Reflections on Winter’s Desolation and OPM Disability Retirement

Seasons bring out certain characteristics and traits of primate natures; and while artificial lighting, civilized constructs of community comforts and technological distractions of virtual reality may somewhat temper the appetitive rhythms of inherent evolutionary origins, the fact is that our attempts to suspend the reality of our nature can only be met with partial success.  Winter is a time of desolation (unless, of course, one’s home is based in a climate where seasons barely change, in which case the envy of others will reach you through temporal vibrations of mental jealousies).

Somehow, medical conditions become magnified exponentially; physical pain is exacerbated, and psychiatric despair becomes quantifiable. Statistically, there is no greater number of filings for Federal Disability Retirement during one season as opposed to another; but in reality, it is probably more a sense that, as the trees are stripped bare of leaves and the greenery of lawns and nature’s interludes are crisp with reminders of decay, the beatitudes of distracting influences become minimized, and one can turn inward and make a careful assessment of one’s future.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, need to ultimately make that decision, and take that step of affirmative evaluation and assessment, in determining the course of one’s future.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a serious matter, and one where consideration of all factors should be carefully performed.  But how does one go about properly and thoroughly performing the necessary evaluative process?  Often, insular rumination by a singular voice of counsel is less than effective; being one’s own counsel in matters of importance rarely provides an alternative perspective, which is what is needed in matters of gravity.

Seeking the advice and guidance of someone who knows and understands the process, and what the administrative and bureaucratic pitfalls and potential problems one is likely to encounter, is the first step in making a wise decision.

For, while winter’s desolation may allow for the revelation of the nakedness of nature, it is man’s plight which must be considered with open eyes and careful scrutiny, beyond the lonely swirl of the crinkling leaf which floats in the endless time of a hardened ground as it falls far from the tree which sheds itself in winter’s gloom.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Pre-planned Life

Planning is part of our culture; from birth, to plan for old age; from the first entrance into a career, to consider the options for retirement funding; from the days of schooling, to determine the course of one’s career; and multiple intermediate pre-planning considerations, often mundane in nature, such as what to eat for dinner, how many children to have, where to live, etc.  Whether animals plan for the day, and to what extent, may be debated; what cannot be disputed is the extent and complexity in comparison to the pre-planning engaged in by Man.

But life rarely follows along the neat and uninterrupted course of a plan determined days, months or years prior; instead, the hiccups of life are what make for interesting interludes of unexpected turns and twists.  The proverbial nest egg may not have developed as quickly; one’s expectations of career goals may not have blossomed; a child may have come unplanned; or a lost puppy may have appeared at one’s doorstep.

Medical conditions are somewhat like those interruptions of interludes; they may not be as pleasant as some other hiccups, but they are realities which people have to deal with.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a situation where medical conditions prevent them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to undertake two preliminary steps:  An assessment of the medical condition and whether it is likely to resolve within a year or less; if not, to investigate and become informed about Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One of the elements which must be shown is that one’s medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  This can normally be easily accomplished by a doctor who can provide a prognosis fairly early on in the process.

And perhaps a third step:  A recognition that lives rarely travel along a pre-planned route, no matter what you were taught to believe, and more than that, that the value of one’s life should not be reflected by veering into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Cumulative Emergency

Most emergencies need not have been; either through preventative maintenance or attending to it through troubleshooting at regular intervals; or by cautiously identifying overt signs of oncoming problems, the vast majorities of apparent emergencies turn into the status of such urgent needs because of neglect or deliberate avoidance.  

That is not to say, however, that once an event reaches a heightened status of requiring an urgent response, that it should not be treated with the appropriate manner of alarm; rather, it is merely a recognition that most emergencies need not have become so.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the best course of action is to attempt to avoid having the entire administrative process become an emergency need.  

In order to practice containment, one must recognize the medical condition, the potential impact of the medical condition; the time when the medical condition begins to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; a carefully prepared plan to initiating the needed conversation with one’s treating doctor; financial planning to weather the long and arduous bureaucratic morass; and an expectation that one’s own agency will not be supportive, for the most part, throughout the process.

Such recognition of some of the bare essentials which comprise the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement process is easier said than accomplished.  

Life rarely occurs and presents itself in neatly folded stacks of laundered clothing; instead, the more apt analogy is the pile of dirty clothes brought home in a black garbage bag by one’s college son or daughter, with the door opening, a smile on the face, and declaring, “Here, will you take care of this for me”?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire