OPM Medical Retirement: Holding on

The sense of belonging — of the attraction of the communal hearth — is a powerful draw, and prevents many from traveling too far from the proverbial oak tree.  The inherent contradiction, for Americans, is the paradigm of the rugged individual, and the concomitant idea that this country was and is different precisely because of the type of individuals and individualism which formed the basis of this community we call country.

But times change.  Change itself is a concept which engenders fear, loathing, and angst beyond mere discomfort.  Habituation and repetitive comfort can be derived merely in the methodological constancy of the mundane. Being comfortable and seeking human comfort is not a crime, and is often the telos of career choices. It is when that second step of the dialectical process intercedes and interrupts, however, that the discomfiture of disruption creates havoc and one’s life can go awry.

The thesis is the life lived; the antithesis is the condition of interruption or disruption; and the synthesis is that which is potentially to be, but now not yet known.  So goes the Hegelian dialectical process.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker whose career has fortunately been gliding upon a linear path, and from start to career’s finish, a relatively smooth ride has been enjoyed, the blessing of such a continuum is one of mundane and delicious success.  But for the Federal employee or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the possibility that one’s chosen career may need to be interrupted, is indeed a hearth-wrecking event.

Determining whether or not filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a necessity, is a hard choice; knowing what the choices are, while limited and finite and therefore easily discernible, can nevertheless remain a conundrum but for good advice and counsel which can be objectively assessed and conveyed.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement can be a two-edged sword: on the one hand, the mere existence of the benefit reminds us of our vulnerability and mortality; on the other hand, it is a benefit to be accessed when needed, and the need is based upon a legal criteria which must be proven to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and such need allows for an out from the quandary of one’s medical conditions.

The draw of the hearth is indeed a powerful one; one’s organization, agency or Federal department can be considered a hearth of sorts, especially when one has expended so much time and effort in building one’s Federal career. But when the embers of warmth begin to fade, and the winds of winter blow the chilling parabola of a future reflected, consideration must be given for change, and change may require the embracing of an antithesis in order to build a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Comparative Refractions and CSRS/FERS Medical Disability Retirement

The optical effect of refracted light when it passes through an altering medium is that of a changed phenomenon.  One can engage in an activity which we all enjoy: of comparative analysis before and after, or in parallel evaluation; and just as we determine life’s compass of success or failure by looking at other lives, so the refracted light provides a symbolism of comparative satisfaction or dissatisfaction, as the case may be.

Changes of perspectives allow for a sudden and new awareness previously unknown; sometimes, the cocoon of the limited universe we have chosen will be a comfort zone and a security blanket which we are content to remain in; but then a crisis occurs — one which may be disproportionately viewed, given the relative antiseptic life we have created — and the difficulty of dealing with the change is reflected like the optical alteration of refracted light.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition which begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s duties as a Federal or Postal Worker, this phenomenon is well-known, familiar, and often challenging.

Medical conditions constitute a crisis of being, precisely because they necessitate a change and potentially a wholesale reconstitution of one’s life:  Work, which often involves more than a third of one’s time and life; family, which is impacted by the difference in income; and self, because one’s identity is so intimately tied to one’s work. Who we are; what we represent; where we are going; how we are going to get there: all are impacted.

That is why filing for Federal disability retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is so important. It allows for a period of respite and interlude in order to reorganize and coordinate.  It allows for a time of attending to the medical condition; of securing a base annuity upon which to survive; and creates an atmosphere of positive thinking for the future.

As nature provides guidance of life, so the refracted light hints at a manner of dealing with problems in life.  For the Federal and Postal Worker, reflecting upon refraction may be the first important step in recognizing this guiding principle.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Perspectives, Altered and Static

Medical conditions have a way of changing one’s perspective; the daily outlook of merely taking ordinary things for granted reverts to an ongoing sense of appreciation for the mundane.  Even to be pain-free for a few moments may seem like an utopian state of blissful enlightenment.  The ordinary becomes the miraculous, and the order of priorities for others may become inversely reorganized.  But the problem remains for the world at large whose perspective has not been impacted by such alterations.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is suddenly confronted with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the Agency, the Supervisor, coworkers, the U.S. Postal Service, etc., may not (and one can more forcefully predict, “does not”) share that change of perspective.

Pausing to smell the flowers may be fine for some, but not while in the same room as the Supervisor who sneers at such folly.  Such altered perspectives may need the mundane remedy of a legal response; and, ultimately, if filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is the option to pursue, because the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, then such a course of action should be initiated as soon as practicable.

Not everyone shares a change of perspective; and, indeed, the Federal or Postal employee who has an altered perspective should recognize that he or she once resided in the exclusive club from which expulsion and ex-communication is now imminent.  The static nature of the ordinary will always dominate; it is the extraordinary which remains in the minority, as history has always proven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Stark Reality

Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher who recognized the imposition of human categories, structures and conceptual perspectives upon the stark reality of the world around us.  Within such levels of an uniquely human perspective, we shape the barren reality and impose our perceptual constructs.

It is not something we have any choice in; by being uniquely human, we see the world in a human way, thereby bringing to it a comprehension and order which our species can embrace, just as other animals may encounter the world from its own unique perspective.  Thus, the world according to Kant became one of bifurcation — between the “noumenal” world which was unfiltered and unknowable, and the phenomenal world of our own “making”.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must always keep in mind the two parallel universes — the one which we hope for and often “make”, and the one in which we must survive.

When a medical condition impacts a person’s life to such an extent that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the phenomenal world of our making may include:  Hope that the Federal agency will treat us fairly; hope that the medical condition may improve or go away; hope that one’s work will not suffer as a consequence.  But in the stark reality of the noumenal world, one must recognize the unknowable:  Agencies rarely show a sense of sustained loyalty; medical conditions being what they are, will often remain on a steady course of debilitating progressivity; and one’s medical condition almost always impacts the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Walking about with a uniquely human perspective is something which we cannot help; gliding through life with self-deceptions is something which, while also uniquely human, one cannot afford to engage in for too long.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Basis of the Decision

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the basis of decision-making — whether from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, or from the Agency in determining actions, potential actions, etc., once they learn about an employee’s intentions; and finally, the decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — can be varied and multiple; but ultimately, all such decisions come down to the validity and force of the information upon which such a decision is made.

Thus, the source and reliability of such information is what is paramount in properly influencing the decision-making process.

For the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the widespread complexity of the variegated information must be prioritized:  the extent of the support of the treating doctor; the ability to wait the process out; the financial and economic considerations; the options of whether it is even feasible to remain at a job whose duties require capabilities beyond consistency with one’s deteriorating medical condition; whether in comparison to any “early out” offer which the agency may be making (or perhaps none at all), disability retirement is the better option, etc.  From the Agency’s viewpoint, what extent of loyalty is owed?  Does the Supervisor have the discretionary fortitude to keep the employee on extended LWOP?  And many other decisions to be made.  From OPM’s viewpoint:  Are the elements of the law met?  How compelling a case is it?  And hopefully:  Is this lawyer going to be a headache for us?

Decisions of every and any kind are based upon the efficacy of the source behind such making; thus, the first and foremost basis of a good decision, is to make the best decision of gathering reliable information in order to decide the best course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Case Development

Federal Disability Retirement is one of those areas of law where countervailing forces are always at play, and the tug-of-war against time, resistance of individuals to respond, all within a context of a hectic-pace of life, create for a havoc of systems and regularity.

Because the underlying basis of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often involves a chronic, progressively deteriorating medical condition, it is often seen from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee to be an emergency; from the viewpoint of the medical doctor whose support for the case is critical, because the opinion of the doctor is essential to formulating the foundation of a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is often seen as another administrative burden; from the Agency’s vantage point, the alleged patience over the years which it has shown in “dealing” with loss of time, less-than-stellar performance, etc., often results in a reactionary adversity of being entirely unsympathetic to the plight of the Federal or Postal employee; and, together, all of the strands of these multiple countervailing forces places an undue pressure upon the entire process.  Yet, once it gets to the Office of Personnel Management, the file sits…and sits.

The long-term perspective on every Federal Disability Retirement application must always be to accept the fact that case development is the most important point to ponder.  Quickly filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, may in the end prove to be pound-foolish, especially in a retrospective, Monday-night quarterbacking sense, if OPM denies the case anyway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Content & Substance

Form, Content & Substance.  Form is the appearance and the general approach & methodology of a Federal Disability Retirement packet; Content is the essence of that which makes up the materials in the packet; and Substance (hopefully) is the “meat” of the packet itself.  Make sure that what is stated is substantive.  

OPM Representatives have multiple cases.  From the perspective of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, it is a singular case, because it is one’s own case, and the personal nature of such a case makes it of paramount importance.  From the perspective of the OPM Representative, however, it is one of multiple cases, and it is part of his or her job.  If one has to wade through a generous amount of fluff before getting to the content of the Federal Disability Retirement application, the energy expended may be a distraction from a serious review of the substantive content.  A descriptive narrative bridging the medical condition with the type of job one performs is a necessary component; but as between a concise short story and a novella, the former is to be preferred in preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire