OPM Federal Disability Retirement: Fiscal and Other Cliffs

The general public is, by and large, rather puzzled by the inability of the Executive and Legislative branches to come to terms with the impending “fiscal cliff” facing the nation, precisely because they face such hard decisions on a microcosmic level on a daily basis.

In representing Federal and Postal employees to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is clear that the “everyday person” faces tasks and obstacles which require hard decision-making almost on a daily basis.

The surreal world of the Federal Government, where there is never a debt limit, and where the hardest task is determined by the difficulty of reelection, fails to properly recognize and appreciate the daily toil of its own workers.  Proper management at the highest levels of government should be presumed to take place, so that the “field workers” can continue doing their duties.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has come to a point in his or her life that the positional duties cannot be performed, anymore, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is one which comes with a harsh realization:  one’s chosen career may be effectively over; the camaraderie and interaction with coworkers will cease; the financial security of one’s future will be compromised, etc. But necessity of action results in the making of such decisions, and Federal and Postal employees must, and do, make such decisions on a daily basis.

They face fiscal and other cliffs almost daily; as greater responsibility falls upon those in higher echelons, it is a puzzle why there is a cliff at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Once the Decision is Made

It is often the decision itself which is the greatest hurdle in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  The decision itself is the all-encompassing beginning point, the obstacle which must be reviewed, analyzed, discussed, and ultimately overcome.

Once that decision is made, then the floodgates open with respect to the approach, the procedural issues, the time-frame within which to file, the garnering of support from one’s doctor; the legal avenues and pitfalls which must be confronted; the financial burden which must be faced and adjusted to; contending with issues at work; whether to inform the agency’s Human Resources office at this point or when the Federal Disability Retirement application has been prepared and is ready for submission; whether and what to discuss or hint at with one’s supervisor; which medical information to include or merely weave throughout the narrative of one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the problem of quantifying in a substantive manner one’s medical conditions; how best to characterize the essential elements of one’s job; the connecting of all of the dots; the building of the nexus between one’s positional description and the medical conditions suffered.

These are merely a few of the issues which must be confronted once the decision to proceed is made.  Federal Disability Retirement is an important decision to embrace; it should be treated in accordance with its important status.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Procrastinating within the Tolling Statute

Whether by resignation or by separation by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the tolling of the Statute of Limitations for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS begins — and the statute allows for filing for a Federal Disability Retirement application within one (1) year of such separation from Federal Service.

Exceptions to the rule of the Statute of Limitations are few, explicit, and rarely allowed, and have to do with mental incompetence, narrowly defined, hospitalization for mental illness, appointment of a guardianship which shows one’s inability to attend to one’s daily affairs, etc.  Thus, once the Federal or Postal employee is separated from Federal Service, one should count on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of such separation, and not rely upon any fantasy of being granted any extension, or excused for having had periodic or episodic medical conditions preventing one from engaging in certain acts or attending to various activities.

Procrastination is a trait of luxury unique to the human animal; because animals, whether domesticated or not, have an innate sense of urgency for purposes of survivability, the ability to project into the future and delay the necessary immediacy of a present response, is an alien characteristic.  

Such an element of artifice — procrastination — would not have any meaningful foundational purpose, a “telos“, which would make any sense; except, of course, for the human condition.  Because of the complexity of the human condition — of the technological world we have created, of multiple tasks, of time, movement and being within the context of our historicity, present world and future anticipated occurrences — procrastinating has become an artificial feature of our human condition, and indeed, almost takes on an element of need for our survivability.  But in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, procrastinating in filing for the benefit does one no good.

Meet the deadline by working on it steadily, steadfastly, and without delay.  Remember the dictum:  If you don’t file, you can’t argue anything; at least if you file on time, there is always a chance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Avoidance of the Close Encounter

Ultimately, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management requires a “setting aside” of a direct encounter with one’s acknowledgment and concession that one has an intractable medical condition which is directly impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  It is to come face to face with the realization that the hard-fought career goals, the years of schooling and education; the overcoming of the inevitable learning curve during one’s youth and inception of a career — are ending not as a result of actualizing one’s dreams and goals, but because of an intermediate cause:  a medical condition.  

The struggle to continue working despite the chronic pain or deteriorating cognitive capabilities is the natural attempt to prolong that which one worked so diligently to strive towards; but at a certain point, such a struggle to continue working despite the increasing manifestation of the medical symptomatologies becomes an “avoidance” issue — of avoiding having to face the inevitable decision-making process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

At some point, however, prolonging the avoidance issue for too long leads to the inevitability of a flashpoint — of an emergency resulting from a crisis, where the Agency itself will propose an adverse action, or the medical condition itself will dictate the terms and conditions which necessitate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Avoidance will force the close encounter; too long of an avoidance will make the encounter not just close, but a direct impact requiring emergency actions.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Decision-Making

It is interesting how individuals make decisions, especially on important matters.  In coming to a decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the process itself is often an admixture of rational lists, emotional reactions, and a keen sense of realization.  While we often like to think that the “decision-making process” involves a reasoned, deliberative methodology of thought-processes, the reality of it is that most decisions are made more upon a reliance on instinctive feelings.  There is actually nothing wrong with that.  When an individual is suffering from one or more medical conditions, and those conditions are clearly impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, it is often the rationalization which impedes the necessary decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Thus, economic and other reasons come into play, which often prolong the gut-instinct of the need to file.  This tension — between what the body is telling one, and what the mind is attempting to prevent — is a natural part of the entire process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The Time to Make the Decision (Part 1)

Waiting until the last possible moment to start the process to file for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS may be commendable from the Agency’s viewpoint — but is it smart?  If you are a Federal or Postal employee with multiple years of service, and you believe that because you gave your life, your blood, your sweat, tears, and even your firstborn, that therefore you will receive what I often term as “bilateral loyalty” (i.e., an expectation of receipt of loyalty from your agency for having given your undying loyalty to them throughout the years), you might want to reconsider.

If you are exhausting all of your sick leave, using your annual leave, dipping into your TSP in order to “hope” that you will recover from your continuing medical condition, then come to a point where you need to file for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, then come to realize that you must survive for 6 – 8 months, or even longer, and pay an attorney, pay for medical reports, and _______ (here, you may fill in the space yourself), then you may need to re-think the entirety of the process, the time it takes, etc.  Most people know, very early on, whether or not he or she has a medical condition which will last for a minimum of 12 months.  The time to start planning for the future is now.  As a famous football coach once quipped, “The future is now.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire