Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Flux

Life must of necessity involve change; otherwise, the definition of its corollary occurs, or at a minimum, a deadened spirit.  But the tripartite self-contradiction of life, death, and the security of habituated changelessness entraps us all: In youth, the excitement of constant flux energizes; in later life, the unwelcome changes and interruption of daily routine leads to turmoil; yet, as the negation of the mundane equals the non-existence of youthful energy, so the denial of needed change must of necessity result in a deadened soul.

It is, of course, a concept which is often associated with Heraclitus, who proposed that all is change, and inevitably so, as we cannot ever step twice into the same river.  Parmenides, on the other hand, introduced the contrary idea, that change is impossible and merely illusory.  Subsequent philosophers have melded the two, and compromised the bifurcated extremes, somewhat akin to the composite yin-yang embracing of the opposing forces of life.  But as resistance to change implies change itself, so surrender to flux may also indicate loss of will.

For Federal and Postal employees who begin to suffer from a medical condition, such that the impact from the medical turmoil must of necessity dictate some needed changes in one’s life, so the natural instinct to resist the flux of one’s career is a natural reaction.  But for the Federal and Postal employee who ignores the need for change, failure to foresee will ultimately result in changes being made by external forces, and not necessarily by choice.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is something that must be proven by the Federal or Postal employee who becomes a Federal Disability Retirement applicant.  It must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence; it must be affirmatively shown to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

When a medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the temptation is to first see the world as Parmenides did, and to resist change; but the reality is that change has always been in the air, and the metaphorical river to which Heraclitus referred has been eternally running through the peaks and valleys of life, quietly and without our realizing it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Life at the Apex

Life is on a spectrum variable; instead, we tend to view it as a linear progression, as one from birth to youth, middle to old age; death as the ultimate outcome.  The content of life is therefore arranged based upon this organic paradigm projecting towards an apex, then a steady decline thereafter.  Thus are one’s education and school days fashioned, where the traditional pathway is from high school to college, from college to graduate school, medical school, law school, etc., and then onto a career.

A second opportunity to be useful in life with a second career or vocation

Federal Disability Retirement is all about having a second opportunity to be useful and productive with another career or vocation

Whether this linear application of life contains an inherent evolutionary advantage for survivability remains a question mark; the fact is, while lives are experienced along the parallel pathways within the greater population, the more relevant question is the Kantian one: Is this a reflection of reality, or have we created another category of an imposed preconception by which we live? One often hears about having reached the “apex of life”; if that proposition is accepted, then everything beyond will merely be a downward degeneration.

For individuals who suffer from a medical condition, it is often whispered of past times of a better life, as if resignation to fate justifies remorse and regret.  For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, should always be entertained.

Such a critical juncture in the life of a Federal or Postal employee cannot be ignored. Yet, whether the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application constitutes an admission of progressive decline after an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, is entirely up to the Federal or Postal Worker who takes such a step.  Medical conditions often necessitate change; but change can be seen as a spectrum variable, and not as an inevitable decline on a linear path.

Happiness, joy, fulfillment and accomplishment; they can be charted on a graph of ups and downs, and sometimes the “ups” can occur long after the apex of one’s linear life, and embrace the Federal or Postal employee long after one has left behind the bureaucratic morass of the Federal government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Pathway out of an Untenable Situation

The sensation of drowning is one which horrifies most individuals; everyone has experienced an event involving being submerged in a body of water, and feeling helpless and without control of surrounding circumstances.  It is precisely that sensation of loss of control — where one’s legs cannot locate a foundation upon which to escape; where the steadiness of firm ground is not there to provide the necessary support; and where the body of water continues to overwhelm, surround, and ultimately overtake; the horror of drowning is thus the proverbial metaphor for trials which one faces in life.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a sudden onset of a medical condition, or from one which has shown to be a chronic condition which slowly, progressively, and intractably deteriorates one’s physical and/or cognitive functions, the phenomena of drowning as an analogy for one’s experiential encounter with life’s difficulties will not be a stranger.

In such circumstances, one is told to “remain calm”, to engage in physical maneuvers in order to keep afloat, etc. — but to panic is the death knell in such situations.  Such advice is easily stated in the calm of one’s life; when one is in the midst of such circumstances, such sage advice is abandoned for the immediacy of reactionary decisions.  However, if an available option is presented to allow for a solution to an exigent circumstance, it would be a natural next step to accept the “other” proverbial, metaphorically oft-used word-picture:  the life flotation device.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered for all Federal and Postal employees for the purpose of providing a base annuity for those Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is there to provide that foundation for the Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing that drowning sensation within the Federal sector.

Consider it a life-saving flotation device — one which may provide the fertility of the earth in an environment filled with overwhelming circumstances of life’s unexpected encounters — not involving merely the metaphor of water, but all of the sharks which surround us, as well.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Career-ending Event

One often reads and hears about a traumatic injury which suddenly and unpredictably ends the career of a certain sports figure.  Such stories evoke sentiments of empathy, for the potential which was never entirely fulfilled, and for the personal tragedy which befalls the individual, the family, and those who admired the talent which failed to reveal its fullness.  

But in everyday life, such tragedies occur in less spectacular ways; perhaps not as sudden and unexpected incidents or injuries as to bifurcate between the day before and the day after; rather, through a chronicity of time, over months and years of struggling, until a day comes when one must admit to one’s self that the chosen career-path must be reevaluated.  

The trauma of the life-changing event is no less significant to the Federal or Postal Worker than to a star NBA, NFL or NHL player.  For the Federal or Postal worker who has worked diligently, if not quietly and unassumingly, in the chosen career path — a recognition that his or her medical condition will no longer allow continuation in the vocation, has the identical reverberations as those more notably identified, in terms of financial, economic, personal and professional significance, relevance and impact.  

In fact, sometimes even more so — because one never witnesses the long and arduous struggle for the months and years prior to making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, through the “quiet years” of using Sick Leave sparingly; of trying to maintain a semblance of competence and work-completion in the face of medical conditions which are never told, never spoken of, and never acknowledged.  

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel management, is tantamount to that “traumatic injury”; it’s just that such an event is rarely, if ever, written about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Embracing Progress toward Better Conditions

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is indeed based upon a progressive paradigm.  It not only recognizes that an individual may be disabled from a particular kind of job; but, moreover, it allows and encourages the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future, and to seek a way of starting a new vocation in a different field, without penalizing the former Federal or Postal employee by taking away the Federal disability annuity.

There are maximum limits to the paradigm — such as the ceiling of earning up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays. But to be able to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, while at the same time retaining the ability to continue to receive the disability annuity, is far different than the paradigm presented under SSDI or OWCP.

Further, because there is a recognition that one’s medical disability is narrowly construed to one’s Federal or Postal position, or any similar job, the restrictions placed upon the “type” of job a Federal or Postal annuitant may seek, is fairly liberally defined.  Yes, both types of positions should not require the identical physical demands if such demands impact the same anatomical basis upon which one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits were approved for; but, even in such circumstances, one has the right to argue that the extent of repetitive work, if qualitatively differentiated, may allow for a similar position in the private sector.

Compare that to OWCP, where one cannot work at any other job while receiving temporary total disability benefits from the Department of Labor.  Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future; and that, in and of itself, is worth its weight in gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Progressive Paradigm

Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement is one of the most progressive paradigms designed — for, as a compensatory program, it not only allows for, but encourages, the Federal or Postal worker to become a self-paying entity by working at another job, a new vocation, a different career, etc, after being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, thereby allocating taxes in order to pay for the annuity itself.

The fact that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may sometimes and randomly inquire as to the continuing disability status of the (former) Federal or Postal employee, or require an annual check upon the previous year’s income earnings in order to determine if the individual has exceeded the allowable ceiling of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, is a fairly easy threshold to meet.

Because the focus is upon the particular kind of job which the Federal or Postal employee had previously engaged in, it is natural that any job which the (former) Federal or Postal employee would seek and obtain, would have some qualitative and substantive differences from the Federal or Postal job.

At the same time, however, the skills which the Federal or Postal worker obtained and applied while working for the Federal government, need not be completely abandoned.  There just needs to be a medical justification as to why the individual is able to work in a private-sector job X, as opposed to the Federal job from which he or she medically retired from.

Often, it is a good idea to get the green light from one’s treating doctor, before accepting the private sector job, which would then establish the medical distinctions necessary to justify and answer any future OPM inquiry.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled FERS & CSRS Workers: Federal and Postal Employees

With the benefit available to Federal and Postal employees, of a Federal Disability Retirement under either FERS or CSRS, there is often a perception on the part of the non-Federal Sector public, that Federal and Postal employees have benefits which are extravagant.  In these times of economic turmoil, with the Federal deficit exploding exponentially, one might wonder about a benefit which pays an annuity for not being able to work at a specific type of job, yet encourages people to become productive members of society in some other job. 

Yet, in this snowstorm which has just hit the East coast, I see the Postal delivery vehicles making their way through the residential neighborhoods, and Federal Workers going into work.  Federal and Postal workers are the most dedicated workers I have come across.  To a person, each Federal and Postal employee I have represented to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, never wanted to file for or become eligible for the benefit.  They would rather have worked in their career and choice of Federal or Postal job.  But because they suffered from a medical condition such that they could no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of the job, they had to file.  It is a benefit well worth the cost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The 80% Rule

When a Federal or Postal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and obtains an approval from the Office of Personnel Management, under FERS he or she will receive 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay, then 40% every year thereafter until age 62, at which point the disability annuity is recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including those years that the disability retirement annuitant has been on Federal Disability Retirement.  Thereafter, the now “former” Federal or Postal employee has the capability to work at another, private-sector job, and earn up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal job currently pays, on top of the disability annuity that one is receiving.

While some may wonder whether this is a “fair” benefit, especially in these trying economic times, it might be wiser to consider whether or not it is prudent to consider the economic incentives inherent in such a system.  For, by allowing for the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement annuitant to go out and attempt to earn income in another, different kind of job, it allows for continuing productivity, payment of taxes and FICA back into the “system”, as opposed to limiting the individual to merely receiving a government benefit. As all of “economics” is ultimately based upon incentives to the working population in order to encourage a system of the highest extent of productivity, this system creates an economic incentive to those who are merely disabled from performing a certain kind of job.  They can continue to remain productive — just in a different kind of job from the one in which he or she is disabled.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Labor Day Weekend and the Federal Employee

Labor Day is traditionally viewed as the end of summer, the entrance back into the routine of the work world, where the lazy days of camping, spending additional time with one’s family; of the soft, lapping sounds of waves rolling as one attempts to squeeze the last remaining hours of leisure and tropical enjoyment.  Then, on to the rushing days of work, and more work.  It is, moreover, a celebration of the laboring exercise of a productive economy — one which has sputtered and stalled in the last two years.  

For the Federal or Postal worker who has filed, or is contemplating filing, for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the celebration of Labor Day comes whenever there is the recognition and acknowledgement that one can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  At that point of recognition, the time to plan for a secured future comes into play.  The days of full labor and productivity may be coming to an end; but that does not mean that one cannot go out and be productive in some non-Federal, non-Postal capacity.

Remember that Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS does not mean that you cannot work at any other job, ever.  Indeed, the opposite is true.  You may, after securing your Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, go out and get another job in the private sector, and make up to 80% of what your former Federal or Postal position currently pays.  While it may be difficult to do that in this tough economy, brighter days are hopefully ahead, and the time to begin preparing for that brighter future is now.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The Initial Step Is the Most Difficult

I find that the initial step in filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the most difficult step for people to take.  It is often a psychological block.  I have spoken on this issue in the past.  For a Federal or Postal worker, especially in these constrained economic times where the job market outside of the Federal Sector appears restrictive, at best, the pressure of one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s job, results in an anxiousness when it comes to filing for federal disability retirement under FERS or CSRS.  Certainly, it is a significant pay cut.  Certainly, it is a worry that — although one may be able to make up to 80% of what one’s (former) Federal salary currently pays — it may be that the private sector may not offer the opportunities to make up the difference in the pay cut.  Yet, the choices are often stark and untenable; for, at some point, it becomes clear that one’s medical conditions prevents one from performing the essential elements of the job. 

As such, the only and best choice is to move forward:  in fact, even in this economy, creativity will be rewarded.  Private companies actually find independent contractors who carry his or her own health insurance a plus; part-time work is offered more readily in a bad economy precisely because it allows for companies to obtain necessary work and skills without having to pay the “extra” benefits.  The initial step is the most difficult; after stepping beyond the difficulty, Federal and Postal workers who obtain disability retirement benefits find that there is a different and better future — even in this economy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire