Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Simplification of Complexities

The art of simplifying the complex requires an effort beyond mere reduction to basic concepts; it is a process of unravelling compound components in order to separate and undo intersecting concepts which tend to confound through connections otherwise incomprehensible, then to analyze each individual element in their own right, before reassembling and reorganizing.

Anyone who has taken apart a piece of equipment without quite knowing what to expect, understands such an intellectual process.  But simplification of explanation does not mean that the issue conveyed is an uncomplicated one; rather, it is an art form of making comprehensible without regurgitating the inherent esotericism itself; it is a reflection of pure understanding when one is able to explain without puffery.

Federal Disability Retirement is a complex process.  There is no getting around it.  One can separate the multiple components into their individual issues, and certainly simplify the morass by attending to each element independently; but in the end, one must reassemble the disparate parts and reorganize it back to its wholeness of integrated integrity.

As an admixture of three complex groupings — the medical, the legal, and the bureaucratic — one cannot entirely escape the linguistic confusion of technical complexities by merely referring to it as “showing this or that”.  The language of the medical issues must be embraced, followed by a clear understanding of the legal elements established, and further promulgated by maneuvering through the administrative process and the agency’s attempt, often deliberate and with conscious effort, to put up unnecessary roadblocks and obstacles.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is not rocket science; however, nor is it an Andy Warhol piece of artwork.  But then, I never understood the latter to be so uncomplicated to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Bridge Too Far

It is an indelible comment in history, marking a failure of calculations resulting in catastrophic consequences in the unwise attempt to quickly end the war.  As a tactical consideration, the attempt to outflank German defenses by securing key bridges in order to isolate the enemy, constituted a brilliant idea; in practical application, the unconfirmed attribution of the comment that the Allied Forces may be going “a bridge too far” proved to be the very downfall of such a bold military strategy.

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

Bridges represent vital and necessary supply lines between two entities, organizations, populations, and even ideas.  They allow for the free flow of supplies and communication; they constitute the “lifeline” between two otherwise disparate groups.  It is such a bridge, or “nexus”, which is similarly of great importance in all formulations of Federal Disability Retirement applications. For the Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing to submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through one’s agency (if still employed by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or otherwise separated but not more than 31 days since the effective date of separation), and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, making sure that the “bridge” between one’s medical condition and the impact upon the positional duties of one’s job is a vital and necessary part of the process.

Like physical bridges which connect various populations, the nexus which brings together the Federal Disability Retirement application in a FERS or CSRS submission, will determine the very persuasiveness of one’s presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  A bridge which is inadequate will fail to establish that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal position; and one which overextends itself may raise red flags of overreaching and exaggeration, undermined by a Supervisor’s Statement or the Agency’s contention that they have attempted to accommodate an individual to a legally viable degree.

While a 1-to-1 ratio of a medical condition-to-an-essential element is unnecessary in establishing eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (see my multiple articles on the Henderson case), nevertheless, a linguistic construction of an adequate bridge between the two must be firmly established.

In the end, as with the Allied attempt to swiftly conclude the war resulted in the unnecessary cost of human lives, so one must take care in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such that one does not go “a bridge too far” in making one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Frameworks

To be successful in any endeavor, one must identify the relevant issues, sift through and discard the peripheral contents, and maintain a thematic thread throughout in order to keep the focus upon the essence of the project. Anyone who has attended a meeting which lacks a subject-matter focus, and where a free-for-all is allowed, without a circumscribed set of agendas, can attest to the importance of setting priorities and understanding the difference between points of significance and irrelevant detractions.

Frames are important, and sometimes as much as the painting itself.  For, art is merely a slice of the greater exposure to life, and it is the frame which distinguishes that parcel of perspective and allows the viewer to participate in a moment of time and a pause for reflection.  For the Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to provide a “roadmap” to OPM, and thus circumscribe the framework of the relevant attachments, medical and legal issues to be evaluated, and the pathway to resolutions preemptively proposed.

Thus, the three tiers of an effective framework should include: (1) A clear and concise Statement of Disability (here, one must be careful because of the legal consequences of failing to include and fully describe the medical conditions), (2) A reference to the relevancy of the attached documents which support the statement, and (3) the pertinent legal foundations which are satisfied by the first two tiers.

He who frames the picture has the power to direct the viewer’s perspective; for, it is the frame which enhances the content of the artistry, and directs the appreciation to an irrelevant empty sky in a schematically unimportant corner of the painting, or to the central theme where the brilliance of bursting colors explode forth in magnificent reflections of a masterpiece’s slice of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Guiding Sense of Direction

Global Positioning Systems are widely relied upon these days.  In conversations, there is never anymore an effort to recollect, whether of an old movie, a struggling synonym, or a name on the “tip of the tongue’ — for one only needs to whip out the smart phone, do a quick search, and the delicious exertion of an extended discourse greets the cessation of social interaction with silence. But one’s hand-held GPS merely gets the individual from point A to point B; it does not provide a wider perspective of one’s place in the greater world.

In the old days, the social interaction of spreading out a map before taking an extended trip was a requirement, unless of course one wanted to foolishly brave the winding roads of unfamiliar territory with the declared intention of undertaking an adventure of sorts. It was the mental exercise of figuring out the confusing grid system, of marking and remembering various routes, which taught one about the smallness of one’s being within the greater context of the world.

And in a similar vein, the pleasure of struggling to remember the name of something once known, but now locked in fuzzy storages in the dusty bookshelves of past memories, is now replaced by expediency and wasted efforts. Making decisions of important issues is somewhat akin to using a GPS or searching for information on the internet.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a decision somewhat akin to using a GPS or searching on the internet.

For, in the end, it is not just a matter of traveling to a different point from one’s departure-point; it is important to have a wider perspective on all of the legal issues involved, the impact for future courses of decision-making, and the proper deciphering of the complex grid which characterizes a Federal Disability Retirement application. One can always push a button and go through the motions; or, one can have a deeper understanding by expending a little more effort in any given endeavor.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is too important an avenue to undertake, to leave it to chance, or to declare that it is an adventure of sorts. It is likely necessary that one may have to resort to figuring out the complex grid of the administrative process, and in most cases, that will require the guidance of a map greater than a simple directional device.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Admixture of Incremental Deterioration of Health Conditions While on Federal Employment

Destruction rarely comes as a sudden, tumultuous event; that is why tornadoes and hurricanes are noteworthy news items.  Instead, it is the slow rot of incremental deterioration which represents the commonplace thread of destroying lives, sort of like the metaphorical water torture where the progressive drip of each drop of destructive degeneration defines the dilapidation of deferred degradation (have we now engaged in enough alliteration to satisfy one’s amusement?).

Life itself is complex; filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must contend with such complexities, and it is often prudent to “separate out” the admixture of various issues in order to arrive at the best decision for each particularized life and circumstances.  Like splitting a cluster of atoms, separating a neutron can result in an unexpected implosion if one does not have a clear path and exit strategy, including having full knowledge of the consequences potentially resulting from each action engaged.  To the extent possible, one should never begin a bureaucratic process without knowing the resulting impact, whether foreseen or unforeseen.

The decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management by the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, can never be taken in a vacuum; the medical condition may have had its inception several years before; the agency may have undergone multiple changes of supervisors, where previous bosses signed off on liberal use of SL, AL & LWOP; where travel was curtailed with a wink-and-a-nod, and a loosely-held network of implicit understandings allowed for continuation in a position despite one’s inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.

Then, one day, in walks a fresh face, and the other side of humanity suddenly disappears.  Complaints are whispered, or perhaps even officially filed as an EEO suit.  Stress levels are increased, and suddenly medical conditions which were previously managed and quietly maintained flare up into major impediments and life-events bordering on crisis and turmoil.

One must understand, however, that the progressive and incremental deterioration was always in existence; it is precisely because of the slow, almost imperceptible nature of the rotting which was occurring, that few noticed.  Federal Disability Retirement is often the most prudent exit strategy in solving the problem of the incrementalism of havoc wrought by years of aggregated difficulties.

The first step in the process of preparing to file a Federal Disability Retirement application, however, is to sift and separate the relevant from the ancillary, without unintentionally splitting the proverbial atom, and to recognize that the crisis point is less of a singular event, and more likely a flashpoint resulting from years of neglect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Temptation of More

It is similar to the proverbial truth of the “straw that broke the camel’s back”; or of the wise commoner who saved the king’s daughter from drowning, and who was offered a bounty of rice, to which he proposed the following: on each square of the chessboard, a doubling of the number from the previous square.  The temptation of the exponential factor is almost always unable to be resisted; that is the converse principle by which we live: by adding one (we are told), it will make our lives less complicated (so we believed).

Technology and the addition of each innovation would buy us more leisure time; work and stress would be lessened, because the salesman persuaded us that it would be so.  And so we have become accustomed, attuned, and trained to think in a linear, progressively upward trend; that the more we accumulate, the happier we will become, until one day the economics of aggregation become so burdensome that the weight of all of those additional threads of straw pile upon us with ever-growing pressures of daily living, and the salesman who sold that last gadget has walked away with the sack full of rice, content to have saved our lives (or laughing all the way to the bank with a knowing grin).

It is the conditioning of a cumulative-based society.  And, of course, when the burden is further exacerbated by a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to remain at the same purchasing power of economic viability, we are willing to sacrifice our health for the sake of more stuff.  For the Federal and Postal Workers who have dedicated their collective lives to furthering the mission of one’s agency, it is often a little more complex and complicated than just the economic issue; it is entangled with a sense of self-sacrifice, and a loyalty tending towards irrational discourse.  Perhaps this is a natural course for things; perhaps it is “the mission” which first tempted and attracted the Federal or Postal Worker to begin with.

In any event, Federal and Postal Workers fight to the end before contemplating filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and often to the detriment of one’s own health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there, however, for the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Whether under FERS or CSRS, it is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

While it is an annuity which will reduce the purchasing power of the Federal or Postal employee, the question which all Federal or Postal employees must ask is the following: What is the priority of one’s life, and at what point in our lives did we come to believe that acquiring things were more important than life itself?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire