Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Embracing Progress toward Better Conditions

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is indeed based upon a progressive paradigm.  It not only recognizes that an individual may be disabled from a particular kind of job; but, moreover, it allows and encourages the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future, and to seek a way of starting a new vocation in a different field, without penalizing the former Federal or Postal employee by taking away the Federal disability annuity.

There are maximum limits to the paradigm — such as the ceiling of earning up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays. But to be able to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, while at the same time retaining the ability to continue to receive the disability annuity, is far different than the paradigm presented under SSDI or OWCP.

Further, because there is a recognition that one’s medical disability is narrowly construed to one’s Federal or Postal position, or any similar job, the restrictions placed upon the “type” of job a Federal or Postal annuitant may seek, is fairly liberally defined.  Yes, both types of positions should not require the identical physical demands if such demands impact the same anatomical basis upon which one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits were approved for; but, even in such circumstances, one has the right to argue that the extent of repetitive work, if qualitatively differentiated, may allow for a similar position in the private sector.

Compare that to OWCP, where one cannot work at any other job while receiving temporary total disability benefits from the Department of Labor.  Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future; and that, in and of itself, is worth its weight in gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Habit Encountering Critical Mass

Most people live lives of peaceful habituation; and while Henry David Thoreau would add that they live “lives of quiet desperation,” such a state of desperation erupts only when the habit of daily living, whether quiet or not, is interrupted by an event or a series of events.

Those who retain their health, or have never encountered a period of chronic medical conditions, can never fully comprehend the tumult and trials of such impact — upon one’s professional life, certainly, but moreover, upon the private life of quiet habit, of merely attempting to sit in a chair; to read; to engage in a leisure activity.  But “leisure” can be enjoyed only if the substantive life of habitual endurance can be lived in a relatively peaceful manner.

For those who have come to a point of contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that former life of peace and quietude — of that “boring” daily habit of thoughtless living — must now be confronted with the reality of a medical situation which must be aggressively pursued, in order to secure one’s future, and to retain some semblance of peace back into one’s life.

Those Federal or Postal employees who must fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — ah, but if only they could have remained in their peaceful lives of daily habituation.  But the encounter with the reality of a medical condition awakens them from such peace and repetitive living; there comes a point when a different course must be affirmatively taken, with obstacles dropped in the path — from a hostile work environment, to coworkers and family members who show no empathy — but the fight must be fought, so that one day the disrupted life of quietude may once again be attained in some semblance of sanity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Supervisors, Performance, and Other Matters

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS (although the latter is increasingly becoming a rarer animal, almost to the point of extinction, and has been recently annotated on the “endangered species” list), the concern of many Federal and Postal employees often centers around past performance reviews (a history of “outstanding” performance, etc.), the potential statements of the Supervisor on an SF 3112B, and similar issues.

What the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits fails to understand, is that the reason why he or she has reached that critical juncture where Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, is tied directly to that long and commendable history of outstanding performance.

To put it bluntly, the Federal or Postal employee who has done his or her job so well over the years, has killed him/herself in doing it.  That is why the medical condition has not improved; that is why the progressively deteriorating process, whether of a physical nature or of a psychiatric bent, has reached its critical mass, and one cannot go on in the same manner, any longer.

It has come to a point of a necessity to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It matters not what one’s history is; if one cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then it is time to file; regardless of what one’s performance history is, or what one’s Supervisor’ Statement may potentially reflect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Holidays

The “holidays” — or any respite from the daily treadmill of the repetitive reality of daily living — brings about realizations and gestalt moments of insight, precisely because such moments provide for opportunities of thoughtful reflection.

The modern approach of engaging in conversations and discussion for purposes of “value clarifications” became necessary when a tension occurred within society; where new ideas began to question and challenge the old; when habitual engagements of societal values, ethics and mores began to be undermined by revolutionary approaches, technological advances, and unrestrained actions by youthful movements of protestations and revolts.  Similarly, when time and opportunity allows for reflection and contemplation, certain realizations begin to surface.

For Federal and Postal employees who have been suffering from various medical conditions, whether chronic physical pain which limits movement, flexion and unsustainable capabilities of endurance; or psychiatric conditions which impact focus, concentration, and the ability to engage in cognitive-intensive work; the time of the “holidays” can be a challenge, where it provides for an opportunity to take some time off to rest those tired bones; but also a time of reflection to recognize and realize that one cannot remain on the same treadmill forever.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which needs to be considered, precisely because it is not an “opting out of life”.  Rather, it is a means of downsizing, recognizing that one’s medical condition is preventing one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, and to seek a change of venue for the future.

The “holidays” are indeed a time for reflection; but reflection, if allowed without subsequent action, is an impotent moment of self-realization.  Be a rebel; grab the opportunity if presented.  That is what the holidays are ultimately for — to reflect and change course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Multiple Tracks

Multi-tasking is a relatively modern term, but the substance of which people have obviously been engaging in for centuries.  With the limitations imposed by the human anatomy, as well as the capacity of the human brain to effectively function and respond to stimuli from multiple sources, the problem for the human being arises when a coordinated effort to bombard an individual collectively and from a variety of sources is initiated with a purpose in mind.  Thus, the common idiom, “When it rains, it pours”.

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 important to distinguish between those actions by the Agency which directly, or even in a peripheral manner, impact one’s Federal Disability retirement application, and those efforts by an Agency which are independently initiated, but have little to do with the Federal Disability Retirement process itself.

Agencies often act without thoughtful coordination, but a coincidence of actions may come about from different branches of the agency, without a connecting coordination between such branches.  Unfortunately, the mere filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application does not necessarily provide a legal tool against an agency; one has various other tools, such as invoking FMLA protection; utilizing the sources of a Union and initiating grievances and administrative appeals; and certainly, one should respond to any agency-initiated actions; but ultimately, the solution to the recognition that one is no longer medically able to perform one’s job, is to prepare, formulate, and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM.

That is the ultimate line of protection; that is why the benefit exists for the Federal and Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: To Enter the Gates Blindly

Being naive is a quality and character trait which is distinguishable from innocence; in this world where information and the opportunity to obtain wisdom is vast and limitless, retaining the former quality may be unpardonable, whereas maintaining a level of innocence may reveal a life of self-discipline, where one has deliberately placed lines of demarcation around one’s life, and insisted upon not being sullied by the world around us.

One can remain innocent, yet not be naive.  While the converse may also be possible, it is important not to deliberately avoid the harsh reality around us.

Thus, 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 important that one enters into the metaphorical gates of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management with eyes of wisdom and experience, and not be saddled with the blind naiveté of thinking that the administrative process will be one of fairness and just analysis.

Assume that OPM will attempt to selectively read medical reports and records with an eye to deny; presume that they will ignore crucial evidentiary documentation which upholds one’s case; expect that legal “triggers” such as the Bruner Presumption or the holding in Trevan will be unimpressive.

That is why that which may be implicit, needs to always be made explicit, and repetitively so.  While it may be advantageous for one to enter the proverbial pearly gates with innocence, to enter through the gates of OPM with naiveté is merely inviting a door slammed shut.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Persuading with Persuasive Arguments

The question is often asked concerning whether or not and to what extent other collateral agency decisions can impact a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), whether under FERS or CSRS.

The only answer which can be provided is the standard, “It depends…”  The reason why “it depends” is precisely because utilization of any persuasive information or evidence is primarily dependent upon the persuasive efficacy of the evidence itself.

There is certainly legal case-law support for collateral evidentiary submissions, including SSDI, Department of Veterans Affairs ratings, Military Board findings, and DOL/OWCP second opinion and “referee” findings, etc.  Thus, the issue is not whether or not there is a basis for using such third-hand sources to support the primary evidentiary foundation of a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, the issue becomes one of how effectively should one use such evidence.  Such a question, of course, can only depend upon the particular and unique circumstances of each case, by analyzing and reviewing the strength, applicability, and relevance of the documented information.

Sometimes, use of such collateral evidence can somewhat backfire, in that OPM will actually point to such evidence and discuss it in a way which supports a denial.  Care and discretion must always be taken in using collateral information; it is always the primacy of the primary information which must be used, and used effectively.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire