Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Waiting

We wait in lines and on telephones; we wait for the mail and to be served in restaurants and supermarkets; waiting is a necessity, based upon a closely-held belief that the end-product for which we expend such virtues as patience is worthy of the investment of time. There is always a quick calculation which must be engaged before the waiting can begin; of weighing the importance of the service or product to be received, in conjunction with the time it will take to attain the goal of receipt, and in further consideration of the comparative value of other things “to do”.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is filing for Federal disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, the worth of waiting must always be balanced with the proverbial question, “For what?”

Waiting for a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service to initiate an action which may or may not impact a Federal Disability Retirement application is normally not “worth” it, for such a wait may never produce anything fruitful. Waiting because to do otherwise — to act — will incur efforts of cognitive or physical exhaustion is something which will only delay an inevitable need, and is therefore unwise to engage, is something that must be often countered by sheer force of will.

On the other hand, once a Federal Disability Retirement application is filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the real game of waiting begins, and one which no one has very little and limited control over. For, ultimately, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the agency which has the authority to approve or deny a Federal Disability Retirement case — has the cards which count, and the requested product of the goal to attain: a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application filed by the Federal or Postal Worker.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Development

Aristotle speaks often in terms of the spectrum between potentialities and actualization, revealing the philosophical concerns surrounding man’s ability to discern reality from appearances, scientific certitude as distinguished from mere opinions; and, in the end, the capacity to bifurcate truth from falsity. As Pre-Socratic philosophy brought out the problems of an ever-changing world, with Heraclitus and Parmenides as two classic examples of the focus of inquiry, so the underlying and common thread remains even with us today: How, in an ever-changing universe, do we attain some semblance of static certainty?

Anxiety during the development or waiting periods

Anxiety and stress during the development or waiting periods.

Medical conditions tend to bring to the fore a sudden change which is not merely problematic, but impacting upon all sectors and areas of one’s life. The quietude of the normal and mundane is suddenly turned upside down; that which we relied upon, and for which we worked so hard to achieve, are all suddenly in a state of disarray and disruption.

As certainty is the harbinger of security, so constant flux remains the loosened bolt which potentially unhinges such security. That is why, for Federal and Postal employees who are in the “development” stage of either preparing, formulating or in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS or, in the long and arduous “waiting” stage in anticipation of a decision to be rendered by OPM, a constant sense of anxiety and angst prevails, precisely because the lack of certitude in bringing about stability is presently ever-pervasive in one’s thoughts. Perspectives are important in the quest for truth.

Both Plato and Aristotle recognized the subjective factor of perceptual idiosyncrasies amongst species.  Development of a case for Federal and Postal Workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, will continue to remain in a state of flux, uncertainty, and insecurity. And like the metaphorical river into which Heraclitus walks, revealing the constancy of change and stream of flux, until a decision is rendered by OPM, life remains a metaphor for development into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Unresponsive Agency

The complaints abound, and continue to exponentially increase; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is way behind on its evaluation, review and decision-making process for all characters of retirements, disability retirements included.

It is a given that filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must necessarily have an expectation of a time-consuming administrative process, precisely because of the encounter with a Federal bureaucracy.  But it seems that each year — nay, each month and week — the delays continue to expand.

At each step of the way, OPM has become more and more unresponsive, and with new cases coming in, the length of time at every stage, and “between” stages, has been extended.  The process itself contains inherent milestones of delay: from filing the entire disability retirement application to a facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which merely annotates the receipt of the case and inputs the case into the computer system; to thereafter sending the disability retirement application, with all of its evidentiary submissions and attachments down to Washington, D.C., where it must first await assignment to a caseworker; then, upon assignment, for the caseworker to even get to the applicant’s submission for review and evaluation.  Then, of course, there is the possibility that the entire packet will be selected to be sent out for review by a contract doctor.

The delays are beyond the control of the applicant, his or her OPM Disability attorney, or the agency for whom the applicant worked.  It is, ultimately, an administrative process which can be tedious, time-consuming, and fraught with delays and extended periods of silence.

Patience may well be a virtue, but the unresponsive manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has handled the delays, fails to engender much confidence in a system which should be most responsive to those in greater need.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Disability Retirement under CSRS & FERS: Continuing with the Medical Condition

The capacity to endure an ongoing medical condition is a testament to the human body and spirit.  That being said, however, there is a saturation point at which the Federal or Postal employee who continues to withstand the debilitating nature of a medical condition should not go beyond.  

When a doctor advises that a Federal or Postal employee should seek Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such a “flashpoint” obviously has been reached.  In all likelihood, however, the point at which the Federal or Postal employee should have stopped working, has probably been long overdue.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question is often asked whether a person “should” continue to work.  That is ultimately a medical question which must be discussed between the treating doctor and the patient who is a Federal or Postal employee.

Ultimately, economic and financial decisions play a major role in making such a decision; as to the secondary question of whether the continuation will have an impact upon the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, is one which can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the particular facts of each case.  

Generally speaking, however, the answer is “no”.  And so the enduring testament to the human body can be reinforced each day, as the Federal or Postal worker continues to endure the pain, medical condition, discomfort and progressive deterioration — contrary to the natural tendency to stop, even when we know better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire