Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The realization

In most cases, it is not as dramatic a moment as we all tend to think; it is rarely “The X”, as in the penultimate juncture of enlightenment where the “The” is prefatory to the noun, as opposed to a more general article such as, “A realization” — meaning, one among others, or just another one amidst many.

Most such moments are not “Aha” ones, where there is a sudden and profound revelation, like the proverbial Road to Damascus experience or the Gestalt shift in thinking.  Instead, the realization of X is more often than not subtle, incremental and a slow progression towards an acknowledgment, observable and quantifiable over a period of many months or years.  Whether we make it into a momentous period, a critical juncture in our lives, or as one of many tokens of change often depends upon how we view each segment that results in a modification of a life judged in its totality.

Aristotle’s belief is that a person’s life cannot be fully evaluated until much later in life.  Indeed, what do we make about a person’s career, reputation and overall “life” when a critical mistake is made at the beginning — say, in the early years of youth when one is more susceptible to the vicissitudes of emotional upheavals and pursuance of desires without thought?  Or, of the fool who, in old age, does something similarly rash?  Do we make an evaluation at the eulogy and excuse the one bad bit?

Something like, “Now, we all knew X.  He was a great man.  He had, of course, that one incident, but …”.  Is it better to have the negative incident occur early in life so that you can rectify and redeem for the remainder?  Or, is it more acceptable and palatable to live an exemplary life, then commit an error in later life so that you can excuse it as the “folly of age”?

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 the Federal or Postal employee’s job and duties, “the realization” that something has to change will mostly come about over a period of time — incrementally, perhaps even subtly, and then one day there is a determination that has to be made that priorities of life need to be reordered and modifications to a life of struggle necessitates modifications.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the necessary next step after such a realization.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application is the natural course of events once the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that change must occur.

Consulting with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is also a good next step — for that points to the realization that not all things in the universe are known, and some things may need some further guidance in pursuit of a gargantuan effort required to go up against a behemoth of a bureaucracy — OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

How much OPM Disability Retirement Pays?

“What will the benefit pay?”  That is often the primary concern of a Federal or Postal employee who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and it is certainly a valid first question.

The greater concern that cannot be overlooked, however, is the one that involves calculating the cost of NOT filing.  In the end, those Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have three fundamental options: Stay put; resign and do nothing (or wait for termination/separation proceedings to occur, which amounts to the same thing); or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

The benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is quite simply calculated as 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year (offset by 100% of any Social Security Disability benefits received during the concurrent payments received) and 40% of the average every year thereafter (offset by 60% of any Social Security Disability payments received during those years), until age 62, at which point the Federal Disability annuity is recalculated as “regular retirement” based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that the disability retiree has been on Federal Disability Retirement.

Thus, the “greater” benefit in calculating the cost has to take into account the fact that one is actually “building up” one’s own retirement by the years one stays on disability retirement — for, those very years that you are receiving a disability retirement annuity count towards the total number of years of Federal Service when it is recalculated as “regular” retirement at the age of 62.

Yes, it is true that on the cost/benefit ledger that one should review before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, you need to take into account the lesser income and the lengthy bureaucratic process that must be engaged, but you should also never forget what the originating basis for considering such filing compelled the consideration in the first place: Your health.

Calculating the cost of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits too often places the emphasis on what is lost — in terms of monetary gain and loss, etc.  But in calculating the cost of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted and considered to and by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the primary issue involves one’s deteriorating health and whether you can continue to remain in a job which has clearly become inconsistent with the medical conditions one is suffering from.

In the end, calculating the cost must go beyond the lessening of income; it must calculate the cost of one’s health, which is the single greatest asset one possesses.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Why we endure

Why, indeed?  We have all come to a point where we have just had it, and want to “chuck it all” in – into what, we often only have an obscure sense, or none at all, but it is the feeling of having reached a pinnacle of despair and those proverbial depths of despondency.  There is, fortunately or unfortunately, no hidden corner or secret room to which we can scurry away to, never to be seen again, remain unnoticed and left without the troubles of the day.

Why do we endure? Because others depend upon us; because to do otherwise would disappoint those we care for; by duty and obligations which compel our actions and form our thoughts; to avoid a sense of guilt; because life isn’t all those doldrums we sometimes complain of, but can sometimes have a spark of sunshine that makes it worthwhile; and for a host of multiple other reasons that we may not think of at this moment, but know to exist because we have continued to endure in the face of challenges and tumults of life that, for some, would constitute that breaking point, but for those still “in the race” and fighting “in the thick” of things (whatever those pithy and inane sayings of trite trollops really mean), we just continue to trudge along.

For some, perhaps the question of “why” never comes up – and like dullards who are happy to remain in the sullenness of life’s garbage pits, ignorant bliss is the best state to be in, while those who constantly complain about the minor irritants of life’s misgivings never stop to smell the roses along the way (there, we have managed to state the penultimate triteness of linguistic pithiness).

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who ask the same question in the face of medical conditions experienced and suffered, it takes on a new meaning when workplace harassment begins to intensify, especially because the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is there precisely in those circumstances such that the “why” is answered when a Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  It is precisely so that the Federal or Postal employee would not have to endure the pain, suffering or the cognitive decline in direct connection and nexus to the essential elements of a Federal or Postal employee’s official position in the Federal or Postal sector, that OPM Disability Retirement benefits are offered and able to be secured.

While filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is a long and arduous bureaucratic process, nevertheless, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is that avenue and course of action that answers the very question we sometimes must ponder and posit: Why we endure?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Options Letter

Options presented in life often depend upon the preparatory avenues previously correlated over months and years in reaching such a point and destination; alternatives and the plenitude of opportunities rarely “just happen”, and like the football team which seemingly seamlessly executes its game plan, the practiced work left unseen behind the scenes is what allows for the openings to occur, both in sports jargon as well as in business life.

Whether the limits of available alternatives are constrained by the apparently known universe, or continue without knowledge, matters little; for, in choosing from a list of openings, one must know the menu before placing an order.  Thus, can a person choose a sixth option when presented with only five?  Or does lack of knowledge and negation of foresight delimit the available resources untapped and unencumbered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, there is often that dreaded “options letter” which the Federal agency or the Postal Service issues, as if the universe of actions to be considered is restrained by the content of the issuance serving the needs of self-interest, and not with concern for the Federal or Postal employee.  Such options presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service are often 3:  Come back to work; seek accommodations; or resign.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has resulted in exhaustion of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and all FMLA benefits, the refusal by the agency or the U.S.P.S. to extend the granting of LWOP is often accompanied by the threat of sanctions, punitive actions and placement of the Federal or Postal employee upon AWOL status.

The options presented are thus onerous and unreasonable; for, as Option 1 is untenable (the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming back, and the agency and the U.S. Postal services knows this, as otherwise Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA would not have been unnecessarily exhausted), and Option 2 (seek accommodations) is somewhat of a “given”, it is Option 3 (resignation) which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service hope and expect the Federal or Postal employee to initiate.

Such an option allows for the least amount of thought and effort by the Federal agency, and it is this expectation, along with the threat of placing the Federal or Postal employee with imposition of AWOL status, that often wins.  But are there other options besides the ones presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service? Perhaps.  But as life’s choices are revealed only through knowledge and wisdom, it is the one who seeks the avenues of counsel who discovers that universes besides the insular one within the parameters of the Milky Way portend of other life on planets yet undiscovered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Blowing in the Wind

Of course, the reference recognized unmasks the age or generation from whence one comes, and the formal wording without the apostrophe is to allow spellcheck a rest and curtail the red underline.  It is the 1962 Dylan song, representing questions unanswered, answers made complex by society, and sought-after refrains which defy conformity.

Where is the answer to be found, and what can the wind represent?  Can Cliffs Notes Study Guides provide for a true education?  Or like chimpanzees in a beauty contest besides kids of comparable intelligence, is it merely regurgitation of rote memory, or some semblance of sociological dementia?  As the wind is ungraspable, and embraces and engulfs voices shouting and demanding, so the questions asked and the answers given are as ephemeral as the shifting streams of consciousness.

Nature has a way of humbling, of letting us know that though we aspire to become angels who can fly with knowledge and necromancy, with waving wands and cauldrons of witch’s brew in feeble attempts of arrogance and self-puffing, the reality is that our knowledge is limited, our capacity for growth is stunted, and the self-imposed mediocrity we generally follow reflects the tiredness of a man’s soul.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, questions always abound, and answers sought are often disjointed and contradictory.

If there is an area of knowledge which needs to be precise, it is of “the law”, as people rely upon information certainty, and lack of knowledge and answers which blow in the wind merely confuse and confound.  The test of reliance should always be based upon a systematic history of sound judgment and accurate discourse.  Does the source provide reliable information?  Does it appear cogent, comprehensive and of common sense?

Filing 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, can be a daunting first step, for it means a change in one’s life, a step into another direction, and a leap of faith for an uncertain future.  There will always be questions to be answered, but one should never consider demanding answers to those queries via Dylan’s methodology of asking the shiftings winds of Nature, but by searching out a reliable source in this indeterminate universe of questions asked, and answers unforgiven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire