Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: The Inconsequential

In the annals of history, most of us remain as the inconsequential.  Not even a footnote, nor even a passing reference, we are lumped into generations of third-person subjects unnamed and faceless.  We might read, for instance, that during the “Sixties” or “Seventies” (or beyond), this group of people or that community of individuals did X or participated in Y, and we might say to ourselves, “Oh, that is a reference to my generation”.  Yet, as an individual, it is rare to be identified by name.

History always fails to recognize the inconsequential; except, perhaps, by memory of relatives and faded photographs barely remembered in gatherings where old folks once chattered about this or that person whose absence emphasizes the starkness of the inconsequential.

Is that what many of us fear?  Not just about being ignored; and perhaps not even of leaving this world without a mark of recollection; but of being one of the inconsequential within a mass populace of unknown graves, unmarked but for those faded memories of vestiges in whispered conversations once echoing down the forgotten chambers of time.

And of that place where we toiled for a decade or more — where so much time was spent, so much effort and expenditure of labor: The workplace.  Once we are gone, will we even be remembered?  Will a fellow worker say, years hence, “Oh, remember that guy who…?”

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 fear of becoming one of the “inconsequential” is often what makes the Federal or Postal worker pause before considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

But just remember this: There is life after work, and whatever “consequential” work you believe you contributed to the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, there is nothing that cannot be replaced, and the greater consequence of failing to attend to one’s health is what makes for the inconsequential to loom larger with greater consequences down the road.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Footprints in the snow

Snow makes a flashlight irrelevant.  Even without a moon to shine, and of clouds to mask the twinkling stars, somehow the pure whiteness allows for visual acuity.  At dawn, the footprints betray the activity that once was; and the current inactivity shadowed by the early morning yawn makes one wonder: who noticed, and what if I were standing quietly under the elm tree, making myself a part of the stiff objects in the wintry twilight?

It is similar to the Zen query of the Sixties — of a falling tree with no one around, and the pondering: Was there a noise?  And then the rush of activity as the daylight dominates and the darkness recedes and the purity of the blanket of white that once betrayed the footprints in the snow is replaced by human trudging, winds blowing and the mere vestiges that are now only images in one’s memories.

People are born daily, live their lives and die; and like footprints in the snow that appear for a moment in history’s unmentioned footnotes, they disappear with barely a trace but a few words in the obituaries. Oh, try as we may in our futile attempts at being remembered — of graveyards with larger stones; of “memorials” pasted on the back windows of cars; or even of yearly vigils; the fact is that we are mere footprints in the snow.  Yet, what is important is that the footprints did, in fact, once exist, even if the windswept vanishing of once-seen imprints disappear like vapors of steam curling into the midnight sky.

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, it is sometimes like footprints in the snow — you realize that you were once “relevant” in this world and that the Federal Agency once looked upon you as a “valuable member of the team”; but now, you are treated as the windswept footprints that were once clearly visible in the snow, and now no longer.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is the last act before the wind sweeps away the footprints; it is a means of recognizing what is important in life, and to focus upon your health and well-being and to leave behind the footprints in the snow that are so easily forgotten in the hubbub of the world’s daily activity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Happiness Lasting

Can the precipice of elation last for long?  What of contentment — a seemingly “lower-level” joy that pervades and remains for the duration of a season?  Does evidence of its durability depend upon a smile frozen upon one’s face, or can it continue to establish its existence with gleaming eyes and a perpetual grin that seems never to go away?  Is glee in youth different from a winter’s discontent followed by a summer of joy, and does a period of happiness fostered by nostalgia the same as two young lovers who proclaim the currency of an unfettered passion for life?

Modernity celebrates the cult of youth, and it is thus assumed that happiness is the sole possession of those who look and declare youthfulness; but in the end, is it just wasted energy that dissipates because the young have no knowledge of how to handle such emotional turbulence?  What does it mean to “be happy”, and should it ever be considered as a worthwhile “goal” as opposed to a byproduct of a life well lived?

When a person feels elation, should the advice be: Temper it, for such a spectrum of heights will never last and you will find its opposite and negative effect at the end of it all — of dread and dismal desolation.  Or, should one just enjoy it while it exists, and deal with its opposite when it comes about?

Aristotle’s approach of finding the middle ground — of a moderation of temperament and approach to life — may allow for happiness lasting precisely because the height and depths of the spectrum of human emotions are never allowed to consume us.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the idea that happiness lasting can no longer be attained is a pervasive feeling because of the medical condition itself and the effects upon one’s life and career.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS may not be the “solution” to attain happiness, but it can be a process where intermediate goals can be achieved — of what to do during the pendency of one’s medical condition; of how to change careers; of how to attain a sense of stability for the future while attending to one’s own health and well-being.

It is a means to an end, where happiness lasting can be seen in the short-term goal of securing one’s future by filing for, and obtaining, a FERS Disability Retirement annuity before the next set of challenges in life’s fulfillment of changing circumstances must be faced again.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Ideas come in bunches

Like wildflowers, there is something about ideas that have a tendency towards coming in bunches.  And, like wildflowers and ideas, we have a further notion that misfortune, likewise, comes in droves and groupings.

Is that a Law of Nature, or merely an observation that has no logical foundation or factual basis?  Didn’t that neighbor down the street get hit by a car, and at the same time — within a week of such a tragic event — lose his wife and 3 kids?  Wasn’t it Uncle Billy who stepped on a nail, and with a few days had his house burglarized and his dog shot in the process?  And surely we recall that movie star who drank himself silly one night and then mistook a shadow for a stranger when it turned out to be his girlfriend’s best friend who shot him in the arm and then took her own life?

These we all recall; and like Hume’s dictum that causality is nothing more than mere combinations of repetitive occurrences, we fail to recognize the silent workings of events unfolding which quietly and subtly fester in the unknown universe of our own ignorance; and yet, when they come to the fore, we relate one to the other.  But ideas are different; they do, indeed, come in bunches, perhaps because the creative energy lagging behind suddenly realizes that potentiality can be actualized when for all those years they remained as stagnant molecules lost in a world of microscopic insignificance.

So, that being said, here are a bunch of ideas: For Federal and Postal workers who believe that the medical condition suffered cannot be accommodated, why not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  What if you weren’t even aware of such a benefit?  What if the benefit is not widely circulated, never trumpeted and rarely announced?

You have 1 year from the date of separation from service to file, and as it takes a significant amount of time to properly prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, if might be a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — lest the ideas that come in bunches turn out to be bad luck that arrive in groupings; for, in that case, it is certainly time to consider that one’s destiny depends entirely upon actions taken, and not upon ignoring the signs of misfortune that do, indeed, come in bunches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The house next door

It is the one that follows the same comfortable convention for all these many years — of never knowing the intimate details; a wave of the hand every now and again; of fleeting appearances on various days, such as recycling, garbage and the occasional Saturday when the in-laws from out-of-state come to visit on Thanksgiving, or a birthday, or perhaps when a tragedy occurs and the sudden appearance in the driveway that is filled with cars never before seen.

The house next door, or across the street —the neighbor who you do not know, and somehow never got around to knowing, whether because they were latecomers or you were, and the “other” didn’t seem all that willing, friendly or “neighborly” to begin with, and so a settled truce became the daily routine that never altered, never became a problem, and forever became entrenched in the mundaneness of deliberate social avoidance.

We imagine what occurs in the house next door; or, perhaps not at all, except to complain when they’ve made too much noise, let their grass grow beyond the acceptable conventions of normative beliefs (or otherwise in violation of strict codes imposed by the “lawn police” of the local Home-Owner’s Association), or parked one of their cars in front of your house (yes, it is true — that street section in front of your house is actually not your property, and though it may be obnoxious, the house next door has every right to park the car on your side of the street, right in front of your house).

We never know what occurs to the house next door until one day we read about the tragedy in the pages of the obituary in the local paper.  There is a sadness in that very fact; or, perhaps that is the way we have set up this disinterested and alienated society?  Do we prefer to remain ignorant of the goings-on of the house next door?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition forces the preparation and filing of 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, it often feels like living in the house next door — for, suddenly, you find yourself looking at familiar surroundings from across the street, or from beyond the fence that separates, and you begin to wonder whether you ever knew your neighbor, and what they are up to.

There is an alienation involved, and you must always remain suspicious as a “new” car is suddenly seen parked across the street, and the Supervisor or coworker seemed to be sharing information and gossiping with furtive eyes averted from your view; and yes, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service may be getting ready to initiate an adverse action of some sort — like the house next door that you never knew and now would rather not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire