OPM Disability Retirement Appeal: Second Opportunities

In life, how often do we get a “second opportunity”?  To correct a past mistake; to avoid the consequences of an error committed; to rekindle a damaged relationship; and other acts of revitalized and redemptive scenarios rarely allowed.

Second opportunities, and the rare third ones, allow for erasures to be made, modifications to be incorporated and additional, corrective information to be inserted.  Of the following, what would one think? “Oh, a mistake was made in the contract which goes against you, but not to worry, go ahead and make the changes and we can sign everything again as if … “ Or: “Oh, your rich aunt disinherited you after you called her that horrible name and in a drunken rage knocked her over the head with vase, but not to worry, she forgives you and has placed you back in her will.”

Those are, to be sure, instances of second opportunities, but rarely to be had and more likely to occur in fictionalized accounts of redemptive fantasies otherwise unpublished because of their unlikely occurrences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “Second Opportunity” (and the “Third”) comes in the form of the Reconsideration Stage, and then an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Don’t let such an opportunity for corrective action slip through the “proverbial fingers” by making the same mistake twice.  It is, at either the Reconsideration Stage or the appeal to the MSPB, an opportunity to fill in any gaps (whether merely perceived by OPM or substantively existing, it doesn’t really matter); and to reinforce any lack of medical evidence by having the opportunity to supplement, and even modify, statements made or omissions allowed.

Some OPM Disability Retirement cases may be weak in their very essence, whether because of lack of medical support or because of other reasons undefinable; other cases may simply need further development, explanation or supplemental evidence to “shore up” the unpersuasive peripheral issues that have appeared in the case.  Both the Reconsideration Stage, as well as the appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, open opportunities to resolve one’s case in one’s favor — by being granted the ultimate end and goal with an approval of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

The road to attain that goal, however, must sometimes travel through multiple doors and second opportunities, and that is how one should see the Second (Reconsideration) and Third (an appeal to the MSPB) Stages of the process in trying to get one’s OPM Disability Retirement application approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Interruption or Interlude

Life is full of interruptions which push the pause button upon our grand designs for linear progression; how we view such events, whether as something bothersome, or as a respite and opportunity, a platform for the next stage of life, will determine the extent of character-building foundations needed to forge forward.  Taking care of aging parents is now considered a bother, and not a privilege; mentoring a young person just beginning in a chosen career is seen as a predatory challenge, as opposed to a chance to mold for the future; and revealing a fissure in the otherwise impenetrable public face of constancy is a chance to take advantage of the weakness of the opponent.

How one views a particular event; whether it is seen in the best light possible and anticipated for lessons to be learned; or instead, as a crisis point of quashing all hope for the future, never to be spoken about because of the devastation wrought, reflects both upon the present state of one’s character, as well as the potential for the future. Things are merely bothersome to us, now. Perhaps it is the result of a leisure society, where things once earned are now expected as givens; or, of greater probability, that the antiseptic isolation of our society engenders a certain aura of incomprehensible turmoil.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, Federal Disability Retirement should be considered as a viable option. Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (and available to all eligible Federal and Postal employees who meet the minimum criteria of years of Federal service), it should be considered precisely for two (or more) reasons. First, it allows for a foundational annuity in order for one to move forward with one’s life. Second, it allows for the Federal and Postal employee to embark on a second vocation, and make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal job currently pays, on top of the base annuity.

As such, there is a built-in mechanism which recognizes that the event of a medical condition is not merely an interruption, but an interlude for the second and subsequent stages of a person’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Life at the Apex

Life is on a spectrum variable; instead, we tend to view it as a linear progression, as one from birth to youth, middle to old age; death as the ultimate outcome.  The content of life is therefore arranged based upon this organic paradigm projecting towards an apex, then a steady decline thereafter.  Thus are one’s education and school days fashioned, where the traditional pathway is from high school to college, from college to graduate school, medical school, law school, etc., and then onto a career.

A second opportunity to be useful in life with a second career or vocation

Federal Disability Retirement is all about having a second opportunity to be useful and productive with another career or vocation

Whether this linear application of life contains an inherent evolutionary advantage for survivability remains a question mark; the fact is, while lives are experienced along the parallel pathways within the greater population, the more relevant question is the Kantian one: Is this a reflection of reality, or have we created another category of an imposed preconception by which we live? One often hears about having reached the “apex of life”; if that proposition is accepted, then everything beyond will merely be a downward degeneration.

For individuals who suffer from a medical condition, it is often whispered of past times of a better life, as if resignation to fate justifies remorse and regret.  For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, should always be entertained.

Such a critical juncture in the life of a Federal or Postal employee cannot be ignored. Yet, whether the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application constitutes an admission of progressive decline after an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, is entirely up to the Federal or Postal Worker who takes such a step.  Medical conditions often necessitate change; but change can be seen as a spectrum variable, and not as an inevitable decline on a linear path.

Happiness, joy, fulfillment and accomplishment; they can be charted on a graph of ups and downs, and sometimes the “ups” can occur long after the apex of one’s linear life, and embrace the Federal or Postal employee long after one has left behind the bureaucratic morass of the Federal government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Silhouette Man

The object/subject issue pervades discussions in Western Moral Philosophy; in simplified form, of the ethics of treating one’s fellow human being in a one-dimensional manner, as an object to be manipulated, deprived of, worked about, etc. Like a silhouette in front of a moonlit sky, objects in the world, both animate and inanimate, are encountered by the subject of “I”, and until a personal engagement involving conversations, exchanging of information, and other intersections of relational entanglements, the pathway of the subjective merely observes “others” as objects, with anthropomorphic projections of assumptions that moving creatures and other fellow beings also walk about with a similar consciousness as the “I” which occupies one’s particular body in a given space and time.

Supervisors and managers often treat employees in such a manner, despite years and even decades of an established employment relationship. “Go ask Ed, the IT guy”; “That’s Bob the Engineer’s department”; and similar such references which imply that, beyond the limited scope of what X is known to do within the narrow confines of work-related issues, nothing further is known about, or related to, in referring to a particular person.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, that is precisely what begins to happen, isn’t it? “John — you know…” “Karen — she called in sick again.” “Kevin won’t do that — you know, his ‘condition'”. And with knowing looks and furtive smiles, the reference to the one-dimensional aspect of having pigeonholed the individual into a recess of definitional confinement: the medical condition defines the Federal and Postal employee, and is known exclusively and objectified in concretized form.

That is why Federal Disability Retirement benefits are often the only viable option left for the Federal or Postal Worker; for, in being treated as a one-dimensional object, the ability to relate to others in the workplace in a subject-to-subject manner is lost, and often forever. Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for all Federal and Postal Worker who are either under FERS or CSRS, if the minimum service requirements are met (5 years for those under CSRS, which is a given; 18 months for those under FERS). It is filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and is an employment benefit accessible for all Federal and Postal Workers.

Such accessibility allows for a passage away from a seemingly one-dimensional universe beset with suspicion, whispers, retaliations and shunning, and allows for the complexities of every human being to escape being viewed as a mere silhouette, like a cardboard figure at an amusement park waiting for a pop-gun to shoot it down.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Progressive Paradigm

Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement is one of the most progressive paradigms designed — for, as a compensatory program, it not only allows for, but encourages, the Federal or Postal worker to become a self-paying entity by working at another job, a new vocation, a different career, etc, after being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, thereby allocating taxes in order to pay for the annuity itself.

The fact that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may sometimes and randomly inquire as to the continuing disability status of the (former) Federal or Postal employee, or require an annual check upon the previous year’s income earnings in order to determine if the individual has exceeded the allowable ceiling of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, is a fairly easy threshold to meet.

Because the focus is upon the particular kind of job which the Federal or Postal employee had previously engaged in, it is natural that any job which the (former) Federal or Postal employee would seek and obtain, would have some qualitative and substantive differences from the Federal or Postal job.

At the same time, however, the skills which the Federal or Postal worker obtained and applied while working for the Federal government, need not be completely abandoned.  There just needs to be a medical justification as to why the individual is able to work in a private-sector job X, as opposed to the Federal job from which he or she medically retired from.

Often, it is a good idea to get the green light from one’s treating doctor, before accepting the private sector job, which would then establish the medical distinctions necessary to justify and answer any future OPM inquiry.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled FERS & CSRS Workers: Federal and Postal Employees

With the benefit available to Federal and Postal employees, of a Federal Disability Retirement under either FERS or CSRS, there is often a perception on the part of the non-Federal Sector public, that Federal and Postal employees have benefits which are extravagant.  In these times of economic turmoil, with the Federal deficit exploding exponentially, one might wonder about a benefit which pays an annuity for not being able to work at a specific type of job, yet encourages people to become productive members of society in some other job. 

Yet, in this snowstorm which has just hit the East coast, I see the Postal delivery vehicles making their way through the residential neighborhoods, and Federal Workers going into work.  Federal and Postal workers are the most dedicated workers I have come across.  To a person, each Federal and Postal employee I have represented to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, never wanted to file for or become eligible for the benefit.  They would rather have worked in their career and choice of Federal or Postal job.  But because they suffered from a medical condition such that they could no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of the job, they had to file.  It is a benefit well worth the cost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire