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: House of Cards

The proverbial metaphor referring to the House of Cards is well-known to most: it symbolizes the fragile nature of that which we so carefully construct and devise; the time, effort and sensitive touch needed, sometimes holding one’s breath lest a puff of passing turbulence should undo the work of uncommon concentration. But who among us applies the same levity of construction upon the actual foundation we build in real life?

It is clear that the fragile nature of careers, built upon years of relationships, garnering loyalties and cultivating awards, performance reviews, meaningless pats on the back, and encouragement meted out ever so sparsely. How little we require in payment for our unswerving loyalty and fealty to an uncaring entity, but for commendations constituted by cardboard casts?

For Federal and Postal employees, the House of Cards if often finally recognized when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job. Loyalties are suddenly and conveniently forgotten; past awards become irrelevancies brushed aside like memories shuffled in the mind of an amnesiac; and those glory days of quick smiles and congratulatory looks of adulation are replaced with grimaces and furtive looks accompanied by hushed whispers of sneering conspiracies; and so one is suddenly thrown under or overboard — another proverbial metaphor — the bus or the boat.

Federal isability Retirement is a benefit which is a “safety net” in the sense that it pushes back against the fickle ways of agencies and departments; it is a safeguard against the world of short-term memory banks held by faceless entities. Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it allows for the Federal and Postal Worker to exit the Federal workforce with dignity, and a certain semblance of security, and thereby leaving behind the leaning House of Cards for residency by those more able to continue to hold up that which faces the inevitability of chaotic destruction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Apparent Normalcy

One can venture and maneuver through this world with a semblance of normalcy, where from all outside perspectives, a person is untroubled and unencumbered.

There are multiple complexities inherent in such a perspective, of course: what constitutes “normal”; to what extent do individuals have a responsibility in assessing and evaluating a person’s private world; as well as the problem of infringing upon the privacy of others, and the desire of the other to allow for any intrusion, whether consciously or subconsciously.

For, each person constructs multiple layers of privacy zones — from the proverbial picket fence, to one’s own private bedroom; to the gates of a home; but always, the foundation begins within the walls of the skull of one’s brain.  For, the gatekeeper is always maintained by the individual, as to what is allowed in, and what is manifested for others to observe.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is beset with a medical condition, such that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is often the preparation of the actual forms which is the first manifested evidence of an impacting medical condition.

All throughout the previous many years, the apparent normalcy has been closely protected; great performance ratings, minimal leave taken, and daily smiles and platitudinous greetings; until the Federal or Postal worker arrives at a crisis point.

This is the apparent face and semblance of normalcy — the surprise of others, of the regretful and remorseful comment, “I just never would have realized.”  Or, perhaps it is the indicia of the busy world in which we all live, which allows us to lack any compassion to notice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Personal Looming Clouds

On a bright, sunny day, it is precisely those looming clouds which interrupt the enjoyment of a constancy of warmth; and when it is merely a temporary darkness, where a floating wisp will darken the skies but for a brief moment, it is merely an irritation, a lazy thought where desire and comfort are merely awaiting such passing of momentary time.  But when the looming cloud remains, and others gather, the discomfort turns to a chronicity of dismay, and it is time to change the venue of one’s position.

The deciding point of filing for Federal disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a determination often based upon a “quality of life” state of being.  Temporary discomfort, like a sporadic, looming cloud, which merely creates an irritation, is a bearable state of existence on the spectrum of that which constitutes the entirety of one’s qualitative state of life.

When that spectrum becomes dominated by a chronic state of irritation, where “irritation” has become transformed into a state where the brief respite from pain, or clarity and acuity of mind, is the exception rather than the rule, then it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

OPM disability retirement allows the Federal or Postal worker to have the requisite time to recover and recuperate from one’s medical condition, then to seek out a second vocation in life — one which will not continue to deteriorate and exacerbate the medical condition.  Discovering where one is on the spectrum of the qualitative scale of existence is an important first step towards making that all-important decision — one which may have lifelong reverberating consequences, if one waits too long.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: In a Perfect World

Becoming distracted from the essential focus of an activity is a problem which we all face. In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, it is easy to become overly focused upon what the Agency is doing, will do, or potentially might engage in, which could somehow (it is thought) impact one’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

In a perfect world, the administrative process would proceed in a sequential, logical and methodological manner.  However, this is not a perfect world, and at each step of the long, administrative process, there are always glitches and temporary hold-ups.  The Agency often takes its time; the supervisor may make some statements which appear contrary to facts; OPM may require additional medical evidence, despite everything that needs to be filed for an approval having been submitted, etc.  

The Office of Personnel Management is a paradigm of an imperfect world.  It is an agency which has the power to be the sole arbiter of a Federal Disability Retirement application, for all Federal and Postal employees, and that power is indeed one which can determine the economic future of thousands of Federal and Postal employees.  

Making the distinction between peripheral and ancillary issues, and separating them from the essential components of what constitutes the important aspects of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS will help in the process.  Recognizing that this is far from a perfect world will help to ease the strain of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Resisting the Urge to Panic

The process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is merely the first step in the long road to proving one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

“Merely” and “first step”, of course, are conceptual triggers which have an expanded context for those who have been engaged in the informational infinity of articles, blogs, postings, etc., which are voluminous in quantity, and often questionable in qualitative reliability.  Putting together all of the medical documentation; formulating the nexus between the medical documentation and one’s position description; securing the support of one’s treating doctor; being persuasive and adequately descriptive in one’s applicant’s statement of disability — all of these are necessary steps before the actual filing of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Then, there is the long waiting process.  Thereafter, with the potential for a denial at the First Stage of the process, and a subsequent denial — at the Reconsideration Stage of the process — then preparing for an Administrative Hearing before a Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board:  throughout it all, the urge to panic must be resisted.  

During the long and arduous waiting periods between a denial and the response to be submitted (or even sometimes between an approval and the beginning of interim pay; or between the receipt of interim pay and the finalization of one’s case), there is the looming financial pressure from not having sufficient income during such periods.  Those Federal and Postal workers who have prepared well and have the financial resources to endure the long period of non-pay status are fortunate.  Combining the difficulties of having a serious medical condition with the pressure of finances, the urge to panic is almost unavoidable.  

Ultimately, however, panic will not resolve the issue; the focus must be singularly placed upon attempting to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is entitled and eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and whatever one’s circumstances, the future rests upon one’s ability to focus upon that goal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire