OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Perilous times

It can refer to the particular or the general, interchangeably almost without thought.  To refer to these “perilous times” is to ascribe to a particular period, an epoch or an era, an acknowledgment that the surrounding days and months are unique from all other timeframes of perceived dangers and tumultuous upheavals.  Or, it can be quite personal — where one describes specific circumstances concerning one’s own life, one’s situation and the peculiarities of a life otherwise undisturbed by circumstances that stand out.

There is that expansive “we” form that can distinguish between the particular and the general, as in, “We live in perilous times.”  Or, one can personalize it and declare to a friend in confidence, “I live in a state of peril” or “My life reflects these perilous times.”  The latter, of course, implies both the particular and the general by including not only the personal aspect of one’s upheaval but the generality of the historical context within which we all walk about.  Perilous times, indeed.

Medical conditions tend to specifically impact individuals in this way — for, in the particular, it hits upon us as a crisis of quality.  How we have lived; the lifestyle we have chosen; the priorities of what constitutes “worthiness”; all of these are challenged by a medical condition that begins to insidiously eat away at our body, our mind, our spirit.

Whether by intrusion of pain or something within us that no longer “works” normally; of private functions that have become worn out, or perhaps it is the memory, mental capacity or ability to cope with daily stresses; but of whatever origin or outcome, we look about for cures and comfort and often find none but some palliative form in a pill or a surgery that fails to correct.  Times become perilous because of circumstances beyond our control.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, perilous times often require perilous choices, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes a necessary next step in attempting to forestall the inevitable results of these very times that we deem to be perilous, whether in a particular sense or in a more generalized historical context.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Wake-up Call

It can be requested pursuant to a prior arrangement or, with today’s technology, prewired on one’s own electronic device.  Time was when there existed an employed switchboard operator sitting in front of a pock-marked surface deftly inserting plugs of a dozen or more connections simultaneously, like an octopus whose coordinated extremities swirl about under and over with cross-purposed entanglements, pulling and inserting, with headphones half dangling, calmly stating, “This is your wakeup call.  Have a good morning!”

Then, of course, there is the other, more unwelcome meaning, of a negative connotation concerning an event or occurrence which portends of that which one may have always known, but only now realizes because of the impending doom.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it may be the chronicity of the medical condition; or, the increasing outside pressures continuing to pile on, of leave-usage restrictions, suspension letters, placing you on a PIP, or the ultimate proposal of removal.

Whatever the proverbial wake-up call, it is time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.   The call itself is merely the beginning of the process; there is the entirety and complexity to undergo, including the gathering of the compendium of medical documentation, the formulation of one’s Statement of Disability and the coordinating of all of the elements of the case, and then the submission and waiting.

The bureaucratic and administrative components of the process can sometimes appear to be archaic and somewhat anachronistic; but like the switchboard operator of yesteryear, the necessity of the service is never in doubt; it is merely the apparatus of change which remains relevant, and properly, and effectively preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a mandate of action compelled by the wakeup call entitled “Life and the inevitability of change“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Adrenal Fatigue

One need not be officially diagnosed with Addison’s Disease in order to incur the wrath and ravages of adrenal insufficiency.

Life’s multiplicity of compounding and complex stresses; exhaustion beyond merely feeling “run down” or otherwise out of synchronized balance from everyday feelings of adequacy; a sense of profound fatigue, where cognitive dysfunctions develop, and where symptoms of falling asleep at meetings, where the world appears at times to become a distant echo chamber and what others view as a normal pace appear in dizzying fashion of incomprehensible clatter of distractions; and where visual disturbances occur systematically as one attempts to view the computer screen and perform work which, in previous times, was merely mundane and monotonous, but now requires an effort beyond sheer force of will.

Does modernity and technological stress contribute to medical conditions which may have no name, and often defies pigeonholing because of the mysteries of the human body and psyche?  A broken arm is easy to identify, and normally just as correctable; a cervical or lumbar disc degeneration, perhaps a bit more complex, but often manageable; chronic pain, but for a parallelism between objective testing and pain points, sometimes an anomaly; psychiatric conditions, of greater mystery which has become too often a pharmacological corridor for treatment modalities; but where profound and intractable fatigue more often than not is beyond the capacity to be diagnosed.

However one characterizes it — of adrenal fatigue, insufficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome, or other designations of type; it is ultimately the reality of the daily toil and turmoil with which the patient must contend.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience such a state of physical and psychiatric condition, 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, may be the best and only alternative available.

In the end, adrenal fatigue may be more than an endocrine imbalance; there is often a complex component where multiple medical conditions ravage the body and mind, and as with so many issues in law and life, there is a vast chasm between having a medical condition, being properly treated for the condition, and proving one’s medical condition in law such that one can be found eligible for Federal & Postal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Fatigue, whether of the adrenal kind or of resulting impact from a lifetime of stresses, is a basis for Federal OPM Disability Retirement; attending to the condition should always be the first order of business; proving it, the second and subsequent thereafter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Chasm Between Sanity and Twilight

Sometimes, there are moments of clarity where one is left with wonderment at the behavioral folly of individuals, organizations, and groups of collective consciousnesses (what an untenable word — the pluralization of that which ends in what appears to be the plural form of the noun).  Whether one agrees with the Supreme Court’s holding that corporations should be treated as “persons”, the fact is that organizations act in collective aggregates in similar manners as individuals and amoebas.

Group-think, herd mentality and symbiotic consciousness of behavior is not unfamiliar to us all; for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, and where the medical condition leads the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether that Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is a fairly routine matter that engagement with one’s agency can be characterized as one of hostility, unpleasantness or unfriendly separation.

Why this is so; what bonds of loyalty become severed merely because the Federal or Postal employee expresses an intent to terminate the employment relationship as a consequence of the onset and intervention of a medical condition; and how the contextual animosity develops into a flashpoint where the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service believes that it must initiate adverse actions or punitive measures; these are all wrapped up within the conundrum of complexities which characterize the human condition, and that is why organizations and organic aggregates of individuals comprise a compendium of human behavior.

It is, in the end, an unexplained and incomprehensible phenomena; what it is; how it can be explained; where one goes to for enlightenment; these questions must be relegated to the dark corners of behavioral recesses within those chasms between sanity and twilight.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire