Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: GPS or Map Reading

Unforeseen consequences have become the expected norm; for, as technology progressively innovates, the quickened pace of advancement defies any allowance for thoughtful retrospection, leaving aside the need for anticipatory planning, as to the future impact of present actions.  Creating an antiseptic society which declares that simplicity of thoughtless actions is the goal to achieve, should anticipate a tremendous stunting of evolutionary progress.

For, if the theory of evolution is based upon environmental stresses which force microcosmic mutations, then what would be the reverse impact — when technology unburdens such stresses?  We no longer read maps; the GPS tells us where to go, when to turn, what street we are on, and when we have arrived.  We are daily told what to do; we need not figure out anything, anymore.  When we encounter a life-situation where our involvement and active participation is crucial to the success of an endeavor or process, the training which we have previously been given will reveal itself.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, must by necessity be an active one, and not passive.  Decisions must be made; steps must be initiated; statutory and regulatory processes must be followed.

Life does not run the course of an electronic voice emitted by one’s Smart phone; some functions must engage the mind of the participant; map reading is still a skill which may be required, when the technology we relied upon fails to deliver.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stifle, and that is entirely understandable.  But the rest of the world continues to forge forward, and so do administrative processes, whether we like them or not.

In the end, the minor evolutionary mutations are never dependent upon any singular act of inaction; but the cumulative impact of a population waiting for direction can be altered by a single Federal or Postal employee who takes the affirmative step in preparing for his or her future by deciding to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — if not for the greater populace, then at least for his or her personal life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Moving beyond the Stagnant Waters of OWCP

“Is it possible…” is an impossible question to answer.  For, the conceptual distinction between that which is possible, as opposed to probable, is one which reveals the chasm between the world of fantasy and one of reality.  The world of the “possible” is unconstrained and unbounded; the world of probable occurrences may be fenced in by statistical constructs, actual circumstances, and real-world experiences.

While it is possible to stay on OWCP for a long duration, it is also probable that OWCP will cut off one’s benefits at some future, undetermined and unexpected time.  Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who is on, has been on, or even is contemplating filing for, OWCP/FECA benefits because of a work-related injury, the benefit itself is attractive enough to remain on the rolls of OWCP until such time as (A) the Federal or Postal employee can return back to work, (B) the Federal or Postal Worker is deemed recovered, and the OWCP benefits are cut off, or (C) the Federal or Postal Worker decides to “move on” in life.

The first two choices are essentially out of the arena of “control” of the Federal or Postal employee, for one cannot determine or expedite the recovery period of a medical condition, and further, only the doctor (or its surrogate, the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) can determine whether or not the Federal or Postal work is now recovered.  As for the last choice, however, it is the Federal or Postal worker who can make the determination — especially if one has already gotten an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

OWCP is not a retirement system; one cannot work at another job while on OWCP; one must sit and do what the OWCP case worker tells you to do.  It is only with Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, that one can actually engage in another, alternative vocation or career, and begin to move on in life, and become released from the stagnant waters of a constraining medical condition — or that of OWCP.

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

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Pushing the Reset Button

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is like the proverbial phrase of pushing the “reset” button.  While the phrase is overused and in many ways has lost its useful meaning, the conceptual underpinning implies that it allows for a fresh start.

The decision itself is often the largest hurdle to overcome; once made, it allows for a goal-oriented outlook on a different course of action, and often compels the Federal or Postal worker to manage one’s “life-affairs” with greater determination and incentive, perhaps because one is provided with another proverbial gift:  the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  For, the darkness which pervades is often characterized by the morass of daily pain, the chronicity of the pain, the endless and incessant meaninglessness — of the vicious cycle of coming to work only to survive; then to go home only to recuperate in order to turn right around and go into work for another day of survival; and, often, to an agency which eyes the Federal or Postal worker with suspicion and with little or no loyalty, compassion or sympathy.

Federal Disability Retirement is meant as a mechanism for recuperation from one’s medical condition — a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s particular kind of job, but which will allow for future work in another vocation.  It is the ultimate “reset button” — to allow for the beginning towards a different tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: 2012 and Beyond

The designation of the year as “2012” is, from a historical perspective, an artifice.  Different countries and cultures have other methodologies of identifying the continuum and sequence of the cyclical seasons.  

Whatever the artifice, however, the reality of daily living remains an encounter which must be dealt with, and for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from one or more medical conditions, who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, the first step in the process is often the hardest, but the one which must be taken in order to make any advances for the coming year.  

Whether that “first step” constitutes contacting an attorney, obtaining the blank forms (SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series for FERS employees; for CSRS employees, SF 2801 series and SF 3112 series), talking to one’s treating doctor(s), etc. — it is the first step which is the hardest but the most significant.  

Days advance; weeks go by; the “new” year steadily marches towards the half-way point, then beyond.  Procrastination is often a self-protective mechanism of human beings — but one which is contradictory and often leads to self-harm.  Don’t let the days pass by, lest the year go to waste.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Decisions of the Federal and Postal Employee

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, the ultimate and deciding “first step” factor which propels the entire process, of course, is entirely within the authoritative realm of the Federal or Postal employee contemplating such a course of action.  

In making any decision, however, the trajectory of options begins to diminish when the options themselves become more and more limited and restricted by external circumstances.  Thus, when the Federal or Post employee is removed and separated from Federal Service, then the option to file becomes clearly defined:  one must file within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service, or you lose your right to file forever.  Or, if the threat of being separated from service becomes cumulatively overwhelming; or, perhaps the medical condition itself, because of its progressively deteriorating aspect, imposes the necessity to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits sooner than anticipated, rather than later.  

Additionally, there are multiple scenarios which offer refinements to those already mentioned — for example, if one has already filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and in the meantime the Federal or Postal worker has been separated from Federal Service, then the ability to either file for Reconsideration (in the event of an initial denial) or appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (in the event of a second denial from the Office of Personnel Management) — as opposed to letting a Request for Reconsideration or an appeal to the MSPB lapse and begin the process all over again —  may be restricted and limited precisely because of the separation from service “in the meantime”.

Options and the ability to make the proper decision in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, should be made with the utmost of flexibility, if possible; but such flexibility and possible decision-making become more and more limited when one waits for external circumstances to intervene — i.e., the medical condition itself; the law; work circumstances; or a combination of all of the above.  Remember, most emergencies are self-made, and the destiny of one’s choices often depends upon thoughtful preparation at the beginning of a complex process.

Sincerely,

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 or CSRS, 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 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 or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esqire