Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Banners and Slogans

It is indicative of a society, its values and ethical underpinnings, reflected in accepted public slogans and banners.  Habits are formed by repetitive acts performed first with some thought, then subsequently on automatic pilot.

Each of us walks around with a complex web of intricate belief systems developed over many years; rarely can we penetrate beyond the veil of slogans and banners, for they make up the majority of our consciousness.  That is why it is rarely fruitful to engage in debate; our preset ideas are intractable and unable to be altered; we remain who we are, what we believe, and why we stand for things as they are.

When was the last time you witnessed a debate or discussion resulting in the admission of one or the other of the participants with a declaration of a changed outlook?  To hold fast to an opinion is somehow a virtue, even if one is frightfully wrong.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may necessitate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the obstacle preventing one from initiating the necessary steps will often be the very psychological barrier which is deemed to be a virtue.

Hard work and sacrifice at the expense of one’s health is held up to be a virtue to applaud; but at some point, such an intractable outlook becomes merely nothing more than stubbornness, and even the grandest slogan of bureaucratic thoughtlessness would admit that stubbornness is not an attractive character trait to retain.  At some point, the world of sloganeering and banners tooted about the “mission of the agency” must be overcome with the self-understanding that one’s mental and physical health is paramount; otherwise, automatic piloting will negate the need for human control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a necessary component for self-preservation for those Federal and Postal employees who are suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job.

Setting aside the societal banners and slogans which impede good judgment may be the first step in the process, and is often the greatest obstacle to overcome.  For, one’s education is often comprised of being soiled with the residues of social experimentation, and in that sense, we are mere guinea pigs in service to others.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Oh, but That Youthful Sense of Invincibility

In the beginning, that sense of potentiality was seemingly endless; while the actual constraints, whether based upon one’s own educational or intellectual limitations, or perhaps that proverbial glass ceiling of nepotism, favoritism, or exclusivity of previously-formed bonds and relationships; but ignorance can indeed be blissful, and youthful vigor and enthusiasm makes up for that lack of reality-based experience which transforms us all into crusty old men of cynical negations floating in a universe of perverse ill-will.

The world was full of hope and opportunity, and nothing could stop that bundle of positive energy, naive anticipation, and future-oriented and exhaustive optimism. Even health was of no concern.  Disabilities?  Nary a thought.  Inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?  Not to be considered, for youthful vigor and unbounded energy could not contain the late hours and extra, unpaid dedication reflecting loyalty and meticulousness of purpose.

But at some point the reality of the human condition prevails upon us all, and the limitations of the human body, the frailty of one’s psyche after years of abuse, deliberate attacks and unfettered stresses — they take their toll. Time marches unperturbed, but the response of the human body, mind and soul is one of deterioration and decay.

Did that youth consider what benefits were part of the compensation package? Not initially. But later, Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, can become an important discovery for those who are beset with a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

It applies to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, and is ultimately decided upon by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  While such considerations may not have been thought of in one’s youth, such naive indiscretions are fortunately forgivable, and despite such thoughtlessness, the availability remains for all Federal and Postal employees to consider the option of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Price One Pays

One hears the familiar refrain:  trying to “game” the system; taking handouts; being on the government’s dole; and multiple similar allegations and assumptions.  Perhaps there are some who receive benefits which may be considered welfare-type compensation; and, maybe there are those who attempt to obtain something for nothing — or very little.  But one must be firm in making the conceptual distinction between those “others” and Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

First, the Federal and Postal employee works — and works hard and long hours.  Second, Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package for the Federal or Postal employee.  Third, Federal Disability Retirement pays a pittance in comparison with the compensatory standard of living which the Federal or Postal employee has been used to, and no sane person would take a voluntary reduction of one’s livelihood merely to get on the “dole”.  Fourth, many — if not most — of those who receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits pay back into the system, by getting a part-time or full-time job in another vocation, thereby paying taxes, FICA, etc.  And Fifth, it is the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant who is the one who pays the price — by having endured the repetitive work to such an extent that he or she has become debilitated; or withstood the abusive mental and physical requirements of one’s position which ultimately necessitated the drastic reduction in pay and forced to take a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is the one who must pay the price — the Federal and Postal employee — who should be complaining; those who stand on the sidelines merely utter words.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The 80% Rule

I recently wrote an article on FedSmith.com concerning the legal process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and a reader posted a comment implying and suggesting a lack of understanding about a benefit which would allow for payment of 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years, and in addition, to allow for that annuitant to make up to 80% of what the former federal position currently pays.

I beg to differ. The purpose of allowing an annuitant to potentially go out and earn additional compensation in the private sector are multi-fold: it allows for an individual to remain productive; he or she continues to contribute in the workforce and, as a consequence, pays taxes, FICA, etc.; the amount of 40% (after the first year) is an incentive to go out and do something else. Further, Federal Disability Retirement benefits are part of a compensation package offered to a Federal or Postal employee — it is part of the total employment package, and there is certainly nothing wrong with taking advantage of that employment benefit if and when the need arises. The truth is that most people don’t get anywhere near the 80% mark, but hover closer to the 40 – 50% mark, and together with the disability annuity, are able to make a decent living. All in all, the 80% rule is a smart and thoughtful incentive for those who are disabled.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire