Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Epochal Dawns

There are those momentous events in life which we mark and memorialize; and, in the end, whether the cumulative bag of goodies amounts to a positive aggregate, or a negation of sorrows, we determine in the quietude of private thoughts.  Avoidance of future uncertainty is a talent wrought only by humans; for animals of other species, they cannot afford such luxuries, as survival in the here and now constitutes reality of future causality.

For us, there is today; tomorrow will take care of itself within the constructs of fear, angst and uncertainty; and as Heidegger would have it, the projects we savor are the ones which delay thoughts of tomorrow, death, and the certainty of extinction.

What are those epochal dawns?  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it can include the advent of a medical condition.  In the beginning, in retrospect, perhaps it was of minor consequence; left as merely an afterthought, a nagging pain, or perhaps a singular moment of sudden urgency.  But the chronicity of life often parallels the longevity of a condition, and what was once a mere quibble may have turned into that momentous event.

Medical conditions belong in the bag of goodies set aside as “negatives”; and it may well lead to the necessity of considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Avoidance of the issue will not switch the bag of goodies from the negative to the positive; but once that decision is made to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is up to each Federal and Postal employee to determine whether the future course of events — that “hereafter” and “post-disability retirement life” — will mean that there is yet a future of positives, and not merely a reverberation of past negatives.

And what of that “epochal dawn”?  It remains so only if the event itself stays in a motionless rut of stagnation, like those old films of a dying carcass stuck in the mud of a scorching desert sky, where the vultures of a future abyss fly above, waiting for their pick of tenderloin.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Upon the Altar of Work

They are structures where sacrifices or worship occur.  Not being mutually exclusive, the former can represent the act of the latter, and the latter can constitute the fulfillment of the former.  And while we, in modernity, think of ourselves as sophisticated and beyond the vestiges of former practices of superstition and unscientific religiosity, an objective view of our actions betray the ongoing reliance upon past residues of robotic constancies.

Of course we have to make a living; of course we have to support our families.  But at what cost, and to whom do we owe our allegiance?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who sacrifice themselves at the altar of work, when medical conditions begin to clearly impact, deteriorate, denigrate and destroy the body, mind and soul of the Federal and Postal worker, then it is time to consider 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.

As most Federal and Postal employees are under FERS, the minimum eligibility requirement is to have at least 18 months of Federal Service.  Once that threshold is met, then the question is one of having the proper support from one’s treating doctor, psychiatrist, Nurse Practitioner, etc.  The true test for a Federal Disability Retirement application will be in establishing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s official job, as reflected on SF 50 (Federal employees) or PS Form 50 (Postal employees).

Ultimately, when the altar of work becomes more than a means of support, and harkens back to the days of yore where sacrifice and worship intersected to pay tribute to the gods of the underworld, it is time to consider the alternatives available, and for Federal and Postal employees, that should always include the possibility of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: How to Handle those “Second-Class” Medical Conditions

Attitudes toward various medical conditions change over time.  This has certainly been the case with psychiatric medical conditions:  Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Agoraphobia, PTSD, OCD, etc.  At one time in our society, the heavy stigma placed upon such medical conditions essentially made them unacceptable.  Over time, however, as greater numbers of such conditions came to the forefront, and greater success at treatment of such conditions became evident, the validity and acceptance of such conditions have resulted in other medical conditions taking their place. 

Thus, certain conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Chemical Sensitivity cases, etc., have become the psychiatric conditions of a prior age.  Perhaps it is because the medical profession treats such conditions as afterthoughts — where, through a process of elimination of saying that the medical condition is not X, Y or Z, therefore it is A. 

Whatever the reasons, in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, a Federal or Postal employee who is applying for such benefits who is suffering from any of the Second-Class medical conditions must formulate and compile his or her case in a thoughtful, deliberate and forceful manner.  Such an application must include adequate medical support; a clear and concise bridge between the symptomatologies experienced and the type of job which one must perform; and legal arguments which support the basis for an approval.  To some extent, this approach is no different than with any other medical condition; it is merely a reminder that one must cross all “T’s” and dot all “I’s” with that much more care.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Psychiatric v. Physical Disabilities

People continually inquire as to the difference between Psychiatric v. Physical disabilities, as to whether one is more amenable to an approval over the other.  Psychiatric conditions can include a wide range of variables — from Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Agoraphobia, ADD/ADHD, and multiple other diagnoses.  Physical medical conditions, also, include a wide spectrum of disorders — Cervical, Thoracic or Lumbar conditions; various cardiac conditions; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome; Plantar Fasciitis; Migraine headaches; Lupus; Chemical Sensitivity issues; allergies; COPD; and multiple other conditions.  Is there a difference between these (and the listed conditions are by no means meant to be exhaustive, but merely illustrative of the wide range of medical conditions)?  The answer is, ultimately, No. 

The foundational essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether involving Psychiatric disabilities or Physical disabilities, is the impact upon one’s ability to continue to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  Further, recent case law holds that OPM cannot make a distinction between “objective” medical evidence as opposed to “subjective” medical evidence, and so the old distinction between “psychological” medical conditions as distinguished from “physical” medical conditions can no longer be seriously upheld.  Ultimately, and fortunately, there is no difference between psychiatric disabilities and physical disabilities when trying to get approved for a Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Time to Make the Decision (Part 2)

The medical condition known as “Fibromyalgia” is analogous to the manner in which Federal and Postal employees approach the decision-making process in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS.  Let me explain:  Fibromyalgia, as the Office of Personnel Management often likes to characterize, often manifests itself with chronic and diffuse pain which “waxes and wanes” — meaning, in simple terms, that there are good days and bad days; days when the pain is unbearable, excruciating and debilitating; and days when one can “manage” the extent of the pain and mental dysfunction and confusion. With that context, the Office of Personnel Management often tries to argue that it is not “so bad” as to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS. 

By analogy, people with all sorts of medical conditions — from physically debilitating neck and back pain; from Orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, chronic pain, visual impairment, etc.; to psychiatric disabilities of Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD — some days, one can seem to manage the disability; on other days, one cannot get through the day, let alone perform the essential elements of one’s job.  But deep down, one knows that one cannot continue forever on the same course.  To continue is to slowly wither away by a thousand cuts, one cut at a time, one cut per day.  And so, just as the Office of Personnel Management is plainly wrong (for Fibromyalgia is a chronic and debilitating medical condition which clearly qualifies for disability retirement), so the person who procrastinates in making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS is simply waiting for the inevitable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire