Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The Steps to Take

Life is often overwhelming enough.  Then, when a medical condition make its initial entrance, remains for more than a fortnight and begins to impede, curtail and prevent one from doing the things one has taken for granted –  the problem becomes more than just a nuisance, but a magnification and exponential exaggeration beyond that which was a burden to begin with:  another problem adding to a host of problems.  In life, we often know what needs to be done, and sometimes even the “how” in going about solving problems.  But the capacity to prioritize and organize, to sort a jumble into a linear coherency, and to gather the necessary components into a cogent whole, is often the problem that prevents one from moving forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the condition (or multiple medical conditions) begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the normal sequence of events often take on the following incoherent pathway:  An inquiry is made with the Human Resource Department; two sets of Standard Forms are presented to the Federal or Postal employee (SF 3107 series; SF 3112 series); the Federal or Postal employee is told to read through them and “fill them out” and bring the entire sets back to the H.R. Office.  They will be there “to help”.

When such a development occurs, 2 issues immediately come to one’s attention, or should.  First, is there a sequence and methodology one should follow, that is better and more effective?  Second, if the Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted and denied at the initial stage of the process, will that same Human Resource Office or person be held accountable, and continue to “help” for the second and subsequent stages of the process?

The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “yes”; the answer to the second question is a bit more complex.  There are, indeed, many helpful H.R. offices and personnel.  The point of creating an H.R. Office is to guide, help and assist the employees of the agency or organization.  But filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a different “animal” from most other processes.  Think about it; it is not like setting up an allotment from one’s pay, or changing the number of deductions for tax purposes.  No, it is a complex administrative process that, once out of the hands of the agency’s H.R. Office, is under the direct control of a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Further, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can become a contentious issue – once a denial is issued by OPM, and even a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal will need to be filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 days.  Then what?  Will the Human Resource Office that was so helpful, represent you there?

Every future holds a pathway for successful maneuvering, and yes, there are sequential steps to take in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  For that, a knowledgeable FERS Disability Lawyer who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement law can be helpful in guiding the Federal or Postal employee onto that pathway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS: “The End”

Those two words are often appended upon the last word, the final thought, the grammatical period marking the denouement of a narrative; sometimes, an ellipsis leaving the reader to ponder a missing word, concept or continuation of an event.

Why it is not stamped in bold print at the end of a biography or a non-fiction narrative; or even a short story, an essay or a philosophical treatise; perhaps, as a factual account presupposes a reflection of correspondence between truth and reality, it is only in the literary world of make-believe that we must apprise the audience of the terminal nature of virtual reality — that, like Pavlov’s dogs in responsive salivation for experimental purposes, we become conditioned to a realization that a blank page following the grammatical finality of a period is simply insufficient to constitute an obstructive wall separating fantasy from reality.

Or, does convention merely mark the climax of the unreal, where the breathless pursuit of becoming lost in an imagined universe leaves us panting for more, only to be pulled ruthlessly back from the lost quietus of our penchant for more?

But that reality gave us a final warning, an appended duality of words in order to forewarn of the terminus of trials, travails and tempestuous tantrums of tactile tandems; then, like the eyes which scout a few pages hence, where we nervously flip forward in disbelief as we approach the thinning culmination of paper remaining, we would know when to cease trying, how much more effort to expend, and the time of fruition left as an afterthought, like windowed houses empty in a neighborhood abandoned by loss of industrial flight and more importantly, of hope left remote in the hearts of soulless men.

Reality never gives us that warning, of course; and so we are forced to trudge onward in spite of that lack.

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 position, the approach of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often one encompassing an attitude that, like the novel’s culmination, the act of filing is somehow tantamount to “the end”.  It is not.

Instead, it is merely a pause, an extension, a comma and a prosaic interlude, and nothing more.  The narrative of the human soul does not so cleanly enter the blank pages of demise; rather, life goes on, and like the thoughts which pursue the sentence marked by a period of finality, the beauty of it all remains with us like the residue of golden dust left sprinkled upon the twilight of life, trailing behind by an angel’s wings fluttering noiselessly upon the dawn of a hopeful tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and 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.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Disabling Conditions: Suicidal Ideations

It is perhaps the final vestige of societal taboo; for, at what point the human animal realized that self-destruction became an option is open for debate.  In the Animal Kingdom, it is rare to find species openly seeking to end life; the struggle to survive and the Darwinian inherency for self-preservation and survival remains as vibrant as ever.

Being diagnosed with “suicidal ideation” is normally associated with psychiatric conditions of Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety, where the acceptable level of stress-tolerance exceeds the capacity to withstand.  Each individual is a unique creature; in this cookie-cutting mold of society where people get lost in the importance of position, fame, accolades and a false sense of admiration, it becomes commonplace to question one’s sense of worth and value.

Psychiatry has never been a perfect science; some even question the validity of its approach, as it has now become overwhelmingly a pharmacological event, with some semblance of therapeutic intervention thrown in as an afterthought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who are contemplating 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 even CSRS Offset, the existence of suicidal ideations (or otherwise simply known as “having suicidal thoughts”) is often lost in the compendium of diagnosed psychiatric conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where a significant event has intervened which has resulted in traumatic reverberations in one’s life; Anxiety (or more officially identified as Generalized Anxiety Disorder); Major Depression; Bipolar Disorder, with spectrum symptoms of manic phases and depressive states; as well as schizophrenia and paranoia.

For relevance to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the existence of suicidal ideations is often one more indicia of the seriousness of the diagnosed psychiatric conditions, but should never be determinative in whether one’s psychiatric condition is “serious enough” in order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Indeed, there are many, many Federal and Postal employees who file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, who suffer from Major Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and other forms of psychiatric conditions, without ever suffering from suicidal ideations, and yet are fully qualified for, and become entitled to, Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Further, as Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the algorithm of showing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the impeding aspect of suicidal ideations may be negligible.  Rather, from a medical standpoint, it is one more factor of concern and consternation within a long list of diagnoses and symptoms which cumulatively form the basis for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The tapestry of modernity

Every age has its feel of fabric of the times; in ages past, the woven loom of quiet hamlets with curls of smoke slowly rising from the warmth of the hearth; in others, the tension wrought at the dawn of the industrial revolution, where the ways of old and the textiles of handiworks would soon be replaced by the machines of progress.

In modernity, there is the tactile sense of restlessness, of communities splintered, where we are told that the inevitable march of progress is but for the dawn of an age of leisure, as each technological innovation will afford us greater time with out families.  Somehow, however, we are busier than ever.  Not more productive; not even happier; just a frenzy of activity to plug the holes of the dam which continually creaks with new fissures.  That is the tapestry of modernity; of a world which fits man into a cauldron of machines beyond the want of age.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who, in this day of demands beyond human capacity and tolerance, suffer from a progressively debilitating 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, there dawns a time when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes a necessity.

Often, the upcoming fight seems like the “same old” repetition of confronting the inevitability of the progressive decline reflected in the age of technology, as bureaucracy and administrative obstacles form a conspiracy of stopping every avenue of attempted accommodations.  Life is tough; life in modernity is tougher, still.  The tapestry of modernity belies the times of yore when communities cared and banded together, replaced by the coldness of rights, benefits and entitlements.

OPM Disability Retirement benefits are there to compensate for the Federal or Postal employee who “paid the price” and now has a disability which prevents one from continuing in his or her chosen field; and the tapestry of modernity allows for that very attainment of necessity, in order for the Federal or Postal employee to move on into the next phase of civilization’s promise of hope for a future of uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Demarcation between Sanity and…

The dividing line itself may be a false option; for, there may well exist a spectrum of alternatives prior to falling off of the fathomless cliff into the netherworld of the opposite.  Yet, human behavior often reveals to us the tenuous hold we have upon this thin reed we identify as the “civilized” world, where conformity to standards of behavior are relatively followed, and the social contract between citizens constrains open aggression towards one another; and from the individual’s viewpoint, the internal mechanism of orderliness remains fairly intact.

We recognize, however, that there exists such a dividing line; how else to explain the rise of dystopian novels and movies depicting the quick regression into chaos and madness?  Then, on an individualized scale, the daily pressures, the stresses encountered, the bombardment of data, needless and useless information, and the constant obsession with our Smartphones — we come to believe that the demarcation is between sanity and the “other” universe, comprised of complete loss of rational discourse.

That is why we come to accept that a person has “snapped” or “gone postal“; and the new normalcy includes a bomb being set off in a crowded mall, and certainly for some endangered countries and populations, that is a daily occurrence to be expected, like birth, death, taxes and sweaty palms on a first date of teenage romance.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must work under conditions of daily and almost intolerable levels of stress, well comprehend the plight of that fragile decomposition of demarcations.  For, when a medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to continue performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the exponential quantification of stress levels begins to expand and show the almost-imperceptible cracks opening the inner resolve to “tough it out“.

The question is:  How long does it take, and not “whether”, but “when”?  The reason why the little old lady next door always says to the reporter, “He was such a nice young man…” is that we rarely take the time to notice the subtle changes of decomposition.  Instead, we tend to observe things in incremental jumps, like warp speeds of bouncing into another universe of experiential encounters, instead of being watchful to daily needs and wants.

For the Federal or Postal employee whose medical condition has come to a point where it becomes clear that simply “existing” as opposed to “living” has become a daily reality, the time may be now that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has become a necessity, and not merely a theoretical option for an obscure future event.

The dystopian universe first begins with the demarcation between sanity and reality, and the failure to recognize and identify the source of deterioration; rarely is it between sanity and its opposite, except perhaps in timeless tunnels of inchoate universes where the whispers of crying fears shout out in chasms of darkness, in a madness we are creating daily for ourselves as we delay the inevitable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The False Option of Extremes

-The choices we make are contingent upon the knowledge we possess; thus, if we choose between a tripartite offering of x, y & z, when (as perhaps illustrated by Venn Diagrams within a rectangular border representing the “universal” set of possibilities) actual and available options may extend beyond the known quantities available, then we have made our decision based upon an ignorance of alternatives.

Offerings are generally made based upon self-centered care; in negotiating with an adversary, it is normally the option of extremes which are granted:  Either X, or Y, but not both, and if neither X nor Y, then consequence-T.  No mention is made concerning the availability of sub-options Xx, or Yy, to the remaining result of T1, 2 or 3.  Furthermore, when the concealment or unrevealed alternatives fail to be presented, it is often the case that only the extreme of options are conveyed, which makes the entire set of non-universal choices false in their very definition.  This can be exponentially quantified when a medical condition is introduced into the equation, precisely because mental acuity and sound judgment become influenced by desperation of circumstances.

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 positional duties in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the false option of extremes can very likely be attributable to fear, lack of knowledge, combined with loss of confidence in the fair distribution of justice and good sense.

It is indeed troubling that so many Federal and Postal workers know nothing about Federal Disability Retirement, or its availability after having worked just 18 months in the Federal sector (under FERS), or 5 years under CSRS.  The confusion can sometimes arise in the availability of Social Security Disability, which is distinct and separate from Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The two are distinct and different in multiple ways:  the criteria to qualify; the nature of the benefit; the rules concerning employment after approval of either, etc.  Yes, if under FERS both SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement are granted, there is an “offset” tantamount to a coordination of benefits between the two, but for those who do not seek outside employment, the combination of both (despite the offset) will normally net the (former) Federal or Postal employee more in terms of a monthly annuity.

Whatever the reasons, the age-old adage (attributable to Sir Francis Bacon) that knowledge is power, and lack of it injustice and contempt (the addendum clause is merely added by this author) by those who possess but offer mere false alternatives, is but a pervasive truism abounding despite the Internet, Google and other information-searching technologies of modernity.

In the end, the false options of extremes should be countered by a deliberative intent and real curiosity to know — know that the “other side” is never truly looking out for your best interest; that in making spur-of-the-moment decisions, to take a further moment to investigate and reflect may be fruitful, and in the end, to recognize that for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, working on at the expense of one’s health, or resigning, are not the only two options available, but preparing, formulating and 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, is also within the subset of universal alternatives available to the Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire