OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Factors to consider

The universe of thoughtful decision-making shrinks exponentially and in direct correlation with the pertinent and relevant information gathered, and it is too often the case that factors not considered are the very ones which lead to a non-decision or, more importantly, to a wrong conclusion.

What factors should be considered when a Federal or Postal employee is going to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Certainly, age can be a factor — for, if OPM engages in a recalculation of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity at age 62, and you are fast approaching that age, the factor of “how long it takes” to get an OPM Disability Retirement approved (about a year, give or take a few months on either side of the equation); whether you get any backpay once it is approved (back to the last day your Agency or the Postal Service has paid you anything); and whether the time you are on Federal Disability Retirement counts towards your total number of years accrued until the recalculation age at 62 (it does) — should all be factors to consider.

Further, even if you are still relatively young, should those same factors be considered?  The short answer is an unequivocal “yes” — and probably many others, besides, including: Do I intend on working at another job in the private sector while on Federal Disability Retirement?  Do I have Service-Connected disabilities that can play a factor [sic] in the factors to be considered?

The universe of factors to consider in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, are innumerable; and then, there are likely factors that you have not even considered, but which may be prompted by consulting with an attorney who has already considered multiple factors besides, and who may be able to guide you in this complex process called “OPM Disability Retirement”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The last Edwardian

What does it mean to be an “Edwardian”?  The reign of Edward VII was brief, but its influence is often extended to periods both before and long after in an aggregation of understanding “trends” that were noted, and often idealized.

It is a period of little interest to most Americans, except perhaps when there is some vague reference during a period of a royal scandal or a royal wedding that somehow touches the fancy across the great ocean that divides.  And despite our English “roots”, scant attention is paid to the history of England in either schoolbooks or offered curricula, except in referring to those dastardly “redcoats” who quartered themselves uninvited and had the audacity to tax its colonies without proper representation in Parliament.  Or so the memory of one’s childhood history lessons are recalled.

That period — whether one extends it some decades before, or well into the “Roaring Twenties” — actually lasted only from 1901 – 1910, but left a romanticized memory of lazy summer days, prosperity, greater involvement of women and the “common man” into the political arena, and came to symbolize the dawn of the “modern era”.  Whether such an idealized recollection actually reflected any reality of the era is open to debate.  But, then, that is what we cling to when situations worsen, isn’t it — of an idealized “before” in contrast to the stark gloom of “after”?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, that desperate “clinging on” to one’s job may in part be attributable to the need to be that last Edwardian — of a “before” (before the onset of the medical condition) when life seemed more rewarding, when pain, discomfort or overwhelming anxiety was not only unthought of, but never occurred as an issue of consideration — who “after” the onset of the medical condition can now only recall the romantic period that once was.

Filing a 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, may not solve every problem that besets the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer consistently get to work and accomplish all that is required by the position; but it does allow the Federal or Postal employee to prioritize and focus more upon the reality of one’s current situation — one’s health — and not become entrapped in trying to be that last Edwardian.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Relating negative events

Bad things come in pairs, or is it triplets?  Is there a tendency to relate and categorize in terms of color, logical sequence, similarities and characteristics?  Is the Kantian model of imposing categories upon an otherwise orderless universe the reason why we relate negative events in bunches, like grapes growing upon vines waiting to be picked?  Or do bad things happen in combinations naturally, as a law that cannot be avoided?

When we learn that others have been speaking ill of us, or of unkind statements and gossiping rumors spread about, do we not then consider the look of those around us and begin to suspect that the facial frown was directed at us, the distracted individual is not merely lost in his or her own thoughts, but is deliberately ignoring and shunning us, and even the dog that was once friendly is heard to emit a low-growling sound of unfriendly disposition?

Relating negative events is a natural response to a world that is orderless, and one that can be cruel — a perspective that is easily and readily confirmed by the uncaring attitude not just from an impervious universe, but from those who pretend to be out best friend, as well.

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 worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Universal Law that dictates relating negative events becomes unavoidable: Suddenly, because you have taken too much SL and have requested FMLA, you are no longer the “golden boy” (or girl) who can be relied upon, and next comes the leave restrictions; the “Memorandum of Warning”, and then even a PIP; and what next?

Termination is the target for the future.

All the while, the “negative event” was the deterioration of one’s health, which then set into motion all of the other negative events which became related one to the other.

Bad things, unfortunately, happen in bunches, and it is important to initiate a “positive” element and infuse a “good” thing into the middle of those bunches of negative events, and 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, is that positive step one can take for one’s self in the morass of relating all of those negative events that seem to have occurred without your consent.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Expertise

What constitutes it, and who determines the status of when it is achieved?  We hear about people who are “experts” in this or that, referring to either experience, association or credentials, and based upon that, we accept their status of being an “expert” in the field.  Can that be undermined by personal experience?

Say a person has a Ph.D. in a given field, has worked in the capacity of that field for 30 years, and everyone in the field refers to him as the “resident expert” or “the best of the best” in the field; and yet, in a given situation calling for his or her expertise, he or she fails, is wrong, or otherwise falls short of having provided any competent input.  Does that undermine the expert’s status as an expert, or does one shrug one’s shoulders and say, “Well, you can’t be right all of the time”?  Say a “non-expert”, during the gathering of expertise and amassing of various opinions in making a critical decision, suddenly pipes up and says something contrary to what Dr. X – with-the-Ph.D-with-30-years-of-experience believes and has stated, but in the end he turns out to be right — does that make him or her the new resident expert?

There are, of course, the various logical fallacies — like the fallacy of “association by reputation” or of presumed certitude based upon past experiences (refer to David Hume, for example); but the ultimate question may come down to a simple grammatical one: is the concept used as a noun, an adjective or an adverb?  How does one “gain” expertise, or attain the status of an “expert”, and can it be by experience alone, a credential earned, or by reputation gained — or a combination of all three?

How did Bernie Madoff swindle so many people for so many years?  Was he considered an “expert” in financial matters, and what combination of the tripartite status-making byline (i.e., reputation, experience and credentialing) did he possess to persuade so many to be drawn to him?  Or, is it sometimes merely greed and a proclivity of vulnerability to a good storyteller enough to persuade one that a certain-X is an “expert”?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a point in their lives and careers where a medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform one or more of the critical or “essential” elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, a certain level of expertise may be necessary before preparing 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.

Ultimately, it is not “expertise” or some prior reputation that is important, but the accuracy of information received and the truth of the knowledge relied upon — and for that, one should do due diligence in researching not merely the “credentials” of those who declare some “expertise” in the area of Federal Disability Retirement Law, and not even self-puffery of self-promoting success, but in addition, an instinct as to the truth of what is stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The content

It is ultimately the content that matters, especially in a technical, administrative procedure where tone and context become secondary.  After all, we are addressing a “medical” issue – a cold, clinical subject when it comes to filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

What should be included?  How far back?  What is meant by the “essential” or “core” elements of a job?  Does the capacity and ability to arrive at work for the duration of completing assignments in and of itself constitute an “essential” element of the job?  What if the job can be performed, but one simply cannot drive to the job?  Must I address failed efforts by the agency to “accommodate” me, and does the term “accommodation” have a narrower legal meaning than the way it is loosely used by my agency?

These and multiple other questions go to the heart – the content – of the issues presented when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Content is all important, and the audience to whom the Federal Disability Retirement application is intended is relevant to keep in mind.  If you are standing in line at a grocery store, or at a Post Office, and someone remarks to you, “You are obviously in pain.  Go ahead in front of me” – such kindness and consideration may prompt you to explain, in somewhat abbreviated form, the content of what your medical condition is.  However, if that same person who showed such consideration turned out to be a close family member, who either already knows about your condition or is otherwise intimately familiar with the circumstances and the history of your medical condition, your response may be somewhat different.

How much history of the medical condition needs to be related to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; what medical records need to be attached and accompany the narrative report that creates the “bridge” and “nexus” between the medical condition and the essential elements of the job duties – these all fall under the general aegis of “content”, and must be carefully considered in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Hardened hearts

They are unseen, but exist; and like zombies that wander through the nighttime skies as mere shadows in a one-dimensional universe, the concealment of hardened hearts can only be kept secret for a short while.  Where does the apex begin, and the downward spiral begin?  At what point does one possess a hardened heart, and does it insidiously creep upon one without one’s knowledge, conscious thought or deliberative realization?

We fight against it; we refuse to submit to it; but life happens, disappointments abound and the subtle cravenness begins to slowly, inevitably overtake.

Hardened hearts result from the encounters with life’s misgivings, and the more the misgivings, the harder the heart hardens.  Is it mere cynicism?  Does it emanate and originate from a single encounter, or must there be multiple clashes, butting of heads and piercing of hearts before the innocence of youth transforms into a meanness of spirit?

Hatred is an emotion that festers and eats away; and like flesh-devouring predators that feel nothing about their prey, hardened hearts shrivel into a latency of unfeeling behaviors.  It is a difficult road but a necessary one to take – to resist, to fight against, and to protect the purity of one’s soul.  Hardened hearts are the result of giving up, of losing hope, and of turning one’s back upon a society that has otherwise already given up on an individual.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel the onset of that condition known as “hardened hearts”, the symptoms are quite noticeable: of bitterness; of anxiousness in going to work; of the recognition that one’s Federal Agency or the Postal facility does not show any loyalty towards you despite years and decades of dedicated work.

The diagnosis of a hardened heart, if the Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, may be to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In the end, hardened hearts are merely another happenstance of life’s misgivings, evidencing the cruelty of the world in which we live; but there are ways to avoid the final diagnosis of a mortality robbed of joy, and that may be by filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and “moving on” to try and save that last vestige of an innocent outlook upon life’s sunset of tears.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire