Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The title reference, of course, is to the old Spielberg film concerning contact with an alien being; but such a remote, rare and unique experience need not be with an entity from another galaxy or planet, but can be closer to home.

Most people will never need to experience engagement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM Division of Disability, Reconsiderations and Appeals, in order to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (whether under FERS or CSRS), leaving aside having to file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

But when the Federal or Postal employee finds him/herself in such a unique situation such that contact with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or the MSPB becomes necessary, such an experience will be as peculiar and strange an an encounter of the “third kind”.  Moreover, the experience itself may be an unwanted and unpleasant one, because it is something accomplished and pursued while experiencing a personal crisis involving a medical condition.

The encounter itself — however strange, unpleasant or unwanted — nevertheless is a reality which must be dealt with, and in so doing, it should be done in as efficient a manner as possible.

In an initial encounter with an alien being, one would assume that there might be some trepidation and reluctance, mixed with a great amount of suspicion.  That would be natural.  In a similar encounter with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to also have a healthy dose of skepticism; better yet, you might want to contact an expert who has had some past experience in dealing with the entity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Unknown

Irrational fears reflect the extent of human imagination, and the creative capacity of the human species to engage in fantasies.  For, in the animal kingdom distinct from civilization, the ability to survive depends upon accurately assessing real-time dangers and impending surroundings and circumstances; to go after imaginary ones merely exhausts the reserves needed to battle against real dangers.

That is why the virtual world of modern video games is so detrimental to the proper development of children; experts miss the real point:  the world of make-believe is more exciting than the objective world we live in — witness which is preferable, real time deer hunting (a monotonous adventure at best), or being able to shoot at will at a video arcade.  But it is ultimately the unknown which haunts and stresses most.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must contend with the real issues of a debilitating medical condition, the unknown of one’s future; the unknown of the reaction of one’s agency; the unknown of when and what decision will be rendered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is never as exciting as the virtual world of the video arcade, or as depicted in the privacy of sitting at one’s personal computer.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is oftentimes a surreal experience; but it is never like a video game, because there are real-life consequences which result from the action, just as the medical condition itself is a reality which cannot be avoided, unlike the switch from virtual-reality to objective-reality, with the push of a button of one’s PC.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Pragmatism & Angst

Pragmatism is a peculiarly “American” brand of philosophical outlook and approach; unique because it reflects the character and personality of the general population, of looking at things not in terms of understanding it, attempting to discern the underlying essence beneath the qualities and appearances; rather, to look upon success in terms of workability.

To that extent, the European sense of “angst” is often missing in the American character, because there is amiss a sense of struggling over knowledge concerning the substance of a thing.  Such an approach brings to fore the reputation that Americans are merely celebrated merchants, coming to the marketplace to trade and barter, with nothing profound to say or add.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one can ruminate over the potentialities which lead to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application to an extent where one become paralyzed by the possibility.  At some point in the process, pragmatism must trump the angst.  Too many self-corrections can lead to immobility and paralysis of thought and action.  Perhaps there does not exist the “perfect word” or “complete sentence” which adequately describes one’s physical pain, mental confusion, or the nexus which describes how one cannot perform one’s job.  It is likely that no one at OPM will ever fully comprehend the terrible ordeal which the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant is going through.

While many are immigrants from the “old country”, the great thing about arriving to the “new country” is that the angst which once was, is now left behind.  Sometimes, it is time to become pragmatic, and simply file.  Most things can be further supplemented and amended at a later date.  That is the beauty of America — of having second chances over and over again.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Medical Condition and Fear

Fear is an emotion which is often overwhelming, uncontrollable, and yet an innate, inherent necessity for survival.  It possesses a purposeful essence — it warns the human condition, alerts the person, and heightens the senses to become aware of one’s surroundings and potential foreboding of events.  But fear can also have a negative, deleterious effect:  one which paralyzes and overtakes the rational side of a person.

In this day and age, fear in the context of a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to survive in an economy which is becoming less and less empathetic, is itself something which feeds upon itself.  When a medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee, and the effects of the medical condition upon one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job begins to manifest itself, a growing sense of fear begins to arise, precisely because the medical condition is not only attacking one’s physical well-being, but also one’s ability to provide for one’s family.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the length of time it takes to undergo the administrative process, from beginning to end, must be taken into account, then multiplied by a “reality factor”.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is oblivious to the fear factor, and proceeds in its bureaucratic fashion without regard to the human condition.

Starting early, planning early, and filing as soon as possible is the pragmatic solution, if at all possible.  But, above all, it is important to do it well, properly, and effectively.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It may seem antithetical to talk about the psychiatric condition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in filing for Federal Disability Retirements benefit under FERS or CSRS, especially during the Holidays — but, in fact, the analogy with the high stress which many Federal and Postal workers feel because of Christmas, New Years & other holidays is especially relevant.  

Let me elaborate.  Such a time period as “The Holidays” in fact often brings greater stresses in a person’s life — for it is precisely a time when one is “supposed” to feel joyous, when in fact an individual’s internal, personal turmoil may contradict the outward appearance which one manifests.  Such a combination — of the high level of stress one is experiencing, at a particular time (the Holidays), may be considered a “situational” psychiatric condition, because (hopefully) it will subside once the time-period passes.

This is a good way to understand what distinguishes between a “situational disability” (which is disallowed in Federal Disability Retirement applications under either FERS or CSRS) and “non-situational disabilities” (which are viable medical conditions pervading all aspects of one’s life, regardless of time or situation).  

The Office of Personnel Management will often attempt to characterize the psychiatric condition of Generalize Anxiety Disorder as one of merely “situational occurrence” — i.e., of being particularized and categorized as occurring only within the confines of a particular department, a particular workplace situation, or a period of time when a specific supervisor or coworker is present (sort of like occurring during the Holidays).  But Generalized Anxiety Disorder, properly diagnosed by a treating physician, is rarely, if ever, situational, and in fact is a serious psychiatric condition which qualifies for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

Do not let the Office of Personnel Management fool you; Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a viable psychiatric medical condition, especially if it pervades all aspects of your life, and it prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your job as a Federal or Postal employee under either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire