Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: The Inconsequential

In the annals of history, most of us remain as the inconsequential.  Not even a footnote, nor even a passing reference, we are lumped into generations of third-person subjects unnamed and faceless.  We might read, for instance, that during the “Sixties” or “Seventies” (or beyond), this group of people or that community of individuals did X or participated in Y, and we might say to ourselves, “Oh, that is a reference to my generation”.  Yet, as an individual, it is rare to be identified by name.

History always fails to recognize the inconsequential; except, perhaps, by memory of relatives and faded photographs barely remembered in gatherings where old folks once chattered about this or that person whose absence emphasizes the starkness of the inconsequential.

Is that what many of us fear?  Not just about being ignored; and perhaps not even of leaving this world without a mark of recollection; but of being one of the inconsequential within a mass populace of unknown graves, unmarked but for those faded memories of vestiges in whispered conversations once echoing down the forgotten chambers of time.

And of that place where we toiled for a decade or more — where so much time was spent, so much effort and expenditure of labor: The workplace.  Once we are gone, will we even be remembered?  Will a fellow worker say, years hence, “Oh, remember that guy who…?”

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, the fear of becoming one of the “inconsequential” is often what makes the Federal or Postal worker pause before considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

But just remember this: There is life after work, and whatever “consequential” work you believe you contributed to the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, there is nothing that cannot be replaced, and the greater consequence of failing to attend to one’s health is what makes for the inconsequential to loom larger with greater consequences down the road.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Automatic Pilot

There is the classic story of the man who sued the seller of his Recreational Vehicle:  Having been told that his RV could be driven on “automatic cruise control”, he proceeded to follow the directions, then got up and walked towards the back of the RV in order to make some coffee.  He mistakenly interpreted what the salesman had said, that the vehicle “drives itself”.

While partially true, what he failed to understand is that the “pilot” of the vehicle still needed to steer the vehicle; it was merely the forward motion which was on automatic pilot — not where the vehicle was going.  The two distinguishing features — the “what” of X (the occurrence of a running engine and movement) and the “where” of X (the direction in which the vehicle is going) — should never be confused.

Similarly, the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, should never confuse the fact that he may still have a job, with the danger of not knowing what direction the agency is considering with respect to the employee.

Smiles and inquiries about one’s medical condition are niceties which are often indicators of a deeper motivation.  What the Supervisor “says” in showing concern about one’s medical condition, may betray a directional change which may never be overtly stated.  Waiting to suddenly one day have a collision with the agency may not be the best approach in preparing for one’s future.

While it is true that all Federal and Postal employees have up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM from the date of separation from service, you might consider being the pilot of that endeavor, instead of waiting for a sudden crash with the agency to occur.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire