Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Reduction and Emergence

The fear in most instances is that the latter will not follow upon the former; that the state of diminution will become permanent, and the potentiality promised by a subsequent stage of linear progression will instead reflect a downward spiral or, worse, remain in a state of stagnant immobility.   And, indeed, neither in physics nor in human living, is there a stated and inevitable law of nature which mandates that following a period of reductionism, emergence of a greater state of affairs will occur.

Perhaps personal experience even dictates thoughts and reflections otherwise perceived; for, why is it that inventions and innovations seem to occur in youth?  Or that the older populace wants to merely hoard and fend off losses, like the football team that tries desperately to hold on to a lead, and loses in the process because they have failed to play with aggression and abandonment of fear?

Federal Disability Retirement should always be looked upon as an opportunity for the future.  It is likely the most thoughtful paradigm formulated by the Federal government, precisely because it encourages the system of disability payments to be “self-paying”, by allowing for disability annuitants to enter into a different vocation even while receiving a Federal Disability annuity, thereby continuing to pay back into the “system”.

Federal OWCP/Worker’s Comp does not allow a person to work at another job at all, while concurrently receiving permanent partial disability benefits; and Social Security Disability has such a low threshold of allowable earned income that it discourages further alternatives in employment.

But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the Federal and Postal worker can make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, and all the while continue to receive the Federal disability retirement annuity, and meanwhile, accrue further years of Federal Service while on Federal Disability Retirement, such that at age 62, when one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is recalculated as “regular retirement”, the time that one was on Federal disability retirement counts towards the total number of years of service.

Thus, when a Federal or Postal employee first considers filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, there is always the fear involving the immediate reduction of one’s income; but such a limited perspective should always include the further possibility of the corollary potentiality — that of emergence in the near, intermediate or long-term future.

Regrouping sometimes takes some time; but whatever the specific circumstances which necessitate consideration in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, one should always be careful that a skewed perspective of future opportunity is not altered or quashed because of the medical condition from which one suffers.

As emergence is the natural consequence resulting from a period of diminution, and is the pink dawn of hope for the promise of a bright future, so reductionism is merely a temporary interlude in this brief visit upon the historical expansion of man’s infinite and limitless plenitude of potentialities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Loss of Identity

It is often the fear of losing one’s identity which prevents one from moving forward and doing what one must, what one should, and what one needs to do in life.

For some, it may involve the complexity of human interaction and involvement with people; for others, a sense of accomplishment and goal-oriented tasks; but for all, the identity of self developed through reputation, interaction, subjectively-held viewpoints and objectively-determined statements of fact: “others” see you as the Federal Air Marshal, the Auditor, the Mail Carrier, the Electronic Technician, the Air Traffic Controller, the Budget Analyst, the Attorney-Advisor, the Administrative Officer, and a multitude of other identifiable positions which grant to the Federal or Postal employee a defined role in the mission of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is precisely that objectively-applied identity, developed through years of self-identification combined with being defined by others, which in their cumulative aggregation, forms the knowledge of self over the years.  Such an identity becomes threatened, however, when loss of position becomes a reality in the fact of a medical condition which begins to prevent the Federal employee or the Postal worker from continuing in the role of the defined position.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who discover that the intersection of life’s misfortunes cannot be fully resolved in favor of what one wants, but must consider what is needed and required, the realization that loss of identity often raises the specter of roadblocks preventing the building of necessary steps, which then results in procrastination and greater loss due to delay, is a daily encounter with contradictions and conflicts which cannot be compromised.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, for the Federal employee or Postal worker who is under either FERS or CSRS, is a necessity mandated by circumstances beyond one’s control. It is when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, that consideration needs to be given to filing for disability with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The fear of loss of identity-through-job is ultimately an imaginary one, and one which belies the true essence of a person’s identity. One can get caught up in the “mission of the agency” or the camaraderie of corporate functions; but in the end, but for one’s health, very little retains meaning or significance; and to sacrifice one’s health for a bureaucratic entity which will survive long after one’s life, is a folly encapsulating tragic proportions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: You Still Have to Prove your Case

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, many Federal and Postal employees operate under the misguided presumption that, if the Agency has acknowledged one’s medical conditions, cannot accommodate the Federal or Postal employee, and explicitly concedes that the disabled Federal or Postal employee cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, that an approval of the Federal Disability Retirement application is nothing more than a mere formality beyond its submission.  

Thus, for example, the scenario as painted herein might include the Flight Surgeon’s determination for the Air Traffic Control Specialist who works for the FAA, who disqualifies the ATS for either his/her medical condition, or the medication regimen that he/she is taking; or it may involved the Postal Worker who is sent home pursuant to the National Reassessment Process; or it may be a Federal or Postal worker who has been administratively separated from Federal Service based upon his or her medical inability to perform the essential functions of one’s job, and thereby is entitled to the Bruner Presumption.  

All of these case-studies are “nice”; they are promising, and there is obviously substantive and useful evidence that the Federal or Postal employee is probably eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — but what the Agency does or says is not enough.  The Federal or Postal employee must still meet the burden of proof and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

The Office of Personnel Management is an independent agency, separate and apart from the other Federal Agencies or the Postal Service.  What determinations are made by the other agencies will not persuade OPM of anything; in a Federal Disability Retirement case, you must prove your case of medical eligibility, above and beyond what the Agency says or does.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Service Disability Retirement: Differing Legal Criteria

Similar benefits, at the State, Local, Private levels, and at the Federal level, each contain differing legal criteria for eligibility. Thus, for instance, Social Security Disability benefits require one set of standards of eligibility; private disability insurance policies require a different set of standards; and state disability benefits often differ from state to state.  This is of course true of Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS and CSRS — where the legal standard of eligibility is different from Social Security, Worker’s Comp, and State or private disability criteria.

Often, a question is asked whether a medical narrative report which is prepared for submission to the Office of Personnel Management can be used for submission for other “similar” benefits.  The short answer is, “It all depends”, but the long answer is that, in most cases, one must be very cautious.  When I represent a Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS, one of the first steps in preparing a viable case is to request of the treating doctors a detailed medical narrative report.  One must understand that the treating doctor has, generally speaking, next to no idea as to the legal criteria that must be met under FERS or CSRS.  Furthermore, the treating doctor has no legal knowledge as to the differences between private disability insurance policies, State, Social Security, OWCP or FERS & CSRS.  It is the job of the Attorney to make sure and guide the treating doctors as to the criteria which must be met as to the particular and specialized field for which the medical narrative is being prepared.  This must be done with care, and with detailed guidance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire