OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Factors to consider

The universe of thoughtful decision-making shrinks exponentially and in direct correlation with the pertinent and relevant information gathered, and it is too often the case that factors not considered are the very ones which lead to a non-decision or, more importantly, to a wrong conclusion.

What factors should be considered when a Federal or Postal employee is going to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Certainly, age can be a factor — for, if OPM engages in a recalculation of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity at age 62, and you are fast approaching that age, the factor of “how long it takes” to get an OPM Disability Retirement approved (about a year, give or take a few months on either side of the equation); whether you get any backpay once it is approved (back to the last day your Agency or the Postal Service has paid you anything); and whether the time you are on Federal Disability Retirement counts towards your total number of years accrued until the recalculation age at 62 (it does) — should all be factors to consider.

Further, even if you are still relatively young, should those same factors be considered?  The short answer is an unequivocal “yes” — and probably many others, besides, including: Do I intend on working at another job in the private sector while on Federal Disability Retirement?  Do I have Service-Connected disabilities that can play a factor [sic] in the factors to be considered?

The universe of factors to consider in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, are innumerable; and then, there are likely factors that you have not even considered, but which may be prompted by consulting with an attorney who has already considered multiple factors besides, and who may be able to guide you in this complex process called “OPM Disability Retirement”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Time wasted

It all depends upon one’s perspective, doesn’t it?  For some, watching television is time wasted; for others, reading a novel, and even within that subset of opinions and viewpoints, it often depends upon “what” you are reading before the hammer of judgement is struck: If a beach-time novel, then it is a waste of time; if a classic, then you are utilizing your time wisely.

But what if you are, in fact, sitting on the beach enjoying the lazy lapping of waves, and merely want to get lost in the fantasy of a junk novel — isn’t relaxation a good use of one’s time?  When does “constructive” relaxation turn into time wasted — i.e., laziness?  Is it when the bare necessities of life are no longer attended to?

Of that proverbial brother in-law or other distant relation who is whispered about, who barely holds on to a job, is found spending more time at the corner pub than attending to one’s kids, or the one who constantly oversleeps, overstays his welcome or overstates his woes — is it just a guy who likes to relax, or is he a lazy bum?

Is there a mathematical formula in determining when time is well spent doing nothing, or is wasted?   Sort of like: Time multiplied by the extent of bare necessities required divided by the extent of need, minus particular circumstances that must be taken into account factored by 3.

Can a lifetime be wasted, and if so, what would be the criteria to be applied or imposed?  A wealthy person might contend: We have about 60 years or so to make our fortunes, and if a person has not done so within that timeframe, it is a lifetime wasted.  Some others might counter with: Amassing wealth is not the sole criteria of a worthwhile life; the fostering of human relationships, of making someone else more comfortable, or of even granting a dog some happiness, is what makes this life a worthy one.

Does a medical condition bring about a differing perspective?  For the wealthy person who makes enemies throughout and angers almost everyone with his or her single-minded focus while disregarding the feelings of all else, but who suddenly is hit with deteriorating health — does time take on a different meaning?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — is time being wasted by the struggle itself?  Does it appear that everything is an uphill struggle: of juggling doctor’s appointments, work, family obligations, etc.?

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not be the best solution of all, but it may be the most prudent one, as time is not a friend to be wasted when it comes to one’s health and future security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: Feelings

There are appropriate contexts within which to consider them, as well as places, insertions, events and conversational modalities where it is partly or entirely irrelevant; but as with most things in life, the boundaries that bifurcate are not always clear and distinct.  When one is considering purely subjective circumstances, it is clearly the “appropriate” moment — of personal relationships; of a vacation to be taken; of emotions being considered.

In a court of law, it is probably not the best approach to take with a judge; although, in the sentencing phase or the “damages” argument to be made to a jury, it may be the singular force of persuasive impact that makes not only the distinction unclear, but the decision quite the decisive edge.

“Feelings” are to be reserved for puppies, late nights in bed with a fever, and how the toes tickle when lying on a grassy knoll in the middle of summer when the lone ant walks along the pathway of your bare skin.

Do we dare admit to them?  When you are in a heated argument, is it not an oxymoron to shout, “Feelings don’t have anything to do with it!”  For, what is the criteria to be applied when making a decision based upon them?  Does the spectrum of emotions never cloud one’s judgment?  Or can we, as we often claim, set them aside so easily, like so many automatons in those doomsday movies that have become popularized, where androids and mechanized juggernauts that have taken over the earth and tried to suppress humanity are now the very beings whom we always wanted to emulate?

And what of the French Existentialists and the horror of reaction to that old favorite, “Invasion of the body snatchers” — what was it that made it so fascinating, where beings were stripped of their souls and emotions were all of a sudden undone, extinguished and no longer relevant, where bodies devoid of feelings walked about the earth like so many empty tombs?

Feelings are funny animals; they make up so much of who we are, and yet we spend a lifetime trying to avoid the very essence of that which makes up who we are.

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 the Federal or Postal job, the anomaly concerning “feelings” becomes quickly apparent: for, confronted with having to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application before an administrative body — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — you are asked to remain “clinical” and antiseptic in the face of “proving” the medical evidence by the cold calculus of “the law”, and yet at the same time you are trying to convey your “feelings” with respect to the impact of the pain, the anguish of anxiety or the daily levels of profound fatigue felt.

It is a tightrope, balancing act that must be done with expertise, subtle techniques and an interspersing of line-crossing deftly engaged. Completing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is the single most important form in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, aside from gathering the proper medical documentation and making the persuasive legal argumentation.

For, in the end, that lifetime of trying to suppress those “feelings” must be utilized carefully, yet at the same time you have to be persuasive enough to touch upon the emotional makeup of a fellow human being who, also, likely has had to suppress those same feelings in order to apply “the law”.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The picture album

Time was, every family had a picture album – that anachronism bound carefully in a large leather book-shaped monstrosity, kept safe where dust settles and mice scurry around; taken out for occasions where boredom is accentuated and friends or neighbors have stayed long past their welcome, and so it is taken out carefully, dusted off and laboriously paged through, telling of a history for each page, each photograph laid meticulously upon the thick plaster-backboard of a person’s history.

It used to be that we all had one picture for an event – or, two at most, once Peoples Drug (for those who are old enough to remember; and that, in and of itself, was somewhat of a historical marker – when “Peoples” Drug – the drugstore of the “people”, was bought out by successive entities of greater reserve until it finally became a nondescript, boringly corporate entity under the designation of “CVS”; somehow, something was lost when the corner drugstore started in a suburb of D.C. was engulfed by mergers and corporate purchases) declared a two-for-one sale.

Of course, we all kept in safekeeping those brownish negatives that neatly fit into those thin plastic columns (i.e., thrown into a drawer based upon the sequence of receipt) – you know, the ones you hated to slide out because you could never get it back in without bending them, and somehow you suspected that they were never meant to be fit within the columns of plastic in the first place.

Somehow, there was something quaint and innocent about a picture album that only had one shot of a slice of life that told a limited tale about a person’s continuum of historical detail – by contrast, today’s Smartphone and digital chip that can hold literally thousands of photographs, and the person who is willing to show all in a public display for everyone in the universe to see, by downloading, uploading, displaying and replaying, for a person barely in his or her twenties.

The picture album is an anachronism, telling in its humility, limited access and manifesting a humble origin of consciousness.  It is a relic that bifurcates a “before” and an “after” – of a time now gone and lost forever, replaced by an after that manifests a change most of us never asked for.

To that end, the picture album is likened to a Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition.  That Federal or Postal employee suffers from a history of that which most of his or her coworkers are completely unaware of.  And like the picture album that is taken out from the dusty bookshelves of a corner closet, when the Federal or Postal employee comes to a point of needing 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 reaction displayed by others is often one of boredom, lack of concern or even of interest shown in forced phoniness.  For, what others know or find out about a person’s life – even of his or her medical condition – is ultimately a private slice of life that is shared with quiet discretion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The negative of a photograph

In this digital age, the disappearance of the negative in photography is quite appropriate; for, this is an age that has attempted to expunge everything negative, both in form and in substance.  That thin strip of plastic film that was always retained, and carefully coupled with the “positive” prints, was preserved with the idea that the more valued sets of prints may become lost, distributed or otherwise disseminated, and in that event, so long as the negative of the original was retained, more could be printed out.

Just before the digital age, there were “do-it-yourself” machines – monstrosities that received the film, processed them and spit out two-prints each; or is that just the faulty memory of this writer? The double-prints were meant to allow for giving of one and keeping the other, just in case grandma or grandpa wanted one of those cute pictures where everyone simultaneous said the universal word: “Cheese!”

Yet, the concept of the negative still retains some fascination, despite its obsolescence in the modernity of the digital age; for, it is the reverse order of reality, where the lightness of images retains the darkness of reflection, and vice versa, because of the chemical sensitivity in processing the film.

And who among us recalls the ghoulish search when we actually did want to get another print made – of searching through various negatives, seeing the hollow images of figures staring back, trying to discern whether multiple negatives that appeared similar but not quite the same could be the one, by matching the angle of the face, the tilt of the head, or some mysterious figure in the background not shown in the original?

Have we all had that experience – where there is something that appears in the negative but not in the print, and attribute it to the ghostly mysteries that somehow and by mistake captured the supernatural world otherwise banished from this day and age?

The romantic world of the unknown has now vanished, along with the negative of a photograph; now, we are left with the virtual reality of a mundane universe, with nothing left for our imaginations.  For, the negative of a photograph is the mystery itself that always spurred us onward and upward, trying always to achieve the next level of accomplishment.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the concept of the negative of a photograph should be quite familiar; for, once upon a time, that image beheld on that strip of plastic was the “real” you, preserved and retained for posterity as the valuable essence of a being otherwise forgotten.

Federal agencies and Postal facilities only care about the print that stays forever in the same pose and manner, unchangeable and forever identical.  The mere fact that a medical condition has “changed” a Federal or Postal employee is somehow rejected by the Federal agency and U.S. Postal Service, and that is why filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes so important.

For, just like the negative of a photograph, it is the medical condition in its negative aspects that always seems to be the sole focus of the Federal or Postal facility in determining the worth of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement Benefits: The Diary

Many begin the process at an early age, then abandon it with little remorse or afterthought, as a worthless project discarded for want of inherent value; and when, years and even decades later, it is discovered behind a bureau or a secret cubbyhole where trinkets and memorabilia retaining an eternal aura of privately precious remembrances are stored away, we shriek with joy as if the lottery had been won, a proposal has been declared, or a camouflaged vault containing the mysteries of gemstones and valuable cadavers had been pried open with but the wishes of gold pots at the end of a rainbow.

Then, as we turn the pages and delight in the innocence of bygone days, we regret that early abandonment turned away the gleeful idealism of a youth now a stranger, a mind intimately once known, but somehow forever a mirrored reflection of an identity of the same historicity in time and element, but yet in a parallel universe now non-existent but for memories kept securely in the destined vault of youthful summers.

Blank pages which abruptly reveal the terminal secrecy of thoughts and activities recorded once as sacred incantations of mysteries foreboding; whether of loves begotten or turmoils annotated in cloaked tears when others had retreated to the privacy of a house appearing in mirth, but ignoring the secret lives even in the midst of intimacy; now from the perspective of wisdom and maturity, do we laugh, or yearn for that innocence lost and the extinguished glow of naive eyes now dim with the experience of calloused beatings?

In more recent times, of course, we are told that one can actually lie to one’s self in a diary; but our own experiences tell us with greater certainty than the world can accord, that the tattered pages of bygone memories reveal truth as never before declared, and moreover, there is nothing more precious in life than the self-confessions of a heart once pure, only to be consecrated into the malignancy of a world which cares little.

It is, indeed, that transition from writing to the imaginary character of one’s own creation, to the intermediate level of testing the waters of reality, then to be pushed into the manifold chaos of the greater world, that constitutes the sin of destroying the human soul.  But that we could turn back the hands of time and reenter the hallways of innocence; but, no, that would mean that the womb of our essence would be revisited, and the soil of our own impurity would desecrate the purity of those precious memories we safely tucked away.  Then, one day, we open our eyes and we have “grown up”; and nowhere is there any room for such foolishness as hearts which once poured out for yearning of innocence betrayed.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer the inequities of workplace hostility, harassment — no, let’s just use the singular word which is simple, outdated, but still relevant — “meanness“, as in the child who has just had enough, screws up his face and cries out, “You are just plain mean!” — know of the experiential desecration of humanity, when a medical condition becomes revealed, and others who were perhaps identified “friends” and coworkers suddenly turn the proverbial “cold shoulder” upon the vulnerability opened, as a wound wrapped but now exposed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not unlike the youthful abandonment of the innocent diarist from bygone days.  For, like that abandoned project scoffed at for want of perseverance or perhaps plain boredom, it is the treasure found at the end of the process which resuscitates the goals once considered and the future to be embraced; and, in the end, there is a difference between regret for a childhood forever gone, and a later stage now delivered, but where broken promises are ignored with a twinkle of a child’s forlorn gaze.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire