Federal Disability Retirement: The vacation that wasn’t

When is a vacation no longer one?  Is it when we take work with us, sit upon the sands of timeless recreation — but with a laptop or a pile of papers that are kept weighted down by a crumpled towel and children asking or demanding for immediacy of attention becoming distant noises of irritation and not the gaiety of sharing?

Or, is the intrusion upon our insular universe — you know, the mind’s eye behind the blank stare; the constant rumination of what we expect and anticipate upon our return; the angst over the backup of emails that will await us upon our return; the fear and knowledge that some devious action has been planned for by our boss or coworkers, or perhaps both in conjunction within a conspiratorial scheme no longer veiled with declared foreknowledge and barely hidden beneath the seething tides of backstabbing dominions?

Even that 3-day weekend, or the weekly routine of the 2-day weekend; they are no longer refreshments from the toil and rumination of worry and anxiety, panic-stricken with sleepless nights and dreams that once gave a fading smile but now urging you to wake up in the middle of the night drenched in pools of sweat for nightmares that won’t leave you alone.

The vacation that wasn’t — isn’t — is the one that no longer refreshes and cannot be looked forward to because the anticipation of what will be left behind becomes too overwhelming to bear.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has begun to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, when the vacation that cannot be taken is the one that cannot be enjoyed becomes a constancy of regressive acts of futility, then it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Where weekends merely become a refuge to recuperate for the following Monday, but where such rest and attempted refreshment is merely likened to the proverbial struggle of rearranging the chairs upon a sinking ship, then consideration must be given to the quality of one’s life, as opposed to the quantity of life’s misgivings.

The vacation that wasn’t — it is the one that no longer refreshes because one’s medical condition has exceeded any benefits derived from trying to do more than what the body will any longer allow for, and that is the time to then consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, so that you may focus upon the priorities of life: One’s health and future well-being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: The face in the mirror

Some avoid it; others run to it like an obsession that cannot be abandoned; and for most, it is merely a daily habit that must be tolerated.

The face in the mirror that we view in order to “present” ourselves to the world is the one we are born with, attempt to alter in multiple ways throughout different stages of life – perhaps by artificial means ranging in spectral thunders of surgical alterations, color-dying, parting the hair on the left side instead of the right; trying to cover that growing bald plate that shines like a heavenly orb not needing the assistance of the Hubbell Telescope from afar in galaxies far and wide; of make-up, lipstick colors and hair-style alterations; and yet, somehow, it is those eyes that stare back that seem to pierce within.

And what of that image we hold; was it the imprint from our youth that forever became frozen in the timeless synergies of our inner consciousness?  Does the reflection in the mirror last, for some, for only a second, such that we have to run back to it – whether by the closely-held compact in the purse, the reflection in the store window, or even that oblong shape of a car’s side contraptions – and reassure ourselves that it has not changed much since the last encounter?

Or is it the image we continue to hold onto as that innocent child of long ago who forever swore that neither time, old age nor ravages of bygone years would ever defeat the compliments received and which we hold so dearly?

It is, in the end, the eyes – what Plato described as the windows to one’s soul – that tell the tale of a person’s past.  Does it haunt?  Does it enliven?  Will it glitter and sparkle like the moon’s reflection upon a summer’s pond in its tranquility of calm?  Or does life bring such sorrow within the chasms in between, where the haggard look befalls and betrays the unhappiness residing within?

We need not look in the mirror to gather much that we already know, and yet we keep going back and speaking to that ghostly appearance reversed in proportionality as the negative photograph that smiles when we smile, cries when we cry, but feels not the inner pain that grows with each day.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are at a point in their lives that filing for Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, it is a critical point to consider when you look at the face in the mirror – for, the reflection seen is often not the “real” person that stands in front of the mirror, and the “appearance” is never the essence of the inner soul concealed.  That is the sad truth when dealing with the Federal agency or the Postal facility; they all see “you” as “that person who has a medical condition and is no longer as productive as he/she used to be”.

That is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often becomes a necessity, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – because the face in the mirror is just that – a reflection of unreality – that doesn’t ever reveal the truth of one’s potentiality in a universe that barely cares beyond the appearance of reality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Resignation

It is both an act, as well as a demeanor.  In the former sense, the fulfillment is accomplished by the actual tendering of an offer to terminate a business or contractual relationship, with a declarative statement of unequivocal certainty.  In the latter form, a feeling, a sense of foreboding, and a concession to life’s hardships.  In either case, it is an act of withdrawal, whether by action via terminal certitude or in the wasting away of the soul’s inner flame of light.

Resignation, submitted as an act of defiance to one’s employer or as a private tender of retreat, is a statement of definitive intent, and one that negates the living embrace of Being.  In political circles and parliamentary procedures, there is often involved a game of dare and a play of obfuscation, like card players in a high-stakes poker game where the tendering of a resignation letter is not expected to be accepted; yet, such attempts at bluffing possess moments of backfiring, with the resulting end to promising political careers because of the inability to foresee substance from play-acting, or want of proper timing.  Resigning, and for what purpose?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of resigning from one’s Federal job or Postal employment should always take on multiple questions and conditions of “why”, “when” and “what for”?

What is the reason; why resign; when should the resignation be tendered; and what is the reason for resigning?  Is it because the doctor has recommended such a course of action?  Will the agency refuse to extend the LWOP status during the process of awaiting a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  Will it allow for access to TSP funds during the process, in order to survive financially?  Or are there other justifying, pragmatic considerations to factor into the decision-making process?

These, and many other considerations, should be discussed, evaluated and objectively defined, before a resignation is submitted to one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  For, once the resignation is received, and an SF 50 is generated separating the Federal or Postal employee from Federal Service, then the 1-year Statute of Limitations begins to toll, where the (now former) Federal or Postal employee has one year from the date of separation from Federal Service to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, there are direct and irreversible consequences in the tendering of a resignation in the first sense of the term; as for the alternate consideration – of a demeanor more suited for a change of circumstances – that is up to each individual to embrace, and determine in an existential sense that any resignation from life’s beauty and worth of being, must remain a choice left only to the unidentified tombstones of unvisited grounds where neither hallowed voices are heard, nor hushed silence interrupts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Identity Theft

Concerns over “identity theft” abound in this information age where an almost unlimited trove of personal data gets transmitted through the ethereal universe of the Internet.

Certainly, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management itself should be aware of this, with the recent hacking of Social Security Numbers, birth dates, responses to security questions, etc., and their failure to protect such sensitive caches of information.  But such thievery is normally recoverable; new passwords and keywords can be changed and obtained; additional walls of security impositions can be constructed, and life can be returned to a relative level of normalcy, with mere vestiges of fading memories of inconvenience to haunt our daily lives.

There are other forms of identity thievery, however, which can be more onerous, and unrecoverable.  When an individual is stripped of his or her identity as developed over many years through hard work, dedication and loyalty to a purpose or cause, and that reputation becomes destroyed in quick order and succession resulting from circumstances beyond one’s immediate control, where is the restorative avenue for that?  To what door or office does one apply to regain the loss, and return back to a sense of normalcy?

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who are daily harassed because they suffer from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform, any longer, the full essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal sector or for the U.S. Postal Service, such “identity theft” of an alternate kind is well known and intimately experience.

Those multiple years of toil, dedication and loyalty to development of fine-tuned talents in order to perform one’s job with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service — they become for naught, when one’s worth is so closely tied to one’s health, whether physical or psychiatric.  And so it may be time to “move on”, and this means, in all likelihood and necessity, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Yes, ultimately, one’s OPM Disability Retirement application must be filed with the very same agency whose vault of personal personnel information was hacked into; but that is often the irony of life itself, where the Federal or Postal employee must knock on the very door which allowed for identity theft, in order to regain it again for a new and brighter tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Observing Dogs

They belie conformity of thought, though they are willing to obey and follow strict adherence to rules and commands; and while “experts” in clothing of meandering letters, capitalized after the patronymic lineage displayed proudly as designators of validity and knowledge, may conclude that they neither smile, nor exhibit greater intelligence than primates deemed closer to our ancestral genetic heritage, what constitutes a test of possessing such a quotient is often irrelevant to defining the species.

They can defy; they can doubt, and be suspicious; anticipate by mere thought or look; and know the scent of danger from miles afar, long before any human capacity to fathom such instinctive acuity.  We think we are the great observatories of behavior and time; but dogs can as well decipher with watchful eyes, and smell the aroma of turmoil and disease, oftentimes long before a diagnostic tool can determine the course of future treatment.

We can learn much from observing dogs; for, while we may marvel at the obedience displayed, we mistake such adherence to commands as mere acts of automatons, as opposed to the want to please and the love they possess.  And how much of one’s life is characterized by a need to please, even when it is refused and countermanded with cruelty and crass contempt?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who continue to remain in a Federal or Postal job, despite all indicators from their bodies, minds and spirits to leave for the sake of health, is it any different than the observations gleaned from dogs who obey despite the cruelty of a contemptible master?

It is like the famous quote from Hemingway, that in modern warfare, a man will “die like a dog for no good reason.”  Sometimes, obedience and adherence is nothing more complicated than a desire to please, and to “stay the course” because no other way is known or shown.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is no different than the curse of the cur; and while we may applaud our own superiority by making grand conclusions based upon observing dogs and other creatures, the wonder of it is what those observing dogs must consider of our own plight, as fellow mongrels in a universe replete with stupid cruelty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire