OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Hearty Laughter

Laughter is therapeutic; it is an expression, often spontaneous, responding to an event, a circumstance, a joke; sometimes, merely upon meeting an old friend and becoming flooded with reminiscences of mirthful times long ago.

It is a response of physical, emotional and mental totality; the body reverberates with joy and the echoes emanating from deep within; the flood of emotions are released; the mind becomes relaxed and unguarded.  Often, however, it is the eyes which are most telling.  Listen to a person laughing, and you may be fooled; watch a person’s eyes as he laughs, and it may reveal a dissonance which contradicts and raises suspicions.  For, laughter can also be the veil which attempts to conceal.

Similarly, in this economy of heartless efficiency, the Federal and Postal worker who must daily attempt to work through one’s pain or psychiatric condition in order to continue to work, despite suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a point where the capacity to present one’s self contradicts the reality of what is actually occurring.

Most Federal and Postal workers are such dedicated workers that they continue to work through a progressively deteriorating medical condition to one’s ultimate detriment.  At some point, the dissonance and contradiction will reveal itself; and it is at such a crisis point when the Federal and Postal Worker comes to realize that Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be considered.

Whether one should wait until that flashpoint arrives is an individual matter.  But like the hearty laughter emanating from the deep chasms of a person whose eyes reveal pain and sadness, the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to put on a brave face each day, knows that as all the world is a stage, the actors must one day face the reality of the world in which we live.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Conceptual Clarifications of Duties

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is helpful to make an initial conceptual distinction between the type of positional duties which one performs for the Federal Service — whether sedentary and administrative; whether it involves the necessity of on-demand travel or deployment; whether the particular medical condition requires special medical care or technology and apparatus which is not available upon travel or deployment; how physical; weight lifting requirements; how repetitive; whether driving is required; whether and to what extent it is cognitive-intensive; and multiple other considerations.

Such bifurcation and conceptual distinctions are important for purposes of informally categorizing a descriptive analysis for correspondence of duties-to-medical-conditions.  Thus, when the time comes to formulate the narrative portion of one’s application for Federal Disability Retirement, it becomes easier to effectively delineate the impact of one’s medical conditions upon one’s positional duties.

It is one thing to experience a medical condition; it is quite another to effectively describe the medical condition, utilizing the proper and accurate adjectives and descriptive word-pictures to a third party; and it is even further another matter to describe one’s medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  To perform the intellectual exercise of mentally delineating a list of one’s positional duties in one column; a list of symptomatologies in a separate column; a correspondence of impact between the columns (but remember, it should never be simply a one-to-one correspondence,and cross-overs and multiple overlays reflect the “real world” of medical conditions and their impact upon one’s positional duties), is a helpful exercise in the presentation of the “final product” to the Office of Personnel Management.

In preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to “think through” the administrative process, in order to exponentially increase the chances of success at each stage of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Happy New Year

For many people, celebrating the “New Year” often encapsulates a parallel time of reflection, of resolutions for change and improvement, etc.  For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, this is a good time to take a personal inventory of one’s future goals, assessing the viability of continuation in one’s position as a Federal or Postal employee, and seeking clarity for future plans and career goals. 

Federal Disability Retirement is simply an option to be considered, if one is finding that one’s medical conditions — whether physical, psychiatric, or a combination of both which exacerbate and feed onto each other — are impacting one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  Whether in a sedentary administrative, cognitive-intensive position, or mostly a physically demanding job, or even a combination of both, if a Federal or Postal employee is finding that continuation with the essential elements of one’s job is becoming an impossibility, then Federal Disability Retirement is certainly an option to be considered

Celebrating the “New Year” should always include taking an inventory for the future.  For Federal and Postal employees under either FERS or CSRS, considering the option of formulating, preparing, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application should be part of that equation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Plantar Fasciitis, Rotator Cuff, Extremity Injuries, etc.

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is often the case that Federal and Postal workers (and the general population) tend to “pigeonhole” medical conditions, injuries and disabilities.  Certain medical conditions are considered “causally related” to certain types of jobs, and this type of relational categorization is often true in Worker’s Compensation claims, or other benefits sought in other areas of law. 

Thus, Plantar Fasciitis is often closely associated with Postal Workers who must remain on their feet throughout the day; Rotator Cuff injuries are often associated with the repetitive physical use of upper extremities; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Cervical, Lumbar & Thoracic pain, degenerative disc disease, etc., are all categorized and pigeonholed into physical types of jobs.  Yet, chronic pain of one’s extremities, joints, musculature, etc. can often severely impact more sedentary types of jobs, precisely because of the high distractability of such chronicity of pain.  Additionally, one often overlooks the excessive amount of repetitive “micro-movements” one engages in while on a computer — of the thousands of dexterous manipulations of the fingers and the concomitant engagement of the shoulder muscles, etc., in the very act of typing on a keyboard. 

Pigeonholing a medical condition to a specific type of job is a dangerous endeavor of dismissing a viable Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS and CSRS.  Careful thought and consideration should be given for each medical condition, especially when attempting to ignore the impediment it is causing in performing the essential elements of one’s job does not make the pain go away.  “Out of sight” does not mean “out of mind”, especially when dealing with pain and the underlying medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Back Pain and Disability Retirement for Federal Workers

Back pain — diagnosed by many different designations and causes, including Degenerative Disc Disease, Spondylolisthesis, spinal arthritis, multi-level disc bulges, disc impingement upon the thecal sac, sciatica, failed back syndrome, etc. — presents a variety of interesting dilemmas and creative solutions when formulating, preparing and constructing a narrative to describe and delineate the impact upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

What is interesting is how back pain — chronic cervical, lumbar or thoracic pain, often with accompanying radiating features which include symptoms of numbness, tingling and pain to the extremities — can impact both one’s sedentary job, or one’s very physical job.  Both can be equally and severely impacted.

Then, of course, there is the conundrum of the “catch-22” — without pain medications, one has such a high distractability of pain that one cannot perform either the sedentary job or the very physical job; yet, with pain medications, the sedation which results prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job.  Either way, back pain presents a serious medical issue in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, back pain is a serious medical condition which is a valid and viable basis for an effective application, if formulated and presented properly.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire