Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Holidays

The “holidays” — or any respite from the daily treadmill of the repetitive reality of daily living — brings about realizations and gestalt moments of insight, precisely because such moments provide for opportunities of thoughtful reflection.

The modern approach of engaging in conversations and discussion for purposes of “value clarifications” became necessary when a tension occurred within society; where new ideas began to question and challenge the old; when habitual engagements of societal values, ethics and mores began to be undermined by revolutionary approaches, technological advances, and unrestrained actions by youthful movements of protestations and revolts.  Similarly, when time and opportunity allows for reflection and contemplation, certain realizations begin to surface.

For Federal and Postal employees who have been suffering from various medical conditions, whether chronic physical pain which limits movement, flexion and unsustainable capabilities of endurance; or psychiatric conditions which impact focus, concentration, and the ability to engage in cognitive-intensive work; the time of the “holidays” can be a challenge, where it provides for an opportunity to take some time off to rest those tired bones; but also a time of reflection to recognize and realize that one cannot remain on the same treadmill forever.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which needs to be considered, precisely because it is not an “opting out of life”.  Rather, it is a means of downsizing, recognizing that one’s medical condition is preventing one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, and to seek a change of venue for the future.

The “holidays” are indeed a time for reflection; but reflection, if allowed without subsequent action, is an impotent moment of self-realization.  Be a rebel; grab the opportunity if presented.  That is what the holidays are ultimately for — to reflect and change course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Vacations

Vacations are a necessary part of the modern world; the stress of work, the burn-out factor, the recognition that the constant treadmill of daily toil, all serve to tear down and destroy the motivational underpinnings of every worker.  It is a temporary respite; a time of rejuvenation and, hopefully, more than merely an opportunity to complete chores which otherwise are left undone.  It is also a time of reflection and assessment.

For those preparing, formulating, and contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, vacations often merely illustrate the intractable nature of one’s medical condition, and the absolute necessity to change one’s course in life.  The chronic nature of a medical condition, by its nature of progressively deteriorating one’s body or mind, reveals itself when a vacation is taken:  the shortness of the time period of the vacation serves to emphasize the seriousness of the medical condition; the medical condition itself manifests the fact that a week, a couple of weeks, or even a month, are not long enough to contend with the progressively deteriorating nature of the disability or chronic condition.

Time for reflection allows a person to face the reality of an impending occurrence.  That is often a good thing.  One of the criteria which must be met in a Federal Disability Retirement application is that the medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months.  One does not have to wait for the 12 months; one does not have to be unemployed or on LWOP for 12 months.  Rather, the prognosis for the medical condition is such that the condition must prevent one from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job for a minimum of 12 months.

On a vacation, the Federal or Postal employee will often recognize that time is short.  Reflection is a positive thing; necessary changes, upon reflection, often become exposed, and it is often a time when the coalescence of three factors comes about:  thought, words, then action.  It is the latter of the three which determines the course of a positive future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: And Beyond…

Can you remember a time of health?  A time in the past when you were pain-free, able to have the cognitive acuity to focus, concentrate, and attend to the details of a task?  A time past is a reminder of the potentiality of a time-future.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the central point of the administrative process should always be kept in mind:  to reach a point in life where one can have a recuperative period of rest, restorative time, and multiple days beyond pain and ill health.  But just as the “gestalt” moment in a psychological awakening is not the end of the story, but merely a slice of life in a greater context of historicity, so the various events of the administrative process in preparing, formulating, filing, and finally obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not the end of the narrative for the Federal or Postal employee seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

There is life beyond; as such, obtaining an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is merely the beginning of the next step, and not the “end” of anything.  An approval from OPM is a goal worth achieving; but such a goal is merely an intermediate step in a greater cause:  of attaining a state of health, somewhat like the “former” self of yesteryears; of planning for a brighter future in a second vocation; and to be able to enjoy one’s family, friends, and the circle of those closest and most important:  those who have been loyal, even when loyalty revealed a disappointment in those whom you depended upon, and thought you could depend upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Life after Disability Retirement

The focus upon the “now”, of course, can not be avoided; for the “now” constitutes the present circumstances, the period of preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; where the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; where the severity, chronicity and extent of the persistent pain, the overwhelming psychiatric infringement upon one’s ability to focus, concentrate, etc.; or where the ability to have the sustained stamina and daily energy has been depleted to such an experiential phenomena that the very “now” is all that one can focus upon.

There is, however, indeed a life after Federal Disability Retirement, and as much of the administrative process of obtaining the benefit is a long and arduous waiting period, it is beneficial to consider what will happen, what one will do, can do, etc., once an approval is obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Remember, in being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, one can go out and earn up to 80% of what one’s former salary pays currently.

Further, this is not OWCP — where, if one is receiving temporary total disability compensation, you cannot work at all (there are some minor exceptions under FECA/OWCP rules, such as if you were working at another part-time position of a different nature prior to the accepted date of injury, you may be allowed to continue to work that “other” job, etc.).  Nor is this SSDI, where there is a severe cap on the limit of what one may earn (although, if one is getting FERS Disability Retirement concurrently with SSDI, then there is an offset between the two).

The period of waiting can be a fertile time of preparation for life after an approval.  Or, such future plans can be placed on temporary hold for purposes of using the time for recuperative rest.  In any event, the “now” is merely a passing time of fleeting moments, as a cherry blossom withering in the early morning dew as the sun begins to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: No Need for an Apology

Federal Disability Retirement benefits exist for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, for two primary purposes:  (A)  to allow a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of his or her job, to receive an annuity because of one’s service to the Federal Sector, based upon minimum qualification criteria (18 months of Federal Service under FERS; 5 years under CSRS) and (B) to encourage that Federal or Postal employee to continue to contribute in the private sector, but working at some other job, and begin a “second” career, if possible.

It is not an entitlement; it is a benefit which is progressive in the sense that it recognizes a compassionate need to compensate in return for the many years that the Federal or Postal employee has contributed to the work force, as well as recognizing the intelligent paradigm of encouraging continuing contribution in a different career path.  Most Federal and Postal employees do not “want” to file for, or become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

It is not a “choice”.  Rather, most Federal and Postal employees, after many, many years of service, have come to a point of recognition in both the extent, severity and chronicity of their medical conditions, as well as the progressively deteriorating impact upon his or her ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job, that continuing in the same daily struggle with life is inconsistent with retention and continuation in the Federal Service.

It is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package that one signed onto when one became a Federal or Postal employee.  No apologies are needed to file for the medical benefit; it is merely the consummation of a contract, agreed to and signed for at the beginning of one’s career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal OPM Disability Retirement and “the Decision”

The decision to finally go forward and start the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is often a hard one.  One needs to consider multiple factors, and the process of deciding to move forward in and of itself can be a complicated one.  Such factors as the medical condition itself and how progressively deteriorating it is; whether and for how long you can “mask” the medical condition; how perceptive your supervisor is; whether your supervisor and coworkers will continue to provide cover for you, and overlook some of the growing deficiencies; whether, even if you cannot do one or more of the essential elements of your job, whether the amount and type of work you are doing are significant enough for you to continue; whether you have a good rapport and relationship with your doctor; whether your doctor will be supportive and understanding; whether your agency will suddenly and without notice place you on a PIP or file a Notice of Proposed Removal; and a host of many other reasons and factors need to be considered.  For many of these questions, an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law under FERS & CSRS can be of help.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire