FERS Disability Retirement: Life as a Series of Problems

There are television series; of “mini-series”; of a series of movie episodes once popularity of the first viewing has established the call for a following.

In television and theatrical drama, there has to be an opportunity for “character development” — of getting to “know” a person, of seeing him or her in various contexts in order to determine “who” a person is by what they do, how they react and the very essence of their belief-systems.  Rarely is a play, a story or a novel of any interest when it involves a person or multiple individuals sitting around expounding upon their beliefs or “principles” of life, and why is that?  Is it because a person who talks without being tested can offer nothing more than the sound of air?

The movie of life always presents us with a series of problems; that is what makes a good story, of course — of conflicts, their resolution; the way in which individuals are “tested”, and not merely by hypothetical presentations of analytical problem-solving gestures.

Medical conditions — whether later in life or occurring earlier— always present a challenge that tests a person in so many ways, precisely because medical issues hit at the core of everything about a person: How we see ourselves; what we are able to do; where we go and seek guidance and counsel; and all of the multitude of reverberating effects upon so many varied aspects of our lives.

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, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is just one of life’s series of problems.

It is never a guarantee; it is never a “sure thing”; and as OPM appears to be denying more FERS Disability Retirement cases under this Administration than ever before, it is important to prepare and formulate a plan for a Federal Disability Retirement application and to recognize it as another slice of life’s problems in a series of such problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: That cup of tea

It is the symbol of a quieter life; of a pastoral time of past remembrances, where the slower pace accorded a tranquility now lost forever.  It is referred to in many of William Trevor’s short stories — of that time in England when people still sat around and had “that cup of tea”.  For, somehow, the notion of fine china, the curling wisps of winding steam and the aroma of warmth and comfort retain a resonance of civility, quietude and the sentiment of calmer times.

Coffee, on the other hand, betrays a greater americanism — of forging ahead, forever seeking progress and movement, a person on steroids who cannot take the time, will not, and in fact has no time for the silliness of having that cup of tea.  That is why coffee is taken on the road, in plastic or styrofoam cups; in mugs and sturdy, thick jugs; whether plain, with a bit of milk and with or without sugar.

The two represent different times; of lifestyles gone and replaced; of civility and crudity.  Starbucks and others have tried to gentrify the cup of coffee, of course, and to create different “Internet cafes” with sophisticated-sounding names for lattes, “XY-Americano” or some similar silly-sounding names; but in the end it is the bit of coffee painted with a lipstick on the pig, and it remains the shot of coffee that provides the taste.

People are like that; and we all reminisce about times past, of “good old days” and for some, we miss that cup of tea.  For the greater society, the two contrasting flavors of a drink represent a bifurcation of sorts: One, for a kind of life we long for; the other, the reality within which we find ourselves.

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 distinction between the cup of tea and the mug of coffee is like a metaphor of one’s own circumstances: the body and mind requires that cup of tea; the reality that swirls around demands the mug of coffee.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is perhaps the antidote to the growing problem.  While it may not be every person’s cup of tea, it is something that — given the environment of the Federal Agency and the Postal Service in requiring every worker to act like a caffein-induced maniac — may medically indicate a change from the coffee-centered culture that cannot sit even for a brief moment to enjoy that distant reverberation of fine china clinking amidst the calm of a quiet morning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Presumptuous Act

What would we say about a person who, having bought a lottery ticket, goes out and spends lavishly, quits his job and becomes indebted far beyond his means — all prior to the day when the “winning numbers” are declared?  We would consider that he or she is: Crazy; irresponsible; or, perhaps, has some “insider knowledge” that we are not privy to.

Most acts lack a presumptuous intent; many, merely of thoughtless motivations; and rarely but some, of such egregiously bold-faced assault upon common decency that we disbelieve and attempt to substitute some rationally-based justification to explain away the presumptuousness of such an act.  Would our opinion of such a person — the one who buys a lottery ticket, then quits his or her job and proceeds to spend lavishly while abandoning all “reasonable” displays of conventional wisdom — change if additional facts were to be posited?

How about: The doctor has given him 30 days to live, and when we ask the person about the lottery ticket, the response is: “Oh, I don’t expect to win; it is just a metaphor for my life’s prognosis”.  Would such a response change our opinion; for, no longer is the person “crazy”; perhaps somewhat “irresponsible” in that the debts left behind will still have to be paid by someone; but yes, we would likely lean towards the third option in our thought processes: that the “insider knowledge” was the very private knowledge held close to his or her heart: Mortality suddenly betrays careful living, and abandonment of conventional lifestyles is a natural consequence of having nothing left to lose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer a similar (but perhaps not quite as devastating a scenario) situation like that of the hypothetical individual noted above, the “presumptuous act” that others may deem so may not be so outlandish as one may first assume.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not quite like the example above, but often, some see it as such; for, to “give up” a well-paying job, a reliable career or a secure position in the Federal System is certainly a drastic situation; and the alternative may not allow for much of a choice: To remain and suffer, and continue to deteriorate until one’s body or emotional state has been so damaged as to suffer through life for the rest of one’s allotted time on earth; to ignore that is indeed the height of presumptuousness — of taking things for granted.

Health should be a priority, and preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not a presumptuous act; rather, its opposite is what presumes too much — that your health will continue to withstand the deteriorating condition that you have all along experienced for these many years.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Deviating and adapting

How does one deviate or adapt, if one is approaching something anew?

Such concepts as modifying or altering a methodology presumes that one has encountered the process before, and thus it stands to reason that a person who has never previously experienced something before can hardly be expected to provide new insights when the experience itself is new to the individual.  That is why we often refer to a person’s ability and capacity to “think on his or her feet” — meaning, to quickly encompass and adapt to new and fluid circumstances, despite a lack of familiarity with an onslaught of speedy changes.

Deviating, of course, can be a negative component, in that it may imply altering from a true-and-tested course of action, and unless one is certain of one’s confidence in a new path taken, there may ensue disastrous consequences when following a rebellious path that can lead to the unknown.  Many a trailblazer who knew not the way of the unbeaten path have perished by starvation or thirst.

On the other hand, we consider the capacity and ability of “adapting” to be a positive characteristic, in that it implies a characteristic of being able to respond to external circumstances that are changing, and requires a willingness to bend with the winds of change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual concept of deviating and adapting comes to the fore precisely because of the need to change — both on the Agency/Postal Service’s side, as well as from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, the issue of deviating and adapting comes about in terms of “accommodation” — for, it is necessary for the Federal Agency and the Postal Service, by force of law, to “deviate” from the former ways of behaving, and to “adapt” to the medical conditions and changes that the Federal or Postal employee is undergoing.

From the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal employee, deviating and adapting may encompass a wide range of issues in terms of accommodations — whether the situation and conditions posed are temporary or permanent by nature; whether the medical conditions suffered are able to be accommodated at all, either temporarily or permanently; and whether attendance is an issue; of how much SL must be taken; of FMLA issues and extensions of LWOP beyond, etc.

In the end, deviating and adapting from the “norm” may not be possible, in which case preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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, may become necessary.

For all Federal and Postal employees, what is important to remember is that suffering from a progressively deteriorating medical condition will require deviating and adapting, and that may include the need to have expert legal guidance by an attorney who has previously had the experience in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that any and all deviations and adaptations can be initiated from the perspective of previous experience, and not as a trailblazer off of the beaten path where getting lost in the complexities of Federal Disability Retirement Laws can lead to disastrous results.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The buttons we believe accomplish

We believe, on faith alone, that pushing a button does the deed; and then we go on with life, and nothing really has changed but the belief in our own self-satisfaction.  It is that virtual world of computers, light switches, garage door openers and even the disc-like appendages to our shirts and sweaters that lead us to conclude that all such contraptions are of equal weight and value.

We see the cause-and-effect of the garage-door opener — of pushing a button and seeing the door slide open, then another push and it reverses course.  We push buttons on the computer keyboard, and with each tap the screen changes, or concludes with the deed completed; and of “buttons” on a shirt or sweater, we appreciate the invention that holds two sides of a separated apparel together to enclose our bodies with a warmth of a material embrace.

What does it mean to accomplish a deed with a mere pushing of a button?

We have been habituated into such thinking, and it is this disconnectedness that allows for society to continue to move “as if”.  It is only when we encounter the counter – belief that all of a sudden the world of buttons begins to sow some seeds of doubt — as when the boss comes and says, “Why haven’t you sent me X” and you respond, “I emailed it to you last week “ (it isn’t quite the same to say, “I pushed the button that accomplished the deed”).  “But I never got it” is the response which prompts you to go back and re-press the button, hoping somehow that doing so a second time will make a difference that the first time did not.

This time, however, just to be doubly sure, you go back and ask your boss whether he received it (not, again, “did my second button-pushing work?”), thus verifying the causal connection that had failed to occur previously.

What made the difference?

Somehow, in the ethereal universe of circuitry and magic we have no clues about, there exists a causal chain that “works” and “accomplishes” deeds — just like the garage-door opener that issues an immediate gratification of causation.  But that all of life would allow for such instantaneous confirmation — and of buttons we think accomplish.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates a consideration to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the buttons we need to push are many, varied, and long in waiting.

Whether they comprise of the metaphorical “buttons” to get people moving, or of emails that need to be sent, confirmations that require a response — what we do know, throughout, is that the reality of one’s medical condition has a discernible difference both of reality and of urgency when it comes upon the need for causation to occur.

The buttons we think accomplish remain somehow in that “other world” of magic and the unknown; the medical condition that remains is somehow the reality of the “now” that constitutes pain and suffering; and that is why preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is of greater importance than the buttons we believe accomplish.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire