Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Mourning for Things We Never Knew

We often reminisce for things we never knew, but imagined we once had or hoped to have; of small towns and neighborhoods where caring concern characterized a sense of community and belonging; or perhaps it was from our remembrances, formed and solidified from old television shows we grew up with, when once innocence of times of yore remained with us to form dreams of a brighter future.

Health and monotony tends to have a similar effect. The former, because we take it for granted; and the latter, because we mistakenly believe that crisis equals excitement, when in fact security of daily living without eruptions of emergency management is the quietude which most of us seek, though we fail to appreciate it.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, the times of yore when a life without pain is barely remembered, and where the lingering effects of an extensive medication regimen was once comprised of a single multivitamin pill, the thought of wanting to return to a “time prior to” is often at the forefront of daily reminiscences, and constitutes the limited hope for the future.

At some point, however, as medical conditions continue to deteriorate, and as the surgical interventions, palliative medical procedures and list of countermanding medication regimens increase in volume and expand in extent, it becomes clear that the impact upon one’s attempt to maintain an appearance of normalcy can no longer be tolerated.

When the Federal or Postal employee’s medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, it is time to consider preparing the steps to formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Such a Federal Disability Retirement application must be ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and because the waiting process can be quite lengthy, the initial steps should be contemplated fairly early in the recognition of medical condition-to-impact upon one’s job.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit there for Federal employees under either FERS or CSRS, and is a compensatory system enacted precisely for those Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform one’s job.

Longing for a time once remembered is an activity of comforting reminiscence; the reality of the present, however, awakens us from the slumber of such daydreams of an era once blinking on the horizon of a time long passed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Insidious Tragedy

Progressively deteriorating medical conditions comprise a category of tragedies which are especially insidious.

Automobile accidents; natural disasters; even airline catastrophes; such dramatic events, while shocking and tragically devastating, seem to encompass calamities of epic proportions equal to the turmoil of modern times.  But the quiet tragedies which are unheard of — the insidious nature of chronic pain, debilitating migraine headaches, overwhelming Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks which paralyze one’s ability to engage in employment in a minimally functional manner; progressively degenerative spinal diseases; diffuse pain through Fibromyalgia; and similarly such “quiet” calamities, are especially insidious because, more often than not, there is no proportional visual confirmation of the suffering and tragedy.

Such private calamities are what must be adequately conveyed to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management when preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application.

When a “public” catastrophic event occurs, people tend to search for the picture which matches and confirms the described disaster; but when no such visual confirmation is available, there is often a suspicion that the event itself never occurred.  It is this visual-centered universe which makes for the insidious nature of chronic pain — for how can one confirm the latter?  What picture would provide the wanted affirmation?  It is always the quietude of a private catastrophe which is exponentially magnified in its tragic components — for lack of sympathy, devaluation of empathy, and a question as to the sincerity of the one who suffers.

That is precisely what must be overcome in preparing, formulating and filing for FERS or CSRS Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Weeds in Our Lives

Weeds are irritants.  Ecologically, they contain erosion and the loss of soil; but in the suburban paradigm of our lives, they represent the unruliness in an otherwise pristine and antiseptic face-lift of our artificial lives.

Weeds also represent an unwanted intrusion into the image we create; further, they have deep roots, and even if torn out and discarded, have the ability to regenerate.  In that metaphorical vein, they stand for the very things which we desire to uproot, but continue to cling to, despite our best efforts.

In considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal worker will often cling to the weeds which have overwhelmed one’s life.  Once, perhaps, in years gone by, such weeds may have been the beautiful flowers one had planted and tended to with affection and care; but the weeds have now invaded and enveloped the areas which once were the showpiece of one’s life.

The acknowledgement itself may be the most difficult; to admit that one’s career, job, vocation, etc., with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service is now the weed which must be uprooted and discarded, is often the most trying and difficult of decisions to make.  But like the weed with the vast and endless root system beneath the terrain of appearance, merely breaking off the stem will not solve the problem.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Supervisors, Performance, and Other Matters

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS (although the latter is increasingly becoming a rarer animal, almost to the point of extinction, and has been recently annotated on the “endangered species” list), the concern of many Federal and Postal employees often centers around past performance reviews (a history of “outstanding” performance, etc.), the potential statements of the Supervisor on an SF 3112B, and similar issues.

What the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits fails to understand, is that the reason why he or she has reached that critical juncture where Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, is tied directly to that long and commendable history of outstanding performance.

To put it bluntly, the Federal or Postal employee who has done his or her job so well over the years, has killed him/herself in doing it.  That is why the medical condition has not improved; that is why the progressively deteriorating process, whether of a physical nature or of a psychiatric bent, has reached its critical mass, and one cannot go on in the same manner, any longer.

It has come to a point of a necessity to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It matters not what one’s history is; if one cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then it is time to file; regardless of what one’s performance history is, or what one’s Supervisor’ Statement may potentially reflect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Those “Second-Class” Medical Conditions

We all know what the “Second-Class” medical conditions are:  Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diffuse Pain, Chemical Sensitivity issues, etc.  To some extent, such medical conditions have always been a paradigm of a society — at one time, one could argue that all psychiatric conditions were treated in a similar manner:  accepted at some level as a medical condition, but stigmatized as somehow being less than legitimate.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is patently obvious that the Office of Personnel Management treats certain medical conditions as “second-class” conditions.  They often deny such cases at the initial stage of the process, and unless you point out a compendium of established case-law authorities, OPM will often get away with their groundless assertions.

Words matter, and which words and arguments are chosen to rebut the Office of Personnel Management matters much in a Federal Disability Retirement case.  Such medical conditions are not second-class medical conditions, and OPM should not be allowed to treat them as such.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Which Medical Conditions to List II

If you list all of the medical conditions you suffer from on the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) in filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, then you take the risk that the Office of Personnel Management may approve your disability retirement application based upon a condition which is only marginally serious (which can lead to some future problems, if OPM requests that you respond to an OPM Medical Questionnaire, inquiring about your current status and your disability).  On the other hand, if you fail to mention a medical condition, and you file your Federal Disability Retirement application, once you are assigned a CSA Number, you are precluded from amending or adding to the list of medical conditions described in your Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  Thus, discretionary decisions must be made.  You must strike a proper balance between listing the major medical conditions, and deciding which medical conditions truly impact your ability/inability to perform the essential elements of your job, and discern which conditions and symptoms are likely to remain chronic, or continue to deteriorate.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire