FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: Sifting

Life requires sifting through a sieve; otherwise, the unwanted and undesirable particles of coarseness and garbage will become part and parcel of the component of one’s daily living.

Have you ever watched how the screen picks up, prevents and protects against intruding contaminants attempting to interlope?  How dust sticks to likeness and filth collects upon kindred spirits?  Are we talking about particles and contaminants — or of humans by analogy and metaphor?  Those descriptions which fit the picture frame of sifting screens can certainly apply to life’s encounter with fellow humans; how we change filters, when, and to what degree, applies to human interaction, as well.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement through one’s agency, and ultimately with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often a metaphorical sifting process which applies beyond changing the filter of one’s heating and cooling system.

It involves the prioritizing of important and significant issues; of whether work should prevail over health; of recognizing true friends and colleagues, of those who show loyalty beyond one’s contribution to the workforce and reveal an empathetic soul when needed; of securing future needs and differentiating between that which is necessary as opposed to sufficient; and in the end, of crystallizing human relationships, where the refractory nature of family, friendships and filial fondness may flower with a collage of hues and colors bending with the corridors of time.

Does all of that occur with merely filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  It is a difficult process, evolving through the origination of a medical condition, and it is often the time when triumph treasures the tragedy of origins, and where sifting of life’s undesirable particles begins.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The “Nuclear Option” after an Illness or Injury in the Federal or Postal Workplace

It is a parliamentary procedure justified by those who invoke it because the circumstances are of such dire contextual urgencies as to necessitate extreme measures.  Such urgency of action is often characterized in a vacuum — a declarative shrill of voices that such an option could not be helped because of the counteraction (or non-action) of the opponent.

Medical conditions have a true tendency to do just that.  Insidious in their inherent nature, they persistent despite every application of treatment modalities, leaving behind confounded minds who spent years and unaccounted energies and accumulated student debt in order to attain the medical knowledge to combat such conundrums of configured confusions.

For Federal and Postal employees 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 Federal or Postal job, the invocation of the nuclear option is often seen as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

Such a characterization is an acknowledgment that the option chosen is one of “extreme” measures, forced because of a lack of choice.  But that would be a misnomer.  For, the “extreme” measure taken would actually be the other options remaining: Stay with an agency and struggle each day while attempting to ignore the pain of progressive physical deterioration or the despondency of psychiatric turmoil, and continue to be subjected to the constant and persistent harassment by supervisors and coworkers; or resign, walk away, and have nothing to show for the years of invested sacrifices given to one’s Federal agency or Postal Service.

No — the “nuclear option” for a Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not the preparation and submission of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application; rather, such an option is best characterized by the other options remaining.  In the end, it is how one characterizes one life, which forms the true character of the individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Suspect

Newspaper stories are replete with articles involving scams, dishonesty and crimes of financial improprieties; that is not surprising, given the nature of what constitutes “newsworthiness”.  Fraudulent claims involving disability applications are trumpeted loudly to reveal the disintegration of a system requiring structural integrity.  Of course, no one makes the distinction that such claims of fraud almost always involves the “other” disability system, and not the option available to Federal and Postal employees through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Just as all politicians are lumped together, so the aggregation and broad-painted brushing of anyone receiving a “disability” annuity is to be expected.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a different animal from the “other” disability system, and with good cause:

First, Federal and Postal employees do not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits until and unless it becomes a necessary option to take.  The general public cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, they complain that Federal and Postal employees have it “easy” with their Federal or Postal jobs; on the other hand, they grumble that receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits is taken advantage of by unscrupulous Federal and Postal employees. But if the employment itself is so easy, why would the Federal or Postal Worker take a lesser income by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  The fact is that most Federal and Postal employees work hard, and well beyond their rate of compensation, in furthering the mission of their agency or department; and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the furthest thing from the mindset of a Federal or Postal employee.

Second, because of the reduction of income accorded by an approved Federal Disability Retirement, many Federal and Postal employees must go out and seek employment in the private sector.  Yes, they can continue to receive the disability annuity so long as they remain under 80% of what the former Federal or Postal position currently pays; and yes, the combination of both the annuity and the employment income can aggregately comprise more than what the former Federal or Postal position was paying; but that is the very attractiveness and intelligence of the incentivized system. It encourages the Federal and Postal Worker to remain productive, and to “pay back” into the system. In essence, it is a self-paying enterprise.

And, Third, because Federal Disability Retirement recognizes that the disability is tied to a particular kind of job, there is very little room for abuse within the system.  One is encouraged to remain productive, and such an incentive allows for the system to remain economically viable.

In these difficult economic times, people are often afraid of considering filing for “disability” benefits; but for Federal and Postal employees who have given their time, life and (often) health in the pursuance of an agency’s mission, being treated like a “suspect” in a broadly-painted indictment is not only unfair, but reprehensible.  The Federal and Postal Worker has nothing to be ashamed about, and the fact that the general public may harbor some hidden resentments during these trying economic times, is merely a reflection upon the often petty nature of humanity, and not a true gauge of the work ethic of Federal and Postal employees throughout the country.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Kierkegaard’s Either/Or

Life is often a series of disjunctions and bifurcation of choices; in mathematics and logic, such series of “either/or” options or “if and only if” algorithms provide a neat analytical explication of a problem.  But in daily living, numerical precision is replaced by a complex series of pragmatic decision-making options which rarely fit into a predetermined set of constants.

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher of some note, whose work entitled, “Either/Or”, presented the stark choice of following a normative life governed by principles and ethics, or one of hedonism and self-interest. One might argue that there are always “middle grounds” where such choices overlap; but the clarified standards as presented allow for foundational paradigms to be followed; let life itself impart the complexities we create of our own making.

For Federal and Postal employees considering the important step of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately a bifurcation of stark options.  For, as there are no short-term disability benefits available (unless it is a work-related injury, in which case one may file for OWCP/Department of Labor benefits; or some private disability policies), the choice is to either remain with the agency and the Federal system, and continue to deteriorate with the progressive decline of one’s health, or to file for a benefit (Federal Disability Retirement), where the medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months and where one is separated from Federal Service upon an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The paradigms presented are clear.  The difficult part is in taking the necessary steps to choose between the disjunction of that which life presents, without getting caught up in the logical inconsistency of a world which believes itself to be rational, but acts in ways which are clearly contrary to its own normative constructs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Choosing from the Options

The self-evident approach to making a right choice is to first understand what one’s choices are comprised of; yet, for many, this necessary first step is never taken, and so the option taken is based upon the choices presented, and not upon the greater universe of alternatives available.  If the parent asks the child in an ice cream store, “Do you want chocolate or vanilla?”, the unsuspecting child will choose from the options presented — until the child observes the one standing in front, who has just received another flavor.  “How about that one?” is the natural next query.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is a universe of options which present themselves in concentric circles of choices within options within alternatives — but in order to make any positive steps towards accepting any of them, one must first be aware of them.

Thus, whether the agency moves forward to remove a Federal or Postal employee based upon reason X, may not be the only option if you don’t know that there may be an alternative option for removal, or to negotiate a delay of the option itself; whether OWCP/FECA, or Federal Disability Retirement, SSDI or VA benefits, or a combination of some or all to be approved; whether the basis should be medical condition A, B & C, or E, F & G, or a combination of some of each category; all such options need to be reviewed and the universe of alternatives explored, until the crucial decision is made of picking one over another.

Wisdom first begins with exploring the explorable universe; if one believes that one’s crib is the only universe in existence, then that will be the one which defines the confinement of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Choices

One immediately hears it in the voice — of the frustration and desire to simply give up.  But “giving up” is simply not a choice, if one refuses to acknowledge such an option and fails to place it on the roster of listed alternatives.  Part of the human factor in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the chasm of the unknown.

No, there is never a guarantee that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved, just as there is never a certainty that one’s treating doctor will support the patient’s need to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is the unknown — from whether the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is sufficient to obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, to whether the doctor’s report is “strong enough”; from what steps the agency will take to try and undermine a Federal Disability Retirement case, to the long and seemingly endless wait while one’s case simply sits on the desk of some Case worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the aggregate of all of these constitute and comprise the “unknown”.

There are cases where a thin sliver of medical documents result in a quick and uncomplicated approval; others, where a voluminous binding of reports, diagnostic tests and medical records result in scant attention and a denial. Often, it seems somewhat arbitrary.

It is the “unknown” and “unknowable” factors which heighten the time of anxiety.  But through the entire administrative process, the singular choice should always be clear:  to move forward.  And sometimes, to do so is to merely wait, and disregard the unknown or unknowable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire