Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Excision & Expiation

Sometimes, the former must be engaged in order to save the whole, lest the lesser segment spreads to infect the greater; while in different circumstances, of contexts involving spiritual offenses, the latter may suffice through acceptable acts of contrition or penance paid through rote words of sincere atonements.  In other instances, the act of the latter may account for the former, while the satisfaction through the former may be sufficient to complete the latter.

Excision is to surgically sever and remove, and then to discard and alienate from the body of which it was once a part; while expiation is to similarly remove, but which can still remain as a part of one’s history of misdeeds.  Both are acts engaged in for purposes of atonement beyond the present state of existential negativity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who, despite the ongoing flagellation compounded by one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service upon the aggregation of negativity impounded through one’s deteriorating medical condition, continue to endure the proverbial adage that when it rains, it pours, consideration should be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In many ways, filing for Federal Disability Retirement is tantamount to the duality of acts involving excision and expiation; for, like the former, approval of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity by OPM results in a separation from that very body of which the Federal or Postal employee was once a part of; and like the latter, it resolves the ongoing conflict and struggle between the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, and the Federal entity or the U.S. Postal Service, in terms of work left undone, dissatisfaction because of lost time, excessive use of Sick Leave, or exhaustion of FMLA benefits, etc.

From the perspective of the Federal agency or the Post Office, excision is the preferred methodology, as the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can then replace the separated employee with someone else.

From the perspective of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the approval of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit amounts to an expiation of sorts, as rendering a benefit to make it all worthwhile, for the years of dedicated service and sacrifice given, and a recognition that those achievements and accomplishments have not been for naught, despite what the last remaining years where deteriorating health and progressively debilitating medical conditions wrought upon one’s reputation and employment relationships.

Excision and expiation; they are the dual forms of atonement for the Federal or Postal employee who takes the affirmative steps in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, when it becomes apparent that loss of physical or mental capacity in the face of impending health conditions is not a basis for surrendering to the inevitable vicissitudes of what life brings to the fore of man’s future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Medical conditions and the “to-do” list

We often approach everything in life in a repetitive, systematic manner; of a routine which engenders habituation of comfort, and of identity harkening to obsession of similitude.  It is said of Kant that his neighbors set and corrected their watches and clocks according to the regularity of his walks, as his life maintained a predictability of precision so reliable that error could only be ascribed to a mechanical defect, and never to his human constancy.

It is as if there is an internal “checklist” in order to attain a progression of human development, and in an effort to achieve that advancement, both of thought and of physical growth, we must be assured of completion and fulfillment.  But medical conditions are never like that; we cannot “do something about it” and expect to “check it off” of our “to-do” list, only to move on to the next item on the itinerary.  A pastor once quipped, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  True enough; although, there could have been an addendum:  “And where there are problems, you can always find impure motives.”

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 problem is one of duality of purpose:  For the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, the approach of attempting to “check off” the medical condition as another item on a “to-do” list is always rebutted by the stark reality of the medical condition itself; and from the Federal agency’s perspective (or the Postal Service’s), the thought-process of “when will it go away” simply avoids the issue, and fails to address the problem of the conflict which arises.

Thus, the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement is there for the Federal or Postal employee, precisely to allow for those circumstances in which (A) the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to be able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, (B) the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months — not that one must wait for 12 months, but rather, that the prognosis by a doctor or medical provider is willing to state that the medical condition will, within reasonable medical probability, last for that long, and (C) accommodation of the medical condition is not possible, and reassignment to a position at the same pay or grade will not ameliorate the situation.

In the end, medical conditions defy the human attempt to treat it as merely another obstacle to overcome, or an irritant to set aside.  It is a condition of human existence which represents a trial for a linear life we attempt to manage, when in fact a change of course is often the remedy, and not the repetition of comfort found in the thoughtless quietude of habit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Pivotal Moments

In basketball, it is a key movement of escaping an opponent’s attempt to block or steal the ball, so long as one foot retains its point of contact with the hardwood floor.  In the game of greater life, it is a moment, in contradistinction from a singular series of movements, comprising the culmination of a spectrum of events, which requires a decision of exponentially quantified significance, such that it may be considered metaphorically to be “earth shaking”.

It can seemingly be as minor an event as when the first confrontation occurred as a child, challenging one to a fist fight; but, in retrospect, win or lose, that moment was pivotal in the sense that it determined the future character of an individual’s make-up:  of courage or cowardice, of fight or flee, and of facing up or turning away.  Or, of greater relevance, at least on a memory and consciousness level, of a career choice, of which school to attend, of whom to marry, and of raising a family despite difficulties, or divorcing with impressionable regrets.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is just one of those “pivotal moments” — it is a point of reference, the proverbial “fork in the road”, and the Frost-like road less traveled.  For many Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, “sticking it out” and enduring the pain, the constant harassment and pernicious hostile environment, is actually the path of least resistance, precisely because the repetition of habitual comfort is often preferable to the unseen, unknown and unforeseen.

Like the basketball player who must maintain the point of contact with one foot while moving about on the other lest the referee’s whistle blows for a traveling violation, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that he or she is no longer able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, remains within the “safety net” of the greater arena of life.

But within that macro-context of one’s future, whether one remains or takes an affirmative step by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, will determine that future orientation where retrospective dismay may tether the soft landings of past regrets, when once butterflies fluttered like the dreaming spirits of yesteryear for pivotal moments once grasped at, but lost forever in the floating vestiges of our memories of yore gone and long forgotten.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Psychiatric Disabilities — Origin versus Situational

While the issue concerning “situational disability” has been previously discussed and written about in my various blogs and articles, it is helpful to keep in mind certain conceptual distinctions when preparing to file for Federal or Postal Disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

The concept normally applies to psychiatric disabilities, and specifically to two major areas:  Major Depression and Anxiety.  The paradigm of such a case often involves a Federal or Postal worker who has had some difficulties, conflict with, harassment by, etc., a supervisor or coworker within the agency. The Federal or Postal worker begins to manifest symptoms of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc.  An EEO Complaint is filed; a grievance is filed; perhaps, several such alternative venues of legal processes are utilized.  Despite fighting back, the hostile work situation fails to resolve itself.  More importantly, the psychiatric medical condition continues to worsen.  

Does this simple hypothetical constitute a basis for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, or is it precluded by the legal preclusion of “situational disability”?  As with all generic paradigms, the answer is:  It all depends.  

One must look at the chronicity of the psychiatric medical condition; whether the symptoms pervade all aspects of the life of the Federal or Postal Worker; to what extent the psychiatric medical conditions impact his or her ability to perform the essential elements of the job; and to what extent the Federal or Postal worker can perform such a job in a different environment.  It is in the details of the conceptual distinctions made, which determine the course of viability in filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Psychiatric Issues

For Federal and Postal workers who are filing, or contemplating filing, for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the distinction between “physical” medical conditions and “psychiatric” medical conditions are not always so clear and distinct.  While cases can be bifurcated for many clients (where the medical basis upon which a Federal Disability Retirement is based is wholly physical, or entirely psychiatric), often, cases have a “mixed” character to them, where depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., arise or become “secondary” to a chronic medical condition.  

The complex interaction between physical pain, chronic medical conditions which impact one’s job, physical abilities, etc., can at their inception be “secondary” in the sense that they have arisen and manifested the symptomatologies “after” or “second to” the original medical conditions.  However, after some time (and this is being stated from a legal perspective reviewing many such instances in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS), such secondary Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and even other psychiatric medical conditions, can become the central or prominent medical condition which forms the basis of a OPM Disability Retirement application.  Thus, that which was once “secondary” does not always remain so; it can become the primary basis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney