Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Once upon a Time

Once upon a time, there were great “causes” for which people fought to live for; evil empires which desired domination and for which the world went to war; liberties denied and suppressed, resulting in meaningful mass protests; and in the microcosm of individual lives, hope for a future and a better tomorrow, for which people married, had families, and strove for stability.

In today’s world, the opposite seems to prevail; the news is replete with trivial reasons to exit life; if one is turned down when a prom invitation is issued, it is a basis for an outrageous reaction; assertions of hurt feelings can be the foundation for court filings declaring a violation of rights; and when a society mandates the importance of rights over courteous behavior, the crumbling of foundational structures is not too far from a once-distant and dark future.

The famous and classic book by Harper Lee encapsulates the contrast of great and small troubles; of a microcosm reflecting larger issues worthy of consideration; but always, there was a sense that tomorrow would bring about a brighter future.  In it, Atticus speaks of the idea that one can never quite understand another unless one walks in his shoes, and looks at things from the other’s perspective.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, such a sense of the world is a well-known commodity.  All of a sudden, one becomes a pariah, when one may have been that shining star just a month before.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for Federal and Postal Workers who seek a brighter tomorrow, and for whom greater causes still exist. That is why the benefit allows for the potential and possibility of the Federal Worker to seek other employment and a second vocation; for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits recognize the worth of the individual, and the fact that there is life after the devastating effects of a medical condition which may end one’s Federal or Postal career.

One may laugh at such notions, or have the cynical view that Federal Disability Retirement is merely one of those benefits for which the Federal government is giving another proverbial “handout”; but the fact is, like Atticus Finch in the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, there is always a brighter future for every generation, no matter the despair one may feel at any given moment in history.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Limitation of Imagination

The imposition of one’s cultural nurturing, combined with the genetic determinism of one’s heritage, makes us who we are, and presents to the world the essence of each unique personality.  One likes to think of the infinite and limitless potentiality of each individual, and indeed, when one views with awe the artwork of Michelangelo or reads the linguistic brilliance of Shakespeare, the inspiration which such paradigms of qualitative magnitude provides as examples of what can be, leaves one with breathless wonderment.

In reality, of course, most of us live lives of trepidation, confined to contained anxieties because of the self-defeating boundaries set by a lack of imaginative fortitude.  We hear of preachings to “think outside of the box”, but once the uttered declarative is embraced, we are actually following the conventional wisdom and merely repeating that which is inside the proverbial box, only to follow the dictates of conventionality to follow the masses to go outside, when everybody and his brother has already been doing that.

Federal and Postal Workers who are hit by a medical condition, such that it forces one to consider viable alternatives and reconsider one’s career and vocation for the future, often have no choice but to step outside of the conventional box. Federal Disability Retirement for all Federal and Postal Workers, whether under FERS or CSRS, and filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, allows for that option of the human imagination going beyond the cultural or genetic determinism of one’s heritage, precisely by providing a semblance of financial security such that one can, after attending to one’s medical conditions, consider future employment options.

Federal Disability Retirement thus satisfies the foundation of human need; and it is only when the basic human needs are met, that one can then have the leisure of going beyond the limits of our own imaginations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Body Breaking

The age-old paradigm of assuming that one’s career will take a singular path from birth to death is based upon a pre-industrial viewpoint fostered and solidified in the post-industrial age.  It is folly, however, to think that the human body can survive and withstand the repetitive stresses, both physical and cognitive, of the daily impact inflicted by the modern workplace.

Whether in physically-demanding jobs in the Postal Service; unrestricted stresses in Supervisory roles; of administrative functions in Postal and non-Postal Federal jobs requiring multi-tasking at levels unheard of; or of sustained, unsustainable endurance of data gathering, evaluation and analysis in front of a computer screen; there has been little-to-no time for evolutionary progress of the human body or psyche to adapt to the level of physical, mental and emotional demands and requirements coming from the modern workplace.

That is why Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit in the Federal Sector which is one of the few well thought-out compensatory packages:  a recognition that a particular kind of job may well no longer be able to be performed because of a specific medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing on in that career; paying a certain annuity amount; then, encouraging the (now former) Federal or Postal employee to remain productive by paying “back into the system” by becoming employed in some other capacity in the private sector.  Such a paradigm is a progressive one, and it recognizes the need for flexibility while understanding the reality of the human condition within the context of the workplace.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is a benefit which is available for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, and should be considered seriously by the modern workforce as a recognition that prior paradigms of single careers and vocations never took into consideration the complexity of the human body or psyche, nor the flashpoint of the body breaking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Pre-planned Life

Planning is part of our culture; from birth, to plan for old age; from the first entrance into a career, to consider the options for retirement funding; from the days of schooling, to determine the course of one’s career; and multiple intermediate pre-planning considerations, often mundane in nature, such as what to eat for dinner, how many children to have, where to live, etc.  Whether animals plan for the day, and to what extent, may be debated; what cannot be disputed is the extent and complexity in comparison to the pre-planning engaged in by Man.

But life rarely follows along the neat and uninterrupted course of a plan determined days, months or years prior; instead, the hiccups of life are what make for interesting interludes of unexpected turns and twists.  The proverbial nest egg may not have developed as quickly; one’s expectations of career goals may not have blossomed; a child may have come unplanned; or a lost puppy may have appeared at one’s doorstep.

Medical conditions are somewhat like those interruptions of interludes; they may not be as pleasant as some other hiccups, but they are realities which people have to deal with.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a situation where medical conditions prevent them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to undertake two preliminary steps:  An assessment of the medical condition and whether it is likely to resolve within a year or less; if not, to investigate and become informed about Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One of the elements which must be shown is that one’s medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  This can normally be easily accomplished by a doctor who can provide a prognosis fairly early on in the process.

And perhaps a third step:  A recognition that lives rarely travel along a pre-planned route, no matter what you were taught to believe, and more than that, that the value of one’s life should not be reflected by veering into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Time is Now

Waiting for the perfect storm is always the most persuasive grounds for procrastination; that time where coalescence of all necessary factors come together to provide the optimal moment to do something, but which never arrives; and so there is always one issue still to point to, where one can say, “X has not occurred, yet,” in order to delay the inevitable.

The problem with allowing for perfection to prevent action, is that in the meantime it allows for the deterioration of surrounding circumstances and conditions to occur, thereby further exacerbating the allowance for any such perfection to appear.  Grounds always exist to excuse an action; and when the seriousness of contemplating a change of vocation or stoppage of a career is at stake, such grounds are normally reasonable and real.  But at some point, especially when contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must simply acknowledge the fact that one’s present circumstance itself is less-than-a-perfect situation, and with that admission, to weigh the factors in deciding whether filing for FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement is the only viable option left.

In a fantasy-filled virtual world, it may well be that one can wait for the coming-together of perfect circumstances; in the “real” world, one must face and decide upon options which may not always present themselves as the best of all possible worlds.

The problem with today is that many of us live in the virtual world of videos; but there is a Kantian world of objectivity out there, and the coldness of that world is often reflected in the very agencies for which Federal and Postal Workers work.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Career-ending Event

One often reads and hears about a traumatic injury which suddenly and unpredictably ends the career of a certain sports figure.  Such stories evoke sentiments of empathy, for the potential which was never entirely fulfilled, and for the personal tragedy which befalls the individual, the family, and those who admired the talent which failed to reveal its fullness.  

But in everyday life, such tragedies occur in less spectacular ways; perhaps not as sudden and unexpected incidents or injuries as to bifurcate between the day before and the day after; rather, through a chronicity of time, over months and years of struggling, until a day comes when one must admit to one’s self that the chosen career-path must be reevaluated.  

The trauma of the life-changing event is no less significant to the Federal or Postal Worker than to a star NBA, NFL or NHL player.  For the Federal or Postal worker who has worked diligently, if not quietly and unassumingly, in the chosen career path — a recognition that his or her medical condition will no longer allow continuation in the vocation, has the identical reverberations as those more notably identified, in terms of financial, economic, personal and professional significance, relevance and impact.  

In fact, sometimes even more so — because one never witnesses the long and arduous struggle for the months and years prior to making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, through the “quiet years” of using Sick Leave sparingly; of trying to maintain a semblance of competence and work-completion in the face of medical conditions which are never told, never spoken of, and never acknowledged.  

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel management, is tantamount to that “traumatic injury”; it’s just that such an event is rarely, if ever, written about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Unlike the Superbowl

Since this week requires some profound analogy to the upcoming game between Baltimore and San Francisco, we must submit to the conventionalized mandate.

The Superbowl is an “event”; Federal Disability Retirement is similarly an event, albeit one which requires foresight, planning, and a purposeful step to engage in a change from daily living. There — the analogy has been made and satisfied. Moreover, in truth, most issues which surface in daily life are not based upon expectations of an upcoming event.  

The Superbowl is something which NFL players strive for as a goal; a career-ending injury or medical condition is more akin to what a player suffers on the pathway to that goal.  For Federal and Postal employees, a quiet, consistent and progressive route to a satisfying career is what is sought after.  For many, however, such a solemn and honorable goal is cut short because of unforeseen circumstances — either a physical medical condition, or a psychiatric condition which insidiously begins to disrupt and destroy.

Remember, however, that Federal Disability Retirement is not a complete surrender to a medical condition; that is precisely why the U.S. Office of Personnel Management allows for a person on disability retirement to engage in another vocation, and to work and earn income up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.  

The Superbowl is a one-time event per year; beyond that, there are 364 days of daily living which everyone must consider, including the Federal and Postal employee, as well as the star NFL player. Just something to think about, and to maintain a rational, balanced perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire