CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Development

Aristotle speaks often in terms of the spectrum between potentialities and actualization, revealing the philosophical concerns surrounding man’s ability to discern reality from appearances, scientific certitude as distinguished from mere opinions; and, in the end, the capacity to bifurcate truth from falsity. As Pre-Socratic philosophy brought out the problems of an ever-changing world, with Heraclitus and Parmenides as two classic examples of the focus of inquiry, so the underlying and common thread remains even with us today: How, in an ever-changing universe, do we attain some semblance of static certainty?

Anxiety during the development or waiting periods

Anxiety and stress during the development or waiting periods.

Medical conditions tend to bring to the fore a sudden change which is not merely problematic, but impacting upon all sectors and areas of one’s life. The quietude of the normal and mundane is suddenly turned upside down; that which we relied upon, and for which we worked so hard to achieve, are all suddenly in a state of disarray and disruption.

As certainty is the harbinger of security, so constant flux remains the loosened bolt which potentially unhinges such security. That is why, for Federal and Postal employees who are in the “development” stage of either preparing, formulating or in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS or, in the long and arduous “waiting” stage in anticipation of a decision to be rendered by OPM, a constant sense of anxiety and angst prevails, precisely because the lack of certitude in bringing about stability is presently ever-pervasive in one’s thoughts. Perspectives are important in the quest for truth.

Both Plato and Aristotle recognized the subjective factor of perceptual idiosyncrasies amongst species.  Development of a case for Federal and Postal Workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, will continue to remain in a state of flux, uncertainty, and insecurity. And like the metaphorical river into which Heraclitus walks, revealing the constancy of change and stream of flux, until a decision is rendered by OPM, life remains a metaphor for development into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Foreigner

The “foreigner” reflects a dual-edged phenomena:  on the one hand, the individual perceives the strangeness of his or her surroundings; on the other hand, those strangers from the “other” land may similarly view the foreigner with interest, suspicion, hesitation, etc.

It is a mutual encounter of cultural clashes.  The singular traveler into untried waters would welcome a friendly face, and thus is often susceptible to criminals and scammers in foreign parts who prey upon unwary tourists.  Within the context of the tourist industry, the “business” side of the industry wants to appear personal and attending to individualized needs, while at the same time dealing in large volumes through a bureaucracy of efficiency.

But being a “foreigner” can occur in one’s own country, too — as in the context of engaging an unknown entity, or an administrative process which is strange and different.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who has been a productive member of the Federal workforce for many years, it is a strange encounter indeed to have to contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The entire administrative and bureaucratic process is like stepping onto a foreign land and trying to navigate the streets, towns and cities within the context of trying to understand a language heretofore unfamiliar.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an entrance into a land of peculiar and unknown foods and attractions.  For the foreign traveler, it is often best to seek the guidance of a tour guide.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Questions Abound

Questions abound when first encountering the possibility of needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and that is a natural course of events.  It is tantamount to the proverbial admissions that one’s “mouth speaks faster than one can think,” because of the sudden flood of concerns, potential problems, future-oriented probabilities and the anxieties associated with the unknown.

It is thus often important to systematically categorize the questions and concerns into that which needs to be done immediately; that which can be accomplished within the next 30 – 60 days; and that which must be considered for the long-term.

Such time-imposed trifurcation of tasks, questions, concerns, etc. to place into neat segments will help in managing the daunting task of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, especially when one considers that attending to the care and treatment of one’s medical condition requires time and attention as a priority.  By categorizing and pigeonholing questions into their appropriate time-slots, it will help to manage the onset of natural anxieties which are always felt by encountering the new, the complex, and the unknown.

Questions will always abound; how and when to answer them is the key to maintaining a sense of calm and competence while retaining an aura of peace.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Choices

One immediately hears it in the voice — of the frustration and desire to simply give up.  But “giving up” is simply not a choice, if one refuses to acknowledge such an option and fails to place it on the roster of listed alternatives.  Part of the human factor in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the chasm of the unknown.

No, there is never a guarantee that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved, just as there is never a certainty that one’s treating doctor will support the patient’s need to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is the unknown — from whether the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is sufficient to obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, to whether the doctor’s report is “strong enough”; from what steps the agency will take to try and undermine a Federal Disability Retirement case, to the long and seemingly endless wait while one’s case simply sits on the desk of some Case worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the aggregate of all of these constitute and comprise the “unknown”.

There are cases where a thin sliver of medical documents result in a quick and uncomplicated approval; others, where a voluminous binding of reports, diagnostic tests and medical records result in scant attention and a denial. Often, it seems somewhat arbitrary.

It is the “unknown” and “unknowable” factors which heighten the time of anxiety.  But through the entire administrative process, the singular choice should always be clear:  to move forward.  And sometimes, to do so is to merely wait, and disregard the unknown or unknowable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It may seem antithetical to talk about the psychiatric condition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in filing for Federal Disability Retirements benefit under FERS or CSRS, especially during the Holidays — but, in fact, the analogy with the high stress which many Federal and Postal workers feel because of Christmas, New Years & other holidays is especially relevant.  

Let me elaborate.  Such a time period as “The Holidays” in fact often brings greater stresses in a person’s life — for it is precisely a time when one is “supposed” to feel joyous, when in fact an individual’s internal, personal turmoil may contradict the outward appearance which one manifests.  Such a combination — of the high level of stress one is experiencing, at a particular time (the Holidays), may be considered a “situational” psychiatric condition, because (hopefully) it will subside once the time-period passes.

This is a good way to understand what distinguishes between a “situational disability” (which is disallowed in Federal Disability Retirement applications under either FERS or CSRS) and “non-situational disabilities” (which are viable medical conditions pervading all aspects of one’s life, regardless of time or situation).  

The Office of Personnel Management will often attempt to characterize the psychiatric condition of Generalize Anxiety Disorder as one of merely “situational occurrence” — i.e., of being particularized and categorized as occurring only within the confines of a particular department, a particular workplace situation, or a period of time when a specific supervisor or coworker is present (sort of like occurring during the Holidays).  But Generalized Anxiety Disorder, properly diagnosed by a treating physician, is rarely, if ever, situational, and in fact is a serious psychiatric condition which qualifies for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

Do not let the Office of Personnel Management fool you; Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a viable psychiatric medical condition, especially if it pervades all aspects of your life, and it prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your job as a Federal or Postal employee under either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: A Different Process Reality

The “process reality” of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS is a completely different kind of reality — a parallel universe that continues on regardless of whether or not one enters into such a world.  That is why it is often a shock for Federal and Postal workers who enter into such a foreign process reality.  

When a Federal or Postal worker is engaged in the “work world”, the process reality involves and entails goal-oriented accomplishments, daily tasks to be completed, career goals to be defined, interactions with coworkers and supervisors to be handled in diplomatic manners, etc.  

When a medical condition intervenes, however, the process reality of the work world suddenly changes — and changes traumatically and dramatically.  Suddenly, coworkers and supervisors view you differently; career goals are replaced with fear and trepidation for the future; daily tasks are seen as hurdles to overcome; work becomes a trial of daily pain.  On top of it all, the process reality of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS — with all of the surrounding laws, statutes, case-laws and procedural complications — becomes the new reality.  It is a reality which encompasses bureaucratic hurdles and pitfalls, but one which must be confronted.  While most Federal or Postal employees have little choice but to enter such a parallel process reality when the need arises, it is nevertheless a difficult reality to face, and little can be done to prepare in advance for it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire