Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Hope for tomorrow

Tomorrow”, as a word written today, pointing to a dimension beyond; to a vantage and perspective not yet realized, and forever to be referenced by a future date yet unknown.  When read tomorrow, it leads to the next day; and when looked upon the next day, to the following day again; and in this eternal sequence of tomorrows, whether written today, tomorrow or the next day, it forever reminds us that hope lies not in the morass of today’s problems, but in the change of things yet to be realized.

Yes, yes — we all recognize the scoffing that often surrounded the political banner of that famous phrase, “hope and change” — but that is merely because the potency of words, concepts and formulated paradigms lose their efficacy once they are used within a public arena that turns into a campaign slogan. Hope is always for tomorrow; for, without tomorrow, hope remains fallow as the desert that once promised a fertile reserve but never realized the rivers that had dried up because of the changes of the subterranean shifts in tectonic quakes that others failed to predict.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the hope for tomorrow will often include the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset.

Today is already filled with the overwhelming problems that beset any Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition; it is for tomorrow that an application for Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, and that is the ray of hope that includes tomorrow, and the day after, in preparing and formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — today.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The limited reservoir

What if the reserve is limited, but we are never informed of it?  Perhaps the gods, fate or however the source of creation is defined, has placed a quota upon the extent of that which is expended, but we are never included in the corporate decision-making process – then, what?  Death, insanity or just plain debilitation and stoppage of activity; is that what we call “an unfortunate end”?

By “reservoir”, we normally mean that natural or artificial accumulation that is used for a specified purpose – the town’s water supply; a special cache of good wines; or perhaps, even that sixth player who is left sitting (a temporary “bench warmer” – though, perhaps in this climate of everyone being nice to each other, such terms are no longer considered appropriate) aside until a burst of fresh input is needed.

Concurrently, we expect that any depletion from the cistern is consistently replenished, except during periods of extreme droughts when we are forced to systematically make use of it with the justification that it is that for which we reserved it in the first place, and when times are better, we will take care in replacing that which seemed limitless just an eon ago.  And, why is it that when the main tank has been completely re-filled, we have a tendency towards excess and lavish spending, but when we hit the “reserve” indicator, suddenly we act with frugal caution and become responsible conservationist?

Is it because of our hereditary backgrounds as hunters and gatherers during a time of unknown and tenuous circumstances, when bodies hungrily stored fat in order to survive during those times of want and scarcity?

What if we are left with a limited number of words in life, and once expended, we become transformed into unnoticed mutes wandering across time, traversing the silence amidst others who have saved their reserve for future accessibility?

Life often “feels” like that – of having reached a point of depletion where the quota has been reached, the reservoir has been emptied, and the excess energy expired.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, it often seems as if the reservoir needed in order to reach that golden mark when retirement age and cumulative years of Federal Service coalesce to allow for passing across the proverbial “finish line”, has been too early depleted.

Unfortunately, medical conditions hasten the reservoir of time, energy, patience and capacity to withstand the daily toil of workplace stresses and employment concerns, and there is often a need to access an alternate source of supply.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for that; it is a means to recognizing that the reservoir is limited, and that the medical condition has reached a critical point where replenishment is no longer an option.  Yet, even after a Federal Disability Retirement is achieved, the Federal and Postal worker can go out into the private sector and remain productive, and under the law, is allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, and still maintain employment and receive the annuity.

For, while the reservoir of one’s life and talents may indeed be limited, it is the limitation of self-imposed stubbornness in refusing to acknowledge that the medical condition has reached a critical point, that often defeats and depletes long before the fuel gauge indicates a warning light of that ever-blinking “danger” point.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Price of Admission

Private entities charge more; exclusive arenas tend to be out of reach; and it is, ultimately and as in all economic realities, determined by an admixture of supply (how many are allowed) and demand (how desirous is the goal of entrance and acceptance).  For every admittance, there is a price to pay.  Often, it is not merely the affirmative transfer of money or goods, but rather, the negative aspect of what one must “give up” in order to attain the end.  It often involves a comparative analysis, an economic evaluation of gain versus loss, and in the end, the emptiness of the latter being overtaken by the value of the former.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to awaken an awareness that one’s career may be coming to the twilight of that lengthy, successful run, it is often that “price of admission” which makes one hesitate.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question is double-sided:  the price one “has been” paying to remain as a Federal or Postal employee, as opposed to the loss of employment status, or becoming an “ex-member” of that exclusive club.

Change always portends a trauma of sorts; the medical condition and the revelation of vulnerability, mortality and progressive debilitation was in and of itself crisis of identity; but when it becomes clear that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and that further changes to one’s career and livelihood must by necessity occur, then the avalanche of reality’s namesake begins to dawn.

The price of admission for one’s health, ultimately, is priceless; and that is the reality which one must face when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Fly a Kite

It is the epitome of a pleasurable moment, of engaging a mindless activity which spurs thought; and so to fly a kite is to soar with winds beyond our reach.  Does a life lived vicariously live life lifelessly?  As the flapping breeze at heights unreachable carries it airborne with but a thread to preclude its sudden spiraling away and into an abyss of telephone wires, treetops and treacherous heights of threatening snags, it is that hand which holds steady the coil of connection which controls length, movement, and steadiness of stability.

How tenuous is the reed of life?  When once youth masked the viscosity of existence, where mortality seemed but a yarn of empty rocking chairs and tall tells in the shadows of the flickering embers of a warm fireplace; and how the tenacity we maintained with vigor and vitality concealed those fears we harbored as we set about to conquer the challenges of an uncertain world; but when the fanfare subsided, and the promises of unspoken ceremonies fell silent before the finish line, the realization that life is but a short span of eternity where worth and value can be embraced only by measuring the momentary warmth of a hug or holding a gaze with a loved one for a millisecond beyond the practical, then does one finally achieve a balance of peace in a universe of turmoil.

The holidays tend to bring such realizations to the fore; so do medical conditions and their impact upon body, mind and soul.  If by “soul” we attribute, just for a moment, not that controversial component of man where existence beyond the ephemeral world of matter must by belief encompass eternity, but instead, the aggregate of man’s complexities:  of mind, physical body, consciousness, the heart and vegetative divisions, etc. — then it is indeed the totality of man who is impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the tenuous reed of life becomes exponentially magnified because of the stoppage of career, intervention of life’s goals, and interruption of all of the “things” that need to be done.  An interrupted life is like the proverbial ship without sails; the moorings have been damaged, and one senses a drifting without control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pragmatic step for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who cannot perform each of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, it is the pragmatic steps — the ones which can actually realize a practical outcome — which counts for something.

If you are a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, and you have at least 18 months of Federal Service, then you have already met the minimum eligibility requirement to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If you are a dinosaur under CSRS or CSRS Offset, then you have likely already met that requirement, anyway.  All that is necessary is to put together a case of proving that one’s medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by a preponderance of the evidence.

For, in the end, it is that thin thread which guides the pleasure of flying a kite which stands between chaos and connectivity; letting go should not be the only option; it may just be a little tug which is all that one needs, in order to steady the flight of life and retain that childhood sense of invincibility.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire