FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Differences

The weather comes upon us; as a cloudy day dominates, so a sense of darkness and foreboding can impact one’s emotional life; some days are better than others.

In the virtual world of our antiseptic lives, surrounded by such advancement of technology which separates and bifurcates; we think that we are different from other species, and indeed, a comparative analysis can be a potent and foundational argument in establishing the superiority of the human animal, as in, “Can X do Y?” “Can a chimpanzee sketch a rough draft of an architectural phenomenon like the Roman Colosseum?” (Then again, who among us could do that?)  Some would say that the titular character in Camus’ classic novel, The Stranger, Meursault, has it “right” when he attempts to ascribe blame to the heat of the day, the brightness of the sunlight, for his acts if human degeneracy.  Such an explanation is as valid as any that one can give for justifying the murder of another.

Prolonged stress can affect performance levels on jobs that require high levels of focus and concentration

Prolonged stress can affect performance levels on jobs that require high levels of focus and concentration

We tend to desire an intellectualization of our actions which somehow differentiates us from “others”, when in fact the environment impacts us no matter the extent of engagement in placing artificial walls around ourselves.

Medical conditions have a tendency to bring out the humanness in us.  This is because, when a medical condition impacts our lives, it is a final recognition that an invasive malignancy has been able to penetrate the artificial walls we have so carefully constructed, and it reminds us of our fragile, organic essence.  For Federal and Postal Workers who have been impacted by medical conditions, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to continue in one’s chosen vocation, an admission of vulnerability and mortality comes to the fore. To counter this, a change of venue is often needed, and is the required prescription in order to push against the fear and loathing which accompanies such an admission.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is often the wisest step which the Federal or Postal employee can do.  There are many stories of Federal and Postal Workers who have obtained Federal Disability Retirement benefits, who reflect back and declare that it was the smartest move of their collective lives; but then, when we are stuck in the rut of our antiseptic lives, it is often the most comfortable place to remain, and so we fight against our own self-interest.

And, indeed, in the end, that is all that the prosecutor was seeking for from Meursault — just a word, a deed, a symbol — that he was at least somewhat remorseful.  But Camus would have none of that for his character; only the stark and naked honesty, that he was no different from the surroundings of nature which enveloped him on that fateful day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Discretionary Determinations

Reviewing medical documentation often involves a discretionary determination in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Relevant documentation should be filed as an attachment in support of a Federal Disability Retirement application; sometimes, medical reports, notes and records which are from specialists or referral doctors, contain information which is helpful, irrelevant, or detrimental to an application, and determinations as to whether to file it or not is a matter of discretion.  

It is the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is entitled and eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Meeting the criteria of eligibility is a matter of some latitude; determining what evidence to include involves a certain amount of discretion; in either case, one must affirmatively prove one’s case.  

Thus, FMLA paperwork previously completed by the doctor may have addressed a particular issue for a specific timeframe; OWCP forms previously filled out by the doctor may pertain more to a particular time-period or for the issue of causation, etc.  In the totality of the picture of one’s history of medical conditions, one must utilize a discretionary sense of wisdom in determining which medical evidence will be helpful, and which may potentially hinder.  It is never an exact science; but then, science itself is no longer an exacting endeavor.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Difficulty of Making the Decision

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, it is often the mental act of deciding to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits which is the most difficult to make.  

For, while the actual mechanics of the entire process — of obtaining an attorney (if that has been decided), gathering the necessary medical narratives and supporting documentation; of facing the harsh reality of writing the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (following the format of Standard Form 3112A) and reading about the impact of one’s medical conditions and the direct nexus to one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job — of actually outlining and delineating the symptomatologies resulting from the singular or multiple diagnosed medical conditions; of approaching and having the supervisor complete a Supervisor’s Statement; of essentially declaring to the Agency that you are no longer capable or able to perform one or more of the essential elements of the job, thereby confirming what many at the Agency probably already suspected — all of these “mechanical” aspects of the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, while difficult, pale in comparison to the singular act which propels and initiates the entire process:  that of deciding to move forward.  For, as an old proverb states:  To lift a finger without thought is merely an act; to move with thought only a conscious event; to think, to plan, and then to engage in action, is the essence of man’s strength.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: A Thoughtful Paradigm

Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is a well-thought out paradigm of benefits for two primary reasons:  (1)  First, because it allows for a base annuity for those productive workers who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, and allows the Federal or Postal Worker who is disabled to have a period of time in which to recuperate and tend to the medical needs in order to regain his or her strength, energy, abilities, etc. — physical, emotional, cognitive or otherwise; and (2) Second, because it allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to become a productive member of society in a different, “other” job.  

While many may be concerned that, in this regressive economy, the prospect of obtaining another job may be severely limited, such an approach is short-sighted.  The economy will rebound; opportunities will arise as various economic sectors adjust to changing circumstances; and during the entire process, the Federal or Postal Worker who is on Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management will be able to receive a base annuity in order to recuperate from the medical condition.  

All said, the alternative prior to the Federal Disability Retirement benefit becoming law was bleak and short-sighted:  to terminate the unproductive Federal or Postal employee, and let him or her go out to deal with loss of job, loss of income, loss of medical insurance — on top of the medical condition which forced the Federal or Postal Worker out in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Preparations

In a perfect world, each of us would make preparations to confront, engage in, and lay the foundations necessary for dealing in life’s eventualities, whether such events constitute emergencies, circumstances both foreseen and unforeseen; or everyday events which are commonplace but necessary “duties” which have to be undertaken, dealt with, and completed.  For much of what we fail to prepare for, it is often an avoidance issue.  

In thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the fact that one must confront and acknowledge the issue is something which most Federal and Postal employees — understandably — do not want to do.  This is because, for anyone filing with the Office of Personnel Management, an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must entail three (3) essential concepts which must be recognized:  First, that one has a medical condition of a severity, such that it has or will last at least twelve months.  Second, that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  And third — but just as important — that the very process itself, in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, is a process which contains pitfalls, potential setbacks, and the possibility of disapproval, as well as a long and arduous waiting period. This is because one is dealing with a Federal Agency.  But that we could prepare for this eventuality; it remains, unfortunately, one of life’s challenges, and one which most Federal and Postal employees attempt to avoid, but one which is a benefit worth fighting for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire