FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: And Beyond…

Can you remember a time of health?  A time in the past when you were pain-free, able to have the cognitive acuity to focus, concentrate, and attend to the details of a task?  A time past is a reminder of the potentiality of a time-future.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the central point of the administrative process should always be kept in mind:  to reach a point in life where one can have a recuperative period of rest, restorative time, and multiple days beyond pain and ill health.  But just as the “gestalt” moment in a psychological awakening is not the end of the story, but merely a slice of life in a greater context of historicity, so the various events of the administrative process in preparing, formulating, filing, and finally obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not the end of the narrative for the Federal or Postal employee seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

There is life beyond; as such, obtaining an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is merely the beginning of the next step, and not the “end” of anything.  An approval from OPM is a goal worth achieving; but such a goal is merely an intermediate step in a greater cause:  of attaining a state of health, somewhat like the “former” self of yesteryears; of planning for a brighter future in a second vocation; and to be able to enjoy one’s family, friends, and the circle of those closest and most important:  those who have been loyal, even when loyalty revealed a disappointment in those whom you depended upon, and thought you could depend upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Returning to the Boredom of Health

Everyone desires to attain a path of certainties, where life has a rhythm of regularity, predictability and consistency.  We often complain of a life of boredom, but there is a distinction to be made between “being bored” and having what some would consider a “boring existence”.

One need only encounter a life-threatening emergency, or a crisis impacting self, family members or friends — or a serious medical condition.  Then, one yearns for those “boring” days of yore, when living a daily existence of merely being pain-free, when one could bend, reach, turn, twist, pick up a cup of coffee — without a thought of invasive and excruciating pain; of a time when focusing upon a task did not require one’s utmost energy and stamina; where the intrusion of nightmares, anxiety and panic attacks did not paralyze one’s totality of being.  Living a boring life for those encountering the “excitement” of a medical condition, as opposed to “being bored”, found a consistency of a rhythm of certainty.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is the goal of the Federal or Postal employee to enter into a period of a recuperative universe, in order to get back to the days of a boring existence.  Boredom is not necessarily a negative thing; indeed, when one is beset with a medical condition which prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, the very notion that one’s prior existence of health was somehow less than exciting, is a puzzle to those who have lost their health.

Federal Disability Retirement is a chance to attain the boring life of yore; preparing properly the application for submission; formulating it effectively; and filing it to attain the goal of returning to that former self, is a consideration worth making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Life after Disability Retirement

The focus upon the “now”, of course, can not be avoided; for the “now” constitutes the present circumstances, the period of preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; where the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; where the severity, chronicity and extent of the persistent pain, the overwhelming psychiatric infringement upon one’s ability to focus, concentrate, etc.; or where the ability to have the sustained stamina and daily energy has been depleted to such an experiential phenomena that the very “now” is all that one can focus upon.

There is, however, indeed a life after Federal Disability Retirement, and as much of the administrative process of obtaining the benefit is a long and arduous waiting period, it is beneficial to consider what will happen, what one will do, can do, etc., once an approval is obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Remember, in being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, one can go out and earn up to 80% of what one’s former salary pays currently.

Further, this is not OWCP — where, if one is receiving temporary total disability compensation, you cannot work at all (there are some minor exceptions under FECA/OWCP rules, such as if you were working at another part-time position of a different nature prior to the accepted date of injury, you may be allowed to continue to work that “other” job, etc.).  Nor is this SSDI, where there is a severe cap on the limit of what one may earn (although, if one is getting FERS Disability Retirement concurrently with SSDI, then there is an offset between the two).

The period of waiting can be a fertile time of preparation for life after an approval.  Or, such future plans can be placed on temporary hold for purposes of using the time for recuperative rest.  In any event, the “now” is merely a passing time of fleeting moments, as a cherry blossom withering in the early morning dew as the sun begins to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: 80% Rule

Around this time of year, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sends out their Disability Earnings Survey to all Federal and Postal Disability Retirement Annuitants, to determine what earned income was obtained by the Federal or Postal Annuitant.  It is a simple form and should be completed and returned, and will not impact one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit so long as one has remained under the 80% cap.

Now, as to determining how the Office of Personnel Management determines what is the “true” 80% cap, is another matter.  There have been wide discrepancies between OPM’s determination and the Federal or Postal annuitant’s assertion as to what the “current pay” of a former position is, or should be.  That is entirely a different area of law which the undersigned writer does not become involved in.

However, the wisest thing to do, unless one desires to become engaged in a continuing, protracted battle with the Office of Personnel Management, is to calculate the amount as conservatively as possible, and to take the lower amount and remain well under 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.  While this is sometimes difficult, remember that the benefits of retaining one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity — of continuing Health Insurance Benefits, to name one — makes it worthwhile.  For, ultimately, one is potentially making 120% of what one was making before (80% of what one’s former position currently pays, plus the 40% of annuity).

Stay close to making 100%, if possible, and that will avoid future headaches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Planning Ahead for a Better Future

Ultimately, when the time comes for a Federal or Postal employee to begin to think about preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is both the beginning of a long administrative process, as well as the endpoint of a long period of reflection (hopefully), preparation (a necessity), and enduring of a medical condition (which has eventually transitioned into a state of chronic medical condition or a progressively deteriorating condition, but in any event one which has lasted or will last a minimum of 12 months, which is the legal requirement under FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement).

Thus, the point of the decision is a critical juncture in a Federal or Postal worker’s life, precisely because it marks both the end of a productive career, as well as a beginning of a process.  However, just to think in terms of the two points of the process — the end of a career and the beginning of a long administrative process — would be to fail to look beyond the obtaining of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For, the truth of the matter is that there is “life beyond” obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, and indeed, there is an incentive for a former Federal or Postal worker who is receiving a Federal Disability Retirement annuity to become productive in another capacity, in the private sector.  The next stage of life is often the more critical period of one’s life.  Reflection on that “next stage” is something worthwhile to think about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Life Changes

Major life changes occur at some point for everyone —  new births; deaths; marriage; major illnesses.  The trauma of a life-changing event such as a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is further exacerbated because of the financial impact that such a life-event can have upon a Federal or Postal employee.

While Federal Disability Retirement benefits do not fully make up for the loss of income (for FERS employees, it pays 60 percent of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years the first year, and 40% every year thereafter until age 62, at which point it gets converted and recalculated to regular retirement; while the Federal disability retirement calculation for CSRS employees is slightly more complex), it is at the very least a point of security — a base amount of income in which one can rely upon.

This is important, because with a major life-changing event, it is essential to focus one’s energies upon resolving, attacking, or otherwise handling that life-event, and not have the worries or distractions which take one’s energies away from focusing upon the one life-changing event.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Changes & Transition

Change is a necessary part of life; indeed, this is a time of change for many, as schools end, young men and women graduate from college; people often get married in the months of spring & early summer, etc.

As one grows older, and one becomes more “entrenched” in one’s career, finances, and daily routine & family life, “change” becomes a greater hardship.  Indeed, for those filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is precisely “change” which is the hardest aspect of the entire process of transition.

For, the contemplation of filing for Federal Disability Retirement means the formal beginning of the transition of one type of daily living, with a transformation into a completely different set of paradigms of daily life.

This is often the hardest part of the entire process.  It is hard enough financially and medically to deal with many of the changes.  One way in which to deal with such changes and the difficult period of transition, is to take an affirmative view of things when beginning the process of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS — to begin the process on your own terms, by speaking with an attorney for guidance and advice, and by refusing to allow circumstances under the control of others — especially your own agency — to dictate the time, terms, and conditions of this major life change.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire