Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Trifecta

It is a type of betting where the order is important, and where all three must finish as declared, and if any one of the sequence is different, it matters not whether the one correctly deemed to be first, in fact places first.  We often view our lives as if we are engaged in the trifecta; as if the order and sequence makes all the difference, and where misplacement of our artificially prepackaged lives constitutes a complete and utter failure unless such declared sequence of a lifetime of effort comes to fruition.

That is the problem with Federal and Postal employees who hesitate in making an affirmative decision concerning the most serious of issues confronting them. For, as “work” has somehow been ingrained in our very psyche to be first and foremost in commitment, importance, significance and value, as well as that which identifies us and is in many respects the “essence” of who we are (Aristotle would, of course, be flabbergasted by such a statement as a self-contradiction and perhaps an oxymoron because of the irrationality of such a perspective), we thus sacrifice that which should precede (one’s health) over that which must accede (one’s work).

Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option for Federal and Postal employees, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, which must always be considered when first the Federal or Postal employee encounters a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. We give lip service to how important family, health, faith and X are, but our actions belie the true loyalty of our souls.

In a trifecta, one receives the cash rewards of a correctly-declared sequence of contestants; in life, sticking to a self-destructive and irrational sense of loyalty to a vocation, at the expense of one’s health, is to earn a reward of which one may never collect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Universe of the Possible (Part II of II)

When avenues are closed off, the human psyche tends to shut down; and when grounds manifest fertile regeneration and bountiful splendor, the endless state of the possible opens like the gaping eyes of a child in excitable wonderment.  That is why internet companies attempt to artificially recreate atmospheres of creativity and prior glory days of unbounded imaginations.  But whether simulating a couch plopped in one’s basement or garage, and making it appear as if the environment is similar to those past dawns of tinkering with one’s imagination in the unheated, primitive conditions of one’s youth, is questionable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is faced initially with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to continue in the vocation and career choice of one’s following, the limitations which the present condition places upon one’s future often seems daunting.

But there are options available.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for those options to open up; for, once the Federal or Postal employee obtains an approval for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that (now former) Federal or Postal employee may go out into the private sector and earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, on top of the Federal Disability annuity. Many start their own businesses; others perform consultative work or work part time, thereby controlling the stresses and the extent of activity able to be tolerated within the restrictions of one’s medical conditions.

The avenue of the possible can only reopen once you recognize the reality of the probable; and in order to tap into the fertile imaginations of a brighter future, the roadblocks once observed must be moved in order to travel down the path of viable alternative routes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Flashpoint

The flashpoint is the temperature at which an organic compound becomes combustible; during the entire time building up to that point, the rising temperature in combination with the chemical reactiveness of the substance was all the while sitting in preparation for the point of ignition; were there options to pursue prior to the point of ignition?  If there had been a change in chemical make-up, then perhaps the point of temperature-to-combination of substance would have altered, where either a higher or lower flashpoint would occur; or, the rise of the temperature, and the rate of acceleration, could have been changed.

Whatever the needed changes in order to avoid the flashpoint, however, one thing is clear:  the options are limited, and any altered states would merely delay the ultimate event of a flashpoint occurrence.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the flashpoint of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an inevitability which leaves the Federal or Postal employee similarly limited options.

One can continue in the mode of life which one finds one’s self in: of the daily treadmill of suffering through the workday with pain, profound fatigue and progressively debilitated emotional turmoil.  Or, one can wait for the Agency to initiate an adverse action, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), periodic suspensions or reprimands — or removal.  Or, one can begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Limited options do not necessarily constitute a flashpoint of negative consequences; yes, a fire bursting in a home is a tragedy, but then there are controlled fires and even naturally occurring ones in fields of decay which benefit the environment.

It is thus ultimately up to the Federal or Postal employee to determine the point of combustibility, and therefore the timing of the event identified as the flashpoint.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Intersection with VERA

Questions always abound when Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service offer incentivized programs under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) propounded by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  In accepting a VERA, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition must take into account whether the VERA should take the place of a Federal Disability Retirement application, or whether it will merely be the first step in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

Often, because Federal Disability Retirement takes many months in order to secure and procure, Federal and Postal employees considering such an option will elect to accept a VERA in order to have some income during the time of filing for, and waiting upon, a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Questions which the potential Federal or Postal VERA annuitant should ask themselves include: What impact does a Federal Disability Retirement application have upon a VERA? Is there an offset between Social Security and the VERA annuity, as opposed to the offset which occurs under Federal Disability Retirement, and if so, which provides greater financial sense? Are there provisions where, if the Federal or Postal employee accepts a VERA, one must repay any lump sum incentive which is offered, if one subsequently files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits and gets it approved?

While it often makes sense to accept a VERA, then to subsequently file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service as a result of the VERA, one should nevertheless do so with full knowledge and information.

As a final point, in addition to obtaining all information and basing one’s decision upon full knowledge, the fact that the years which one is on Federal Disability Retirement counts toward the total number of years of one’s Federal Service, should always be factored in — especially if one lives to be a ripe old age, where one’s retirement nest egg will be an important future consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Getting There

Following a GPS can be a nerve-wracking experience.  Yes, there are ways to override specific elements; yes, you always have to be smarter than the technology which one utilizes; but since we have come to a point in our ordinary lives of placing reliance upon technological efficiency, the natural course of events is to simply enter the vehicle, punch in a destination point, and follow blindly.

It is a metaphor of how we operate in the world in all aspects of our lives; and while we like to engage in self-aggrandizements of how we are the highest beings in intelligence, innovation and inventiveness, the fact of our ordinary lives betrays the simplicity of our mindlessly habitual actions.

Following blindly a GPS is rarely the shortest route; it is never the most efficient way; and it is almost certainly not the road to be taken as the safest course.  Once there, of course, all questions about the manner of “how” one got there, disappears; but it is often important to consider the “how”, and not merely the fact that one got there.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are seeking to obtain a period of respite, it is important to consider “how” one will get there.  Trudging along and slogging through routes without considering the options and avenues will often result in the further deterioration of one’s health.  Mindlessly and repetitively doing the same thing will not advance an individual one iota towards the destination that one seeks.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which should be considered, and whether one is under FERS or CSRS, it is an avenue which may be the singular road which effectively “gets there” for the Federal or Postal Worker who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is an option worth considering, but one which the Federal or Postal Worker must “override” the mindlessness of continuing in the same course as yesterday, and the day before.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Line between Chaos and Order

It is a thin line.  Subject to the winds of perspectives, and often alternating between moods, stimuli encountered; adversarial confrontations may destroy the fragile order held together by sheer will power; and in the end, the appearance of calm and order is often a mere front, a determination to survive another day, when it is the boiling pot of underlying chaos which constitutes the reality of the person in need and crying out for help.

Whether it is to mask the pain of physical conditions by ingesting large quantities of prescribed medications in order to survive the day, while all the time concealing it (or simply not providing the full extent of information) for fear of being disqualified or being sent to a fitness-for-duty examination; or perhaps it is psychiatric in nature, and the fear of revelation and isolation from coworkers, supervisors, etc.  The line between order and chaos is indeed a fragile, almost imperceptibly thin one.

Some refrain from considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement precisely because, to do so would be a self-admission that the necessity of filing reflects the seriousness of that growing chaos.  But such chaos can only be contained for a period of a day, a month, perhaps several months, before it begins to manifest itself in ways that others will begin to take note.

Like the largest organ of the human body — our skin — which holds together the complexity of the human body with all of its organs, intestines and the gory details of our inner self, in order to make the human appearance presentable; likewise, the chaos within is contained by a slim margin.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a benefit which allows for that recuperative time in order to settle the chaos; for the Federal and Postal worker who treads the tightrope of a progressive medical condition which is beginning to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, it is an option which must be considered.  Otherwise, the thin line between chaos and order may be trampled upon, thereby exposing the true nature of one’s internal condition, thus revealing the reality of our lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Kierkegaard’s Either/Or

Life is often a series of disjunctions and bifurcation of choices; in mathematics and logic, such series of “either/or” options or “if and only if” algorithms provide a neat analytical explication of a problem.  But in daily living, numerical precision is replaced by a complex series of pragmatic decision-making options which rarely fit into a predetermined set of constants.

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher of some note, whose work entitled, “Either/Or”, presented the stark choice of following a normative life governed by principles and ethics, or one of hedonism and self-interest. One might argue that there are always “middle grounds” where such choices overlap; but the clarified standards as presented allow for foundational paradigms to be followed; let life itself impart the complexities we create of our own making.

For Federal and Postal employees considering the important step of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately a bifurcation of stark options.  For, as there are no short-term disability benefits available (unless it is a work-related injury, in which case one may file for OWCP/Department of Labor benefits; or some private disability policies), the choice is to either remain with the agency and the Federal system, and continue to deteriorate with the progressive decline of one’s health, or to file for a benefit (Federal Disability Retirement), where the medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months and where one is separated from Federal Service upon an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The paradigms presented are clear.  The difficult part is in taking the necessary steps to choose between the disjunction of that which life presents, without getting caught up in the logical inconsistency of a world which believes itself to be rational, but acts in ways which are clearly contrary to its own normative constructs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire