process of decision-making; take the time to consider the options; clarify the options; then, when the decision to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefitsbecomes a matter of necessity, move forward with the view that one will be approved precisely because the facts prove the case, without engaging in the self-defeating, very-human endeavor of self-doubt and questioning.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire