Federal Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Static

It is the lack of movement or change which is the undesirable aspect of anything, and not necessarily the thing itself.  Perhaps there was never anything wrong with the substance or essence of the thing; the person remains, and yet, the lack of progress, the inability to move forward, the unresponsiveness to the contextual alterations and modifications — the world around changes, but the singular resistance is in and of itself that which negates.

Being “static” — of the lack of movement or change — is normally thought of as a negative perspective upon an entity.  It would be one thing if the nature of being static were to be an appraisal upon, say, an Aristotelian type of “god”, where the so-called Unmoved Mover is “static”, but all else constitutes a universal movement, but of a specific kind: movement towards the perfection of the Unmoved Mover.  But that is not what we are referring to when we speak about being “static”.  Instead, most of us ascribe a negative connotation, as in, “the inability to change or adapt when the context and circumstances necessitate it.”

That is often the problem with Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position.  For, the person him/herself has not really “changed” — aside from the medical condition itself, the essence of “who” the person is has remained static.  However, the circumstances have altered, in that one’s physical or cognitive capacity and ability have altered, normally in a way that no longer allows for a congruity or consistency with the type of positional duties required of one’s job.

Thus, in such a context, to “remain static” becomes a negative component of life, and requires and necessitates a modification of sorts — and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed though the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, is the first step towards breaking away from the negative mold of “being static”, and like the disruptive sounds that crackle like static electricity over a phone line or the sudden shock one feels when wearing a wool sweater, being static can only lead to worsening conditions if one delays in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: On the spectrum between fear and overconfidence

The “what ifs” of life tend to predominate; then, from the deep recesses of brute carnality, where evolutionary Darwinism remains wired in the DNA of a time when civilizations were yet to flourish, and where tea cups were merely in the imaginations of more genteel souls, a sense of uprightness, fortitude and strength of inner character dawns, and we walk out the door refreshed with a sense of deliberative purpose.  But it turns out that such fleeting flourishes of fortuitous firmness lasts but for a twilight, and then we desire to crawl back into the womb of our former skeletal selves.

Fear is how most of us live, despite the outward face of bravado and confidence.  We fear what others might do to us; how the economy is a mysterious force over which we have no control; of deteriorating health; of life itself.

Then, there are days when a calm sense of overconfidence prevails; without any reason or rationale, or perhaps we watched a movie or television show where a certain character manifested a bright and hopeful sunshine of unperturbed calm; but that was yesterday, and lasted but for a fortnight of winks and nods.  For the remaining days, we recognize that it was all an act; and so we live in trembling and fear.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, that placement on the spectrum between fear and overconfidence is well know, recognized, and familiar as the warmth of a mother’s caress.

What the agency will do; what coworkers conspire; what the next news of the deteriorating medical condition; these all fall in favor of the “fear” side of the spectrum.  Those “other” things which call for confidence in the future over and beyond — they come in a spatter of popping grease, and make us wince with the momentary pause of a tap of reality, and then disappear.

How does one escape that spectrum of unrelenting reminders?  For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker, there is always the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is not merely a benefit to be gained; rather, it is an opportunity to take the next step in life, to a beyond where future career and vocation choices may allow for productivity outside of the Federal Sector.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal worker who is under FERS, CSRS or even CSRS Offset, preparing, formulating and filing for an effective OPM Disability Retirement application is the first step towards taking a turn away from the treadmill of that dreaded pinpoint of our lives, where we are stuck in the middle of the spectrum between fear and overconfidence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire