FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The changing straw

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is a known idiom that essentially reveals to us the last in the series of incidents or actions that cumulatively result in the destruction of the whole.  What in the series preceding the last straw; of what weight and import; to what significance may be attributable, we rarely focus upon; it is the last one in the series that we focus our attention upon, precisely because we assume that it is the causal connection to the event that conclusively occurs with a finality of actions.

Yet, as Hume would point out, the fact that a “final straw” placed upon the camel’s back resulted in the next event following, does not establish a causation where that final straw was in fact the cause before the effect.  It merely shows us that X occurred prior to Y’s conclusion.  If a rooster awakens and makes his morning call and the sun rises upon the horizon, and thereafter an earthquake shakes the foundation of the planet, do we conclude that the rooster was the final straw, or that the rising of the sun “caused” the tectonic shifts beneath?

No – the idiom itself, of course, is not meant to be analyzed in that manner; rather, it is a “saying” that merely denotes that, upon a series of events, issues or actions, there comes a boiling point of finality where enough is enough.  But the evolution of societal norms does, indeed, allow for the straw to change over time.

Once upon a time, people “stuck it out” and remained married – if only to keep one’s vows, or for the “sake of the children”, or perhaps some other noble purpose.  Now, the “straw” that results in a divorce has changed – it can range from “failing to communicate” or even because one spouse has gotten bored of the other.  With that changing straw, people tend to tread lightly, given the low threshold of tolerance.  Law is somewhat like the changing straw – perhaps not the substance (although that can change through legislative action), but certainly the application.

For Federal or Postal employees who are considering 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 issue to always be kept at the forefront is the changing straw throughout – what is the “straw” at work which will help make the decision?  What “last straw” is needed before the cumulative effects of the medical conditions persuade you to realize the need to file?  What “straw” of the law needs to be applied to persuade as to the viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

There are many “last straws” in life, and much of them change as time goes on; the law, however, remains fairly constant, except for the “last straw” of legal opinions that often alter the landscape of substance and applicability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Confidence and Self

When attached to someone other than a “self”, the issue can always allow for suspicion of absence; for, just as we can never fully know someone else, no matter how long we have been acquainted, how many decades married, and how well we have queried, interrogated or otherwise cross-examined, so the capacity of mystery may still remain that surprises us on the other’s deathbed.

What if you were married to someone for half a decade, and every Thursday during the entire blissful state of matrimonial embrace, the significant other went out to purportedly play bridge, or for a “night with friends”, or some other innocent activity encouraged and tolerated (if only because it gave you a break from the daily routine and monotony as well); and, on a twilight’s confession before departing this world, you learned that through all of those years, those many decades and countless hours of being left out, left behind or otherwise excluded, you learn that instead it was for another reason?  Would the reason itself make a difference?

Say, for instance, it was in order to see a therapist each week – would that then result in a question of confidence – whether about one’s own adequacy in supporting the loved one, or concerning the other who felt the need not only to seek help, but moreover, to keep it hidden all of these years?  Or, change the hypothetical for a moment, and instead posit that an “affair” had been ongoing for decades – would that shatter the confidence of fidelity one had in the other, or perhaps in one’s self as to an ability to “know” the world about, and come to be shaken to the core such that you could no longer believe in anyone, anything or any story, including the narrative of one’s own life that always previously appeared to be “happy” by all or most accounts?

Confidence is a fragile entity; a characteristic of the soul that takes but a minor injury to suddenly catapult into a traumatic event; and the “self” is always a mystery that the “other” can never quite grasp, no matter how many decades of study and analysis.

That is why a medical condition is so often an insidious invader and purveyor of shaken confidence, because the equation of physical or psychological derailment works upon an already fragile essence of the human self.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Postal Service or the Federal Agency because of a medical condition that intervenes and interrupts, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often intimately interconnected with issues of self, confidence, and the compound of the two – self-confidence.

It may be that the actions of the Federal agency or Postal facility have completely shattered and shaken one’s self-confidence; or, that confidences previously protected and privacy once thought to be inviolable have been breached; whatever the reasons, a medical condition will often invade the core of a self in doubt, and the confidence of one’s self may need to be repaired by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The limited reservoir

What if the reserve is limited, but we are never informed of it?  Perhaps the gods, fate or however the source of creation is defined, has placed a quota upon the extent of that which is expended, but we are never included in the corporate decision-making process – then, what?  Death, insanity or just plain debilitation and stoppage of activity; is that what we call “an unfortunate end”?

By “reservoir”, we normally mean that natural or artificial accumulation that is used for a specified purpose – the town’s water supply; a special cache of good wines; or perhaps, even that sixth player who is left sitting (a temporary “bench warmer” – though, perhaps in this climate of everyone being nice to each other, such terms are no longer considered appropriate) aside until a burst of fresh input is needed.

Concurrently, we expect that any depletion from the cistern is consistently replenished, except during periods of extreme droughts when we are forced to systematically make use of it with the justification that it is that for which we reserved it in the first place, and when times are better, we will take care in replacing that which seemed limitless just an eon ago.  And, why is it that when the main tank has been completely re-filled, we have a tendency towards excess and lavish spending, but when we hit the “reserve” indicator, suddenly we act with frugal caution and become responsible conservationist?

Is it because of our hereditary backgrounds as hunters and gatherers during a time of unknown and tenuous circumstances, when bodies hungrily stored fat in order to survive during those times of want and scarcity?

What if we are left with a limited number of words in life, and once expended, we become transformed into unnoticed mutes wandering across time, traversing the silence amidst others who have saved their reserve for future accessibility?

Life often “feels” like that – of having reached a point of depletion where the quota has been reached, the reservoir has been emptied, and the excess energy expired.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, it often seems as if the reservoir needed in order to reach that golden mark when retirement age and cumulative years of Federal Service coalesce to allow for passing across the proverbial “finish line”, has been too early depleted.

Unfortunately, medical conditions hasten the reservoir of time, energy, patience and capacity to withstand the daily toil of workplace stresses and employment concerns, and there is often a need to access an alternate source of supply.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for that; it is a means to recognizing that the reservoir is limited, and that the medical condition has reached a critical point where replenishment is no longer an option.  Yet, even after a Federal Disability Retirement is achieved, the Federal and Postal worker can go out into the private sector and remain productive, and under the law, is allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, and still maintain employment and receive the annuity.

For, while the reservoir of one’s life and talents may indeed be limited, it is the limitation of self-imposed stubbornness in refusing to acknowledge that the medical condition has reached a critical point, that often defeats and depletes long before the fuel gauge indicates a warning light of that ever-blinking “danger” point.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law: How Does One Know the Age?

It cannot be by counting wrinkles, or the number of gray hairs; for, some people never develop them, and in any event, new methodologies of plastic surgery, hair dyes and other cosmetic creativities can easily override such superficial eruptions of telltale signs.  Photographs can no longer be evidence of aging, for airbrushing and digital modifications can dispense with such irritating characteristics.

But when there is a personal encounter, how can one judge, and fairly and accurately assess?  Is it the eyes?  That “window to one’s soul” — does it reveal a depth of depravity over time, such that the hollowness revealed in innocence at an early age is replaced by a coldness and cynicism of reflective hurts?  And of the greater age — of this epoch, the generation and historicity of time; how does one know it, too?  Older generations tend to cling to the past, and it is through that prism of past time that the present is viewed, the future foreseen; but does such a perspective differ from those who are young and never experienced the discomfort of lack? And medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability and capacity to continue a career — how does one know?  The subtlety of warnings can be non-decipherable when asked to describe in words.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, it is fairly early on that one has a sense of where one’s career will be going.  Doctors can talk about surgical intervention and medical regimens and their supposed efficacy in treating a condition; but in the end, the Federal or Postal employee who experiences the medical condition itself, knows in one’s proverbial “heart of hearts” whether the Federal or Postal employee will be able to continue in one’s career.

Preparing, formulating and 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 process which is daunting, and thereby delay of diligence is often a factor which is merely engaged despite having known for some time.  It is like guessing the age — whether of another person, or of the historicity of being a stranger in a strange land — it is the subtlety of telltale signs which reveals the future course of an already-determined process of inevitability.  And like aging itself, the fight we pretend to engage is merely an act of futility, and we know it; we just don’t want to look in the mirror and face it, lest those lines of time show us who we are, what we did, and where we are going.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Life’s Spare Parts

They are left as insignificant cast asides, unused and unusable until an urgency of need mandates their sudden relevance; and in a changed moment, their utility determines the worth and value of existence and retention in the clutter of overabundance.  Like the spare tire that is never used, spare parts imply potential need, but the actualization of relevance occurs only when necessity dictates; otherwise, they are like the proverbial bench warmer on a sports team replete with talent and competitive excess.

Most people are seen and treated like spare parts; irrelevant entities taking up limited space, occupying a determined confluence of time, and enjoying the dimensions within a universe where black holes of irrelevance and clutter enjoy an overabundance of regularity.  If utility is the criteria of significance in a materialistic world, then most of us are relegated to irrelevance and uncompromised anonymity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who suddenly find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability and capacity to remain relevant in the Federal Workforce, a primary concern is often the loss of status and stature within the employment world.

We all want to belong, to be making a “difference” of sorts; and even in the midst of a faceless bureaucracy, it is nice to be appreciated and receive periodic accolades for accomplishments otherwise unknown and undetermined.  But a pause tells us that relevance is short-lived and rarely endured; the terrain of untended graveyards throughout the world echoes the quietude of forgotten hopes and dreams, and in the end, it is only family and private relationships which matter.

OPM Disability benefits is a necessary venue of purpose; for Federal employees who cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is a needed benefit in order to escape the toil of employment and allow for recuperation from one’s medical condition, and then to find greater relevance and opportunity in the private sector, and be allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently compensates.

Persisting in an occupation which one can no longer do, is a foolhardy endeavor, at best; clinging on to a mistaken identity of significance, to the detriment of one’s health, is a death sentence determined by one’s own vanity.  For Federal and Postal workers who have a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the choice of wisdom, given the utilitarian perspective of the employment world.  It is a benefit which must be proven, and one must meet the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Considering the perspective of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, wherein individuals are mere spare parts to be discarded at the behest of those who consider themselves royalty within a universe of mediocrity, it is best to recognize that life’s spare parts find best their meaning and value when once a person escapes the treadmill of monotonous insignificance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Delaying the Filing of Your OPM Disability Retirement Application

Delay temporarily suspends for a time in the future; sometimes, at the cost of immediacy of pain, but the human capacity to ignore and obfuscate allows for procrastination to be an acceptable act of non-action.  But certain issues defy the control of delay; medical conditions tend to remind us of that, where attempted suspension of dealing with the pain, the progressively debilitating triggers, or the panic attacks which paralyze; they shake us to the core and pursue a relentless path which betrays procrastination.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement becomes an employment option.

When to file has some room for delay; it is, after all, the underlying issue which must be attended to first and foremost — that of the medical condition.  But the Statute of Limitations in a Federal Disability Retirement case imposes a structural administrative procedure which cannot be ignored.  The Federal and Postal worker who is separated from Federal Service must file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.

So long as the Federal or Postal worker is on the rolls of the agency, the tolling of the statute of limitations does not begin; but once separation from service occurs, the 1-year clock (with some exceptions, but ones which you should not rely upon to subvert the statute of limitations) begins.

Delay for a specific purpose is sometimes acceptable (if one is still on the agency rolls), as in undergoing a medical procedure or seeing if a treatment regimen will work; but delay beyond the bureaucratic imposition of a statute of limitations is never one which should be allowed, as the benefit of a OPM Disability Retirement annuity will be barred forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire