FERS Disability Retirement: The facade of happiness

There are weather-related “fronts” — of “cold fronts” and “warm fronts” bringing in the freshness of change, a sudden modulation of temperature and a gust of windy hollows echoing through valleys and down into the chill of our bones.  They change the temperature of the air around us, and often moods are impacted as well.

Then, there are also “fronts” of human characteristics — of “putting on a brave front”; of making a “frontal assault”; and of these latter, we realize that there is always something behind, like the wizard concealed by the curtain undrawn.  We all of us put on “fronts” — and like the weather fronts that fool us at first that Spring may be nigh or Winter’s discontent may be around the corner, the “brave” front may be just a put-on, just like the “frontal assault” is likely a ruse to deploy one’s forces all at once to meet the enemy head on.

Of all the fronts, it is the facade of happiness that fools the most, even one’s self, into thinking that contentment is the amassing of objects surrounding, careers advancing and problems left avoiding.  The facade of happiness works well for a season, so long as the fool who buys the bridge of smiles never lifts the veil an inch to peer into the darkness of a soul in anguish.  Happiness is a fleeting state of existence; here for a moment today, it vanishes like the spirits of yesterday’s underworld where gods were chosen to wander the earth in ashen looks of greying days.

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 facade of happiness has likely been an essential tool for survival in this past year, if not longer.

It allows for the Federal or Postal worker to put on a “brave front”, to fool the others for a time — somewhat like the cold front that descends upon the south in the middle of summer to remind one that change is in the air, or the “architectural front” that gives an old building a facelift and draws people inward as an inviting new asset.

But don’t be fooled; for the facade of happiness can never hide for long the suffering beneath, and for the Federal or Postal worker, preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first real step towards an abiding and real happiness, as opposed to the fake smile that conceals beneath the facade of happiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The centrality of fringe

In whatever definition one wants to adopt, the meaning is clear:  It is that which is on the outer periphery, and not central to the essence recognized.  But what if the reversal occurs?  Can that even be imagined?  Can the fringe constitute a substantive centrality, and yet retain the stability of its essence?  And, once the mirror conversion occurs, does the identification remain as it was, or do we accept the fringe elements as the convention, and the formerly known staid components as outside the normative foundations of an acceptable core?   Can that which was once considered unacceptable, metamorphose over a sufficiently quantitative linear heritage to the extent that the bizarre can become the best and brightest?

In Darwinian evolutionary hypotheses, the concept of a sudden mutation occurring as a result of environmental pressures forcing an alteration for the benefit of the organism’s survival, is often rejected because, as a general rule, nature does not favor large-scale transformations, unless there is a concurrent catastrophic need arising with little time for adaptation.  Yes, in cultural transformations, where artifice of choosing may occur by the quiet assent of a silent majority, the fringe elements may dominate by sheer vocal exuberance in drowning out any meek protest by will of volume.

Most people want quiet lives uninterrupted by forced decay of choosing; the sheep follow in drones of silent consent, if only because each can see only the limited perspective of the backside inches before, and stoppage of movement would mean being accosted in the rear by another follower of mindless assent, where discomfort is the greater evil in comparison to refusing to take another step.

At what point does an insignificant minority take upon an appearance of greater dominance, where the cacophony of shrill voices exceeds the disproportionate echo of seamless quietude, and we simply give in because the comfort zone of silence is shattered by the discomfort of resistance?  Those threads which flow freely – the ones which give an added “touch” to a piece of clothing, the Persian rug or the shawl which warms; what distinguishes that from a frayed mind, a singed material where residue of ashen leftovers appear as dangling limbs from a cauldron of confusion?

At some point, each of us becomes mere fringe elements, despite our best attempts at remaining relevant.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has cast the Federal or Postal employee into that pot of “otherness” because of an inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job – it is time to do something about having been re-categorized as a “fringe” element.  Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be the only way in which to cross back over into the essence of what it means to be central to the essence of life’s hope, and not allow others to castigate us into being the centrality of fringe, when that is not where you belong in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: A Pedigree of Choices

There are still some parts in the world where line of descent and lineage of genealogy matter; certainly, for spectacles such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the origins of breeding, the line of winners, and the genetically pure tree of aristocratic connections matter still.  But humans are different; or so we like to think.

We are repulsed by the very idea of placing substantive significance upon birth rights, yet we fawn all over royal births and deaths; we deny the importance of name, lineage and legitimacy, yet grope with incestuous perversity for information of scandal and bastardly genealogy; and while we feign to act disinterestedly in matters blared in tabloid newspapers, somehow they continue to sell well, and the supermarket lines are crammed with such addictive fare, alongside candies and covered chocolates.

Pedigree is to the dying aristocracy what the economy is to today’s worker:  slow death, and fading into an unknown abyss.  That has been the beauty for democracies around the world — the choices given, the opportunities provided, in a universe where lineage, heritage and genealogy matter less than the chance to thrive.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a point in his or her career, where a medical condition has become an impediment, it is the pedigree of a different sort which must be considered.

Pedigree in a narrow sense is that which constitutes the DNA of bloodlines; in a more general sense, it is the recorded ancestry which determines fate, but which in the modern era we have been able to free ourselves of, and with deliberative intent, force the issue.  Thus, when we talk about a pedigree of choices, it is meant to denote the reaching branches of multiple paths to consider, from a singular trunk of limited origins.

Federal Disability Retirement is one such branch, reaching out into a different direction.  For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers 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 positional duties, it will often seem that future choices are as limited as the former system of feudal paucity of exclusion except for name, blood and descent by birth.

But the modern pedigree of choices is determined not by the tree of ancestry, but in the tree of knowledge; and as Federal OPM Disability Retirement is a choice available for all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum of 18 months of Federal Service (for FERS employees) and 5 years (for CSRS employees), it is incumbent upon the Federal or Postal worker who thinks that a medical condition is as self-limiting as the former constraints of pedigree, to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, as the pedigree of choices.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Stress

“Stress” is always the “problem child” in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  If a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job because of an intolerance to a certain level of stress, then certainly it should be considered as a basis for preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, either under FERS or CSRS.  However, treatment modalities must be engaged — normally, via a psychiatrist or psychotherapy.

Further, there are always issues which will come about in basing the primary medical condition as “stress” — aside from the fact that it is a generic designation which will often have corollary designations, such as Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.  For example, can one define “tolerance to stress” as an essential element of one’s job?  It is certainly an inherent element, implicit in many multi-tasking jobs and ones which require a high level of responsibilities or is subject to timeliness in quotas and work production.  But when issues concerning stresses which arise as a result of “personnel issues” (i.e., interaction with supervisors, coworkers, etc.), then it becomes a “problem-child” which is best avoided, for numerous reasons, including the possibility and danger of having one’s Federal Disability Retirement application denied based upon a “situational disability“.  Concepts and thoughts to ponder, when preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Interaction with OWCP/DOL

I receive calls periodically as to whether it is of greater advantage to remain on Worker’s Comp (Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Program — “OWCP”) as opposed to going out on OPM Disability Retirement.  My answer remains the same:  OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM disability retirement is indeed that — it is a retirement, where one is separated from Federal Service, and you go out and do what you want to with your life.  Every decision has consequences; every act which we engage in has inherent residual effects, and we have to balance such effects and consequences.  Thus, while OWCP benefits pay a higher rate (75% tax free with a dependent; 66 2/3% tax free without a dependent), there are restrictions:  You must comply with any and all requests (or demands) of the Department of Labor; you cannot go out and get another job, or start another career — because you are deemed “disabled” and are being paid for it.  On the other hand, OPM disability retirement pays less (for FERS, 60% the first year, 40% every year thereafter), but you have the freedom of retirement — you may go out and start another career, and make up to 80% of what your former position currently pays, without losing your disability annuity.  These — and many other factors — are some things to consider when weighing the differences between OPM disability retirement, and receiving OWCP/DOL benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Summer Doldrums & the Physician’s Statement

I have often pointed out in past blogs and articles that I do not have my clients sign the Physicians Statement (SF 3112C), for multiple and various reasons, not the least of which is that it is a confusing form, and in smaller print than necessary, leaving the impression to the doctor that what is requested is far more complex than what is actually required.  In its place, for my clients, I write a 4 – 5 page letter outlining the type of medical narrative report which I need.  This is the summer months; everyone from OPM representatives to lawyers, to doctors and Federal and Postal employees, take time off to recover from the hard work throughout the rest of the year.  When doctors take off for some “summer fun”, it just means that they have less time to spend on administrative matters — such as writing up a medical narrative report for their patients.  Because of this, it is important to try and simplify the matter as much as possible, and a blanket submission of the SF 3112C without some explanatory guidance, is not the best course of action.  Doctors need guidance, and in this busy world, it is best to streamline the process for them as much as possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill