OPM Disability Retirement: In a Perfect World & Secondary Constructs

In a perfect world, one can propose a hypothetical construct where efficiency of service occurs without thought; where administrative processes are available without glitches or unforeseen hazards; and where the workplace environment is daily supportive and sensitive to the needs of injured and disabled workers.  But of course the corollary of such a construct is that, if indeed a perfect world existed, then much of the world which is established to combat, prevent and counteract the imperfect world would have no need to exist.

It is similar to the problem of those in philosophy who attempt to argue as follows:  How do we know that the world before us is not merely a dream? The answer:  The very reason why we can distinguish between dreams and reality, is presumably because we must first acknowledge the reality of the world; dreams are secondary; the mistake we make is when we make that which is primary into a secondary construct.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee who is engaging the services of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management should be well aware that they are not entering a perfect world.  This is a world of administrative nightmares; of expected denials and delays; and further, a world which is neither sensitive to, nor recognizably aware of, the underlying human suffering which accompanies each and every Federal Disability Retirement packet.

Further, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement case, it is important to keep the essential elements of a Federal Disability Retirement application in a streamlined, focused presentation; otherwise, if you present the argument as a dream-like world, you will get a return response in a nightmarish fashion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Holidays

The “holidays” — or any respite from the daily treadmill of the repetitive reality of daily living — brings about realizations and gestalt moments of insight, precisely because such moments provide for opportunities of thoughtful reflection.

The modern approach of engaging in conversations and discussion for purposes of “value clarifications” became necessary when a tension occurred within society; where new ideas began to question and challenge the old; when habitual engagements of societal values, ethics and mores began to be undermined by revolutionary approaches, technological advances, and unrestrained actions by youthful movements of protestations and revolts.  Similarly, when time and opportunity allows for reflection and contemplation, certain realizations begin to surface.

For Federal and Postal employees who have been suffering from various medical conditions, whether chronic physical pain which limits movement, flexion and unsustainable capabilities of endurance; or psychiatric conditions which impact focus, concentration, and the ability to engage in cognitive-intensive work; the time of the “holidays” can be a challenge, where it provides for an opportunity to take some time off to rest those tired bones; but also a time of reflection to recognize and realize that one cannot remain on the same treadmill forever.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which needs to be considered, precisely because it is not an “opting out of life”.  Rather, it is a means of downsizing, recognizing that one’s medical condition is preventing one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, and to seek a change of venue for the future.

The “holidays” are indeed a time for reflection; but reflection, if allowed without subsequent action, is an impotent moment of self-realization.  Be a rebel; grab the opportunity if presented.  That is what the holidays are ultimately for — to reflect and change course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: OWCP & the Short Sale

Americans are often looked upon as short-sighted.  Lacking historical longevity, both in terms of an enduring civilization as well as culture, the economic, mercantile (some would say ‘mercenary’), materialistic approach of the American Way lends itself to criticism for the emphasized focus upon short-term gain and profit.

For those questioning whether or not a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, in comparison with compensation received or being received through the Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (FECA), would be beneficial, may be suffering from the American-Way syndrome — of viewing the higher pay alone and in a vacuum, without considering the superior benefits of the longer view of life.

Indeed, under an annuity from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, one may continue to receive the Federal Disability Retirement annuity, and yet work and receive income on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity, up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal job currently pays.  Under OWCP, of course, one cannot work while receiving temporary total disability payments.

Further, it is important to understand that the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement counts towards the total number of years of Federal service, so that when it converts to regular retirement at age 62, all those years on Federal Disability Retirement are counted.

Short term sale or long term goals and benefits?

Whether lacking in culture, history or an enduring civilization, it is always beneficial to review the present, in order to plan for the future.  Short sales often sell one short, and that is something which the Federal and Postal employee must take into account in preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Time and Clarity

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, two primary elements must be shown:  A.  That one suffers from a medical condition such that the medical disability prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and B.  That the medical condition will last for a minimum of twelve (12) months.  This second part of the requirement — the 12 month period — can bring about some interesting issues.

Despite the simplicity of what it requests in terms of information, the issue is often confused and confusing.  Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will often wonder whether one has to be “out of work” for a period of 12 months before even filing (somewhat similar to SSDI, where one must be out of work for a specified period of time) — but that is not what the statute requires.  What is required is merely that the medical condition must have a duration of at least 12 months, and so a prognosis should suffice — i.e., if the medical condition suffered has lasted for 5 months, say, and the doctor provides a prognosis that it will continue for a minimum of 2 – 3 more years, and perhaps permanently, that should satisfy the legal requirement of a medical condition lasting for a minimum of 12 months.

On the other hand, when the doctor states that it has lasted since X date and will be a “permanent” condition, that should also satisfy the legal requirement.  However, OPM will often fail to comprehend what “permanent” means, and will deny a case based upon the fact that the “12 month period” has not been met.

Further, the issue of “when” a medical condition began is an interesting one, because if one goes too far back, then that may show that despite the medical condition, the Federal or Postal employee has been able to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  The question is thus not one of “when the medical condition began”; rather, the question is one of “when did the medical condition prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.”

Clarity is the key, always, and when one is dealing with Claims Specialists at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management who are reading multiple files day after day, and confusing and confounding one with the other, making certain that the medical reports, legal arguments and Applicant’s Statement of Disability are clearly and concisely delineated, will help to guide OPM to a proper and successful decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Government Employees: The Duration of a Medical Condition

In being eligible for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity from the Office of Personnel Management, one of the basic criteria which must be met for eligibility determination is that a medical condition, its symptomatologies and impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, must last for a minimum of 12 months.  

As a practical matter, the medical condition normally lasts for much longer, and is quite often a chronic, progressively deteriorating condition.  If the medical condition is expected to last for a short period of time, then the Federal or Postal employee must seriously consider whether filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is “worth it”, inasmuch as it often takes 8 – 10 months to obtain an approval from the Office of Personnel Management for the First Stage of the process.  

As such, for most Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, there is an implicit acknowledgement and understanding the the medical condition itself is one of chronicity, debilitating in nature, and often progressively deteriorating.  

The fact that a medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months, however, does not mean that a Federal or Postal employee should wait for the 12 months to pass before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  That would, upon reflection, be a cruel absurdity — to have to wait for 12 months, then to file and wait about 10 months before the Office of Personnel Management makes a decision, and all of this, only at the First Stage of the process. No — the legal standard is that the medical condition must be “expected” to last a minimum of 12 months; meaning, thereby, that a doctor can normally make a reasonable prognosis as to the duration, chronicity and future behavior of the medical condition; and this can normally be accomplished soon after the identification of a particular medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire