CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Cumulative Impact

In economics, the concept of cumulative growth is important in understanding the progressive and incremental increase, no matter how minimal in the short term, over decades and centuries upon an individual’s and the greater society’s wealth accumulation.  It is based upon the theoretical construct of cumulative growth that fortunes are created and retirement wealth is amassed.

Flat sorting machines at USPS distribution centers

Repetitive type of injuries are common when working with Flat Sorting Machines at USPS distribution centers

As a hypothetical parallelism, what consequence would such incremental but cumulative impact have upon one’s health and well-being?  If repetitive physical stress of a seemingly insignificant quantity were to impact a wrist, a knee, a shoulder, etc., would such de minimis physical pressure acquire a different result years and decades down the road?

Is it not tantamount to radioactive exposure, where the human tissue or organ can have effective resistance to contained amounts, but over time, can begin to deteriorate and cause tumors and mutated cells resulting in cancer? Or like the prisoner who digs his way out of prison with a pen knife — one scrape at a time until a hole large enough to accommodate one’s head and body is created over months and years? Or of stresses resulting in anxiety and panic attacks; perhaps at first a twinge of needle pricks, then after months and years, an overwhelming inability to breathe properly, until reactions of the need to take sudden flight, or paralysis of muscle movements and an inability to speak or move?

Maintaining poor sitting postures for long periods of time

Maintaining poor sitting postures for long periods of time may increase the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

For Federal and Postal employees who have had a long and productive career with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service, the mystery of cumulative impact upon one’s health, through repetitive, incremental, and insidious influences withstood over time, often results in self-denial and a sense of failure.  But there is a limit as to what the human body and psyche can take on.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are simply an employment component offered to all Federal and Postal employees, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, filed ultimately with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and is merely an intelligent recognition by the Federal Government that the limitations of human invincibility can be addressed by allowing for a change of careers, by providing for a foundational security to one’s livelihood. Federal Disability Retirement — a viable option in recognition of the age-old concept of cumulative impact, both in economics and in the complex world we occupy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Semblance of Joy

Happiness is but a fleeting moment; satisfaction is but the natural result of completion; but joy, that is a tincture derived from the depths of one’s soul.  Perhaps there is an element of word-play; how we define levels of emotional states of being can depend upon the contextual usage of each conceptual construct, and in the end it is how we have described a given set of circumstances, based upon our personal experiential encounters and what sense of being we perceived at the time.

Beyond the veil of words, casting aside the layers of callouses which we have carefully built up over the years in order to survive the daily onslaught of venom in this world lacking of empathy or cooperative caring for one’s fellow human being, it is when a traumatic event suddenly befalls us that the true state of our souls becomes apparent.

Medical conditions have a tendency to magnify the reality of our state of existence.  Suddenly, perspectives become skewed; realities once depended upon appear suspicious; and we begin to lie to ourselves and take on a semblance of joy.  Why is that?  Is it because we fear the truth of human cruelty?  That despite all of the allegedly cultural advancements and technological innovations we pride ourselves about, the truth of our evolutionary baseness has never changed:  the vulnerable are merely meals for the predator in waiting.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such a state of affairs is nothing new.  Agencies begin to pile on; coworkers shun; supervisors increase the level of vitriol and punish through administrative sanctions and progressive pressures through threats and intimidating language; and, all the while, the dedicated Federal or Postal worker must suffer through with limited options and constricted avenues slowly being blocked and cordoned off as restricted zones no longer open, where once the brightness of tomorrow promised the world.

For Federal and Postal employees finding themselves in the untenable position of having a medical condition, such that the medical condition is preventing him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

When once the Federal or Postal worker comes to a realization that the bet upon happiness cannot be placed upon one’s employment or career, and where satisfaction is no longer a possibility with the mission of an agency; when the exhaustion and fatigue of hiding behind the semblance of joy begins to constrict and close in, like the human figure behind a Noh mask covering the claustrophobia of existence; then, it is time to consider taking on the long road of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether you as the Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Be a Squirrel, for a Day

Watching them is an exercise of fascination; with nimble flight, to jump from a rooftop to the tip of a branch 10 feet away; scurry up and down trees with little thought (or is that merely a human projection without justification?) and no hesitation between the daredevil act and the graceful landing; and then to sunbathe in the midday warmth on a protruding ledge of the fence.

What a carefree existence; or so it would seem.  For, upon an extended observation, one realizes that there is never a moment when the squirrel is unaware of its surroundings, and that the anxiety-filled existence of human beings is not too different from that of the animal kingdom from which we conceptually separate ourselves, but of which reality forces a recognition of kinship.

One wonders how the ordinary individual can survive the daily stresses of life; but in turning to an uncomplicated animal such as a squirrel, you quickly realize that we are created as a bundle of stress-resistance nerves.  For the squirrel, the probability of a predator ready to pounce requires a heightened spectrum of awareness that approaches constant vigilance.  For the individual human being, the technological, artificial, but nevertheless just-as-real “stressors” of stimuli which require minute-by-minute responses, are readily received by the evolutionary adaptation first developed in the dangers of wildlife.

Thus, it is little wonder that when a medical condition hits an individual, the quickened pace of deterioration and progressive chronicity of the condition turns to debilitating impact.  By then, the stress-overload has reached its maximum impact.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition such that one must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time between the onset of the medical condition and the need to file is often short.  This should not be surprising, given that the Federal and Postal employee has often ignored or otherwise overcompensated for the warning signs of impending consequences.

OPM Disability Retirement can take some time to obtain.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, every Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the waiting time tends to be arbitrary, but in each case, somewhat lengthy.  Given that, once the crisis point of “needing” to file has been identified, it is important to take the next giant step and initiate the process.

And, like the squirrel of whom we imagine is merely frolicking in the sun, the lack of outward appearance of a need is never the true indicator of what is going on underneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The OWCP Black Hole

Many people rely upon the “generosity” of FECA (OWCP) payments during the period of temporary total disability, and indeed, being tax free and paying 75% of one’s salary (with dependents) or 66 2/3% without, one can easily become reliant upon such benefits. But being on OWCP does not protect the Federal or Postal Worker from being administratively separated from service for extended absences, or for one’s medical inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, or “unavailability for duty” or other similar basis, to promote the efficiency of the Federal Service.  The agency needs someone to fill the position and do the job.

Normally, at a fairly early stage in one’s period of enduring and suffering from a medical condition or injury, one can assess the nature, extent and severity of the medical condition.  With that in mind, it is a good idea to begin thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  The security of OWCP benefits is attractive; however, OWCP is not a retirement address.  FECA will “cut off” the benefits at some point — unless you are somehow lost in the black hole of their payment roster, which happens periodically.  However, there are too many horror stories of a Federal employee who stayed on OWCP, was separated from Federal Service, never filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within 1 year of being separated, and then one day received a fateful phone call…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire