Tag Archives: dealing with a chronic medical condition during federal employment

Federal and USPS Disability Retirement: Change within Flux

The anomaly is that change occurs only within the context of constancy; for, if everything was perpetually in a state of flux, the very concept of ‘change’ would lose its meaning.  It is similar to the argument often made in philosophy where one posits that everything we perceive ‘is merely a dream’; yet, one cannot even arrive at a concept of dreaming until and unless we first acknowledge the reality and existence of a mind which dreams.  We therefore often confuse that which comes after by forgetting the preconditions which are required for positing the subsequent argument.

Ultimately, what is necessary is the foundation of any argument, in order for the flurry of changing activities to flourish.  But a balance must always be sought, and it is when change itself becomes a constancy, and overtakes the undergirding of stability, that one’s life becomes one of chaos and turmoil.

Medical conditions tend to do that to people.  The lack of relief from constant pain; the upheaval of psychiatric conditions, of panic-induced attacks and racing minds; of insomnia and non-restorative sleep; of medications which are necessary but have serious side effects; and the interruptions from stability by the necessity of doctor’s appointments, loss of time at the job, etc.

All appears to be in flux and turmoil.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from such a treadmill of turmoil, consideration should be given in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  It is offered to all FERS & CSRS employees.  Where work was once a column of stability, during a chronic and progressively deteriorating medical condition, it can become the source of increased stress and anxiety because of the lack of understanding or empathy from coworkers, supervisors and the agency in general.

Preparation of a proper and effective Federal Disability Retirement application is essential; flux, turmoil and change should be the intermission, and not the main event.  As such, reversal of course in order to establish the principle of life should be the goal:  of stability first, and changes thereafter.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Discretionary Proprieties

One can know a friend for decades, but catch him or her at the wrong time, and be the recipient of a reaction which astounds and confounds.  In everyday life, most of what we do is based upon a routine of habit.  We may rearrange the deck of chairs by doing X chore before tackling issue Y, but for the most part, our lives are set within the confines of a comfortable routine.  And that is probably a good thing; for, as order and continuity allows for a peace of mind, so a set routine provides a sense of comfort and security.

How we deal with disorderliness and chaos, however, often determines whether the comfort of a routine was ultimately healthy for us.  Confronting a sudden emergency; having a medical condition which interrupts our formulated goals; asking for support from others when a need arises — those are the life “tests” which separate our friends from all others.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the sudden need to garner extraordinary support (and the term “extra-ordinary” is applicable precisely because it requires actions out of the ordinary course of people’s lives) from others — family members, agency personnel, doctors, etc. — will test one’s patience and confidence in one’s fellow man.

In trying to get the support of others, one must use one’s sense of discretion and propriety — of the right time and place — by sensing how to approach each.

The old metaphor of a “bull in a china shop” will often apply.  For the Federal or Postal Worker, the “bull” is the Federal or Postal worker who needs the support; the china shop is represented by all others.  The trick is to walk softly and carefully, and with great tact.  In doing so, remember that you are disrupting the comfortable routine of others.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Chronic Medical Conditions

The concern is often expressed in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, that if a medical condition has been suffered with for multiple years, and perhaps even “pre-existing” the time of Federal Service, and further, since the Federal or Postal employee has been able to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, how can it be characterized as a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?

The answer to such a concern is actually quite simple: The Federal or Postal employee has been able to manage life, activities and the essential elements of one’s job for multiple years; the chronicity of the condition is simply an inherent part of the nature of the particular medical condition; whether because of age, or slow, progressively deteriorating impact upon the body or psyche, the medical condition has ultimately taken its “toll” upon one’s physical, mental and/or emotional capacity of the Federal or Postal worker.

Sometimes, there comes a point where the wall of tolerance to stress, pain or other increasingly debilitating symptoms can go no further.  The fact that the Federal or Postal worker has been able to perform the essential elements of the job for so many years is simply a testament to the endurance of the Federal or Postal Worker.  This is why it is important to maintain a blunt, honest and forthright line of communication with one’s treating doctor.  Often, the doctor will be the one who, for years, has encouraged the Federal or Postal worker to seek Federal Disability Retirement.

It may be that the time has come to take the doctor up on his or her advice, and to begin talking about the type of narrative and administrative support needed to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.


Robert R. McGill, Esqire