OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Fundamentals

What does it mean when a person says, “The fundamentals remain sound”?  Is it one of those “throw-away” lines which makes one sound intelligent, but upon closer inspection, means very little?  Sort of like the misuse of the double-negative that was popularly in use, where people say, “irregardless” of this or that?

Fundamentals are important to every successful endeavor, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is the “fundamentals” which must never be overlooked, but rather, to be focused upon, tweaked, considered carefully and crafted with greater perfection.

Unfortunately, many people who prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, believe (erroneously) that the mere fact that one has a “serious” medical condition is enough to satisfy the eligibility criteria for an approval from OPM.  Always remember that there is a vast difference, with a “real” distinction, between “having” a medical condition and “proving” that the medical condition one has prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

It is very easy to focus upon one’s pain, anguish and despair in dealing with a medical condition, and forget that an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is by necessity a “paper presentation” to an unknown, faceless person lost within a vast bureaucracy in Boyers, Pennsylvania, and in the process to neglect the “fundamentals” in preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.

When the fundamentals are sound, the rest of it is sound; and though such “sayings” may often be thrown about without much thought put into it, it is the soundness of the fundamentals that will prove to be the effective application that gets a First-Stage approval in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Higher and lesser standards

Does anyone ever go into something, engage an activity, begin a project or initiate a hobby thinking that a “lesser standard” would be acceptable?  Or, is the “higher standard” always the option preferred? — and if we fall somewhat short of the goal intended, isn’t it better to strive towards that height of vaunted “unreachable-ness” like the lesser angels who try and climb up the ladder to heaven but fall short because of the misgivings of sins committed or blemishes of imperfections left unchanged?

One can always argue, of course, that all standards are somewhat “arbitrary”, and perhaps they are to the extent that we can always “do better”, and the self-satisfaction of reaching the pinnacle of any standard set is merely to realize that there can always be another step to take, a further goalpost to conquer, and a next and higher challenge to face.  To begin with a lesser standard is to foretell defeat before a journey is begun; whereas, to demand an unreachable standard is to despair of an idealism that cannot be fathomed.  What, then, is the “proper” standard to set?

To set it too low is to achieve mere mediocrity; to preface a too-high-a-standard is to defeat one’s advocacy before efficacy can be tested.

We, none of us, want to begin a journey with a defeatist mentality, and it is the setting of a standard — however low or high — that often determines the success or failure of any endeavor.  It is only when we “know” that a self-set standard will never be reached, cannot be attained and will never be near to the heart of our wishes and desires, that then we realize the utter futility of our own efforts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have set a high standard in their careers and employment goals, it is a difficult road to take, both mentally and/or physically, to realize and come to the conclusion that one’s professional standards can no longer be met because of a medical condition that impedes, precludes and prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

No one ever sets out to reduce the standards of a life’s goal, but when outside forces such as a medical condition impact upon the standards set, the choice is to prepare, formulate and file 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 or CSRS Offset.

Federal and Postal employees have always set high standards for their work ethic. Sometimes, however, it is not the higher standard that defeats, but the lesser standards of reality — such as a medical condition that comes about unexpectedly in life — that forces the necessary adjustments that remind us of our own mortality, imperfections and the gap between the higher standards we set and the truth of our own misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Things not likely to happen

It is not likely that tomorrow morning you will wake up and find that aliens have taken over the earth (although, if one were to read various supermarket tabloids, that has already occurred many times over, both while asleep and awake); it is not likely that you will win the lottery with that last dollar spent on running a random set of numbers (though millions each day shell out astronomical sums in the aggregate with dreams – and sometimes actual plans reflected upon – of what one will do “when” the improbable event will happen); and it is not likely that the email received the other day from some banker in Burkina Faso who wants a “trusted friend” to allow for a transfer of a cool $100 million and would allow you to keep half of it just because you happen to be the only person in the universe who has a bank account and can keep a secret, will actually honor such a request.

Nevertheless, people actually consider such fantasies, and to the detriment of those who do so with serious intent, harm themselves either by delaying what could be done, setting aside the reality of what needs to be accomplished, and turning over valuable time to endeavors not likely to happen.

Often, and unfortunately, medical conditions have that same characteristic – of things not likely to happen.  It begins by happening – of a medical condition that should not have been, or is seen to be “unfairly” targeting a particular individual, and a period of disbelief ensues where the question is, “Why me?  Why not the other guy, instead?”  Then, once the phase of acceptance comes about, one begins to adapt, compromise the levels of acceptability and quality of life, and modification of expectations surely follows soon thereafter.  Then, one hopes, prays, angrily shouts to the heavens or otherwise with quiet resignation begins to ruminate – yes, the medical condition may be unfair, but so is the lot of life we all live.

And the principle of things not likely to happen applies to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the things not likely to happen includes: The medical condition will just go away; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will just let things slide and be very understanding; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service will actually accommodate your medical condition; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will find you another job at the same pay or grade; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will grant SL, AL or LWOP in unlimited amounts so that you can attend to your illness or medical condition; and the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service will show empathy, sympathy and understanding and make you feel “welcomed” while you endure one of the most difficult periods of your life.  Not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: A Return to Basics

Every few decades, there is a “new” movement which upholds the divinity of returning to the foundational core of one’s existence:  of going back to being a farmer; living a life of an ascetic; stripping away all “unnecessary” accretions and accoutrements deemed as vestries of comfort and “bourgeois” by definition (whatever that means); or, in common parlance and language more amenable to the ordinary person, living more “simply”.

The perspective that such a “movement” is somehow “new” is of itself rather an anomaly; but then, each generation believes that they have discovered and invented the proverbial wheel, and all such past epochs were mere ages of primitive imbecility.   And, perhaps, we are once more in that familiar circle of life, and such a movement has beset the quietude of modernity, again.  As such, let us return to the basics:

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee may need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the “foundational” eligibility criteria needs to be met:  For those under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System — or the “new” system sometime around 1986 and thereafter), the Federal or Postal employee must have a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service in order to apply.  For those under CSRS, the accrual time is 5 years — and, as such, anyone under CSRS would presumably have met that basic requirement, although a CSRS employee with a long “break in service” could potentially fall short, but that would involve a unique set of circumstances rarely seen.

Further, the Federal or Postal employee who sets about to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must either be (A) a current employee (in which case he or she would file first through the agency’s Human Resource Office, then to be forwarded to OPM, (B) if not a current employee, then separated from service not more than 1 year (as the Statute of Limitations in filing for Federal Disability Retirement requires that a former Federal or Postal employee file directly with OPM within 1 year of being separated from service), (C) if separated from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, but not for more than 31 days, then to file with one’s former Agency, and (D) if separated for more than 31 days, but less than 1 year, then refer to (B) and file directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pennsylvania.

These are some of the “basics” in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  There is much, much more to the entire process, but then again, if one were to expand too far astray from the foundational core of the “back to basics” movement, one would be a hypocrite for allowing the complications of life to accrue beyond the essential elements of life — of water, food and shelter or, for the Federal and Postal employee filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the bridge between one’s position and the medical conditions one suffers from.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Goldilocks Principle

Most of us are familiar with the fairytale; but in modernity, the principle extrapolated has been extended thus: the natural pendulum of occurrences must fall within a certain set of margins, as opposed to reaching the outer limits of extremes.  And, indeed, most things settle into a comfortable compromise of corollary constancy; it is precisely because of the anomaly of extremes that we take special note of the exceptions which develop and manifest.  And that is always the continuing hope of most individuals — for a reaching of compromise, and static settling into a middle ground, etc.

But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition begins to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the Goldilocks Principle will often fail to apply.  Increasing pressure is brought to bear (no pun intended) upon the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who shows signs of vulnerability; perhaps an initial verbal warning, then a written admonishment; then, the placement of a PIP within the constant environment of hostility; restrictions upon leave usage, and finally, a proposal to remove.

Medical conditions require priority of purpose and attending to the medical condition itself.  Actions by agencies and the U.S. Postal Service often serve to exacerbate the medical condition.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option which should be considered earlier, than later.

In the end, of course, the Goldilocks Principle is somewhat relatively determined by where those margins or goalposts are placed; for, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the realization that the middle ground of comfort is far from the fences of the extreme, depends upon where the Federal or Postal employee is standing, in relation to the medical condition, the harassment received, and the empathy shown (or more precisely stated, the lack thereof) by the agency and the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Of Capillary Constancy

Capillaries represent the smallest of the body’s blood vessels, which cumulatively account for the greater part of the microcirculatory means of reaching extremities and body under-surfaces beyond the reach of major veins.  Bursting or damaging a few here and there have little effect; cutting a capillary or bruising resulting from a blow to a branch of them, will have residual reverberations of unnoticed proportions.

But then, that is how most lives are considered, and treated; not as major arterial avenues of pumping stations, but way stations and secluded outposts visited only when mandated by necessity, and even then sporadically and with grumbling trepidation. But it is the very constancy of the work of capillaries which uphold the arterial integrity of the major vessels of society; and while most Federal and Postal workers go about their business in a daily routine within the quietude of unnoticed efficiency, it is when an interruption of a major event interposed upon a singular individual, that one must take pause and notice the otherwise uneventful event in a life of a capillary-like existence.

Chronic injuries and disabling conditions tend to do that to us.  For the individual who suffers from a medical condition, the traumatic life-event become a major obstacle; for the rest of society, it is the mere interruption and inconvenience of a capillary’s constancy being cut off.  The major vessels of life continue to pound away, pumping with rhythmic efficiency and barely taking notice of the lack of lifeline to the outreaches of peripheral concerns; but for the individual capillary, the crushing of life represented by a medical condition is a major event of exponentially significant proportions. Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and whose medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, need the respite of recuperative time; but like capillaries damaged or otherwise severed, they are often forgotten immediately following the event.

Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, may be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; but one must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the nexus between the medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job. It is, in the end, the relevance of the whole organism and the efficiency of the body entirety, that matters; and to that extent, of the capillary constancy that results when significance is discovered for each outpost in the life of a human being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Working Paradigm

Most doctors, attorneys, and the general public are familiar with the concept of “disability benefits”, but only in relation to the Social Security Administration.  It is rare that disability benefits are associated with, or are known to exist, separately for Federal employees or the U.S. Postal Service, in relation to a concept which is progressively unique and creatively formulated within a context of a society and a bureaucracy which is not normally know for such characteristics:  a system of disability where the disabled individual is encouraged to seek employment without being penalized for earning income by immediately terminating the disability benefits.

Yes, for Federal and Postal employees, there is the cut-off margin of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays; and, yes, if the private-sector employment is too similar in nature to the positional requirements and essential elements of the former Federal or Postal job, such parallel identity can result in a determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the former Federal employee or Postal worker is deemed medically recovered; but within those generous parameters, the paradigm upon which Federal Disability Retirement is based, is what can only be described as a “working paradigm”, precisely because, as a system of incentives, it works, and as a practical matter, it encourages Federal and Postal workers to continue to remain productive in the workforce, and to perpetuate a self-paying system, as opposed to the de-incentivized system of Social Security, which has an extremely low threshold of allowable income before terminating benefits.

OPM Disability Retirement is effective precisely because it is a working paradigm — both in a pragmatic sense, and as a metaphorical basis for building a foundation for one’s future, as opposed to being stuck in the rut of an administrative bureaucracy which fails to understand and appreciate the human instinct to remain productive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire