Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS: Adopting an Adaptive Plan

Most of us barely have one; and when we do, we quickly forget about it and move on, satisfied that —by the mere declaration of having one — we need not implement it or follow it rigorously beyond the mere possession of it.

The old Soviet Union (do we remember what the abbreviation, “U.S.S.R.” stood for?) had 5 and 10 year plans, and when the stated goals were not met, they simply cooked the books and declared that they were well ahead of the declared plans, and so the satellite nations under the rubric of the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” nodded its approval and genuflected to the Soviet Central Planning Committee (for, you couldn’t have a plan unless there were multiple committees to make those plans) and were grateful for the plans even though their populace were starving, despite the declared success of all of that planning.

Battlefield officers rely upon them; although, in recent years, because war is no longer fought by armies planning an attack upon other armies, the need for adopting an adaptive plan has become a survival necessity.  Life itself rarely follows a plan; most of the time, one’s day is consumed by just trying to survive.

When a medical condition hits us, of course, then all of the planning in the world — from a retrospective and myopic viewpoint — didn’t amount to much.  What is the plan, then, for a Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform his or her job because of the medical conditions that prevent one from doing so?

The Federal Disability Retirement “plan” is to allow for a Federal or Postal employee to file for OPM Medical Retirement benefits under FERS, so that the Federal employee can medically retire, focus upon one’s health and still, hopefully, enter the workforce in the near or mid-future and continue to contribute, all the while receiving a disability retirement annuity.  Now, that sounds like adopting an adaptive plan where interruption of a life plan allows for some grace beyond lack of planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Loneliness in a Crowd

Do we all share that experience?  Or, do some never sense the isolation felt, the separation determined, the detachment embraced; but instead, always the smiling center where the crowd is but an extension of one’s body and soul?

A crowd, of course, can be an organic mass of an aggregate whole that, because it is a herd of humanity, can never embrace the individual; and as the individual stands within the continuum of others similarly situated, so the uniqueness of each is lost within the greater whole.

Human emotions, however, are possessed by the independent “I” of each person, and the insularity of those emotions within the inner soul of each body conceals itself except when expressed through words, deeds and facial or other characteristics that betray the anonymity of the crowd.  A teardrop here, a smile over there; a forlorn look of regret by a furrowed eyebrow or the curling frown around lips that purse; and words, of course, that are expressed.

Does tone matter?  Can a person express an emotion in an emotionless manner, and still be sincere in the very expression of that emotion?  Similarly, can a person stand within the mass of a crowd and yet declare loneliness, and be believed?  And of how we treat one another as human beings — or as mere objects that respond without regard to the validity of the subjective “I”.

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 sense of loneliness in a crowd is palpable precisely because, although still with the Federal Agency or the Postal unit, one is treated as an outsider, a person separate and apart and no longer “one of us”; and when that sense of loneliness in a crowd triggers hostility and adversity, it becomes apparent and self-evident that separation must follow — by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Otherwise, the loneliness in a crowd may ultimately lead to detachment from the crowd, involuntarily, by a termination of one’s Federal Service, on their terms and not on your own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The developing case

Some things need time to develop; “news stories” are often those animals — of events that are “still developing”; or of relationships and stories, ideas and categories of things still in stages yet of potentiality and not of actualized inertia. Children develop; medical conditions, as well, are always in stages of potentiality — whether of a worsening condition or even of getting better.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in that “netherworld” of a developing case, where a 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 job, there is often nothing more frustrating than the feeling of being in a state of suspended animation — “suspended” because you know not what your status will be tomorrow or the next day; in “animation” because, although everything is still moving about and around, it is your career, your health and your life which is questioned and considered as questionable.

The developing case often involves multiple issues — of whether you have a doctor who will be supportive of your case; of whether you have the necessary time in service in order to be eligible; of whether you have given it enough time — and multiple other issues that, perhaps, cannot be affirmatively answered.  In such an event, guidance by an experienced attorney is needed in order to direct the Federal or postal employee through the maze of complex legal obstacles in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Employee Disability Retirement application.

Like most of life’s struggles, the developing case needs to be planned and prepared well, and consultation with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law is crucial to the successful outcome of a goal which is known, but cannot quite be reached because the path towards that goal is yet developing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Next Steps

It is always the next steps which determine the relevance and efficacy of the prior ones; a misstep can extinguish the progress made from the ones before; a stumble can irrevocably diminish the gains already made; and a fall can destroy the foundation of past steps already taken.

What to do next? We can stumble through; brashly forge forward despite unmapped territories that can harm and destroy; and we can even try and “manage” things by taking small, incremental steps, with trepidation and lacking of confidence, hoping for good things to occur despite our best wishes and hopeful optimism.  Or, we can consult with experts and specialists in order to gain a roadmap, or even hire a guide who has been down this mountain path before, and allow for the gains already garnered to account for something, instead of blindly destroying all that we worked for by forging ahead thoughtlessly like the proverbial bull in a china shop.

That is the problem with Federal and Postal employees who try and prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application without expert legal assistance: every case prepared by the person suffering from the medical condition believes his or her’s to be a “slam dunk” case — for, if the one who suffers from the medical condition prepares and submits his or her case, it is the same person “one and all” of the person experiencing the medical condition and the one who describes the very experience, such that no amount of objectivity can maintain the necessary distance between the two.

Consulting and hiring an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may not necessarily guarantee a “win”; but it does help to ensure that the next steps do not extinguish the prior years of investing in your Federal or Postal career, by making sure that the next steps mean something beyond the stumble, hesitation, or sudden fall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Higher and lesser standards

Does anyone ever go into something, engage an activity, begin a project or initiate a hobby thinking that a “lesser standard” would be acceptable?  Or, is the “higher standard” always the option preferred? — and if we fall somewhat short of the goal intended, isn’t it better to strive towards that height of vaunted “unreachable-ness” like the lesser angels who try and climb up the ladder to heaven but fall short because of the misgivings of sins committed or blemishes of imperfections left unchanged?

One can always argue, of course, that all standards are somewhat “arbitrary”, and perhaps they are to the extent that we can always “do better”, and the self-satisfaction of reaching the pinnacle of any standard set is merely to realize that there can always be another step to take, a further goalpost to conquer, and a next and higher challenge to face.  To begin with a lesser standard is to foretell defeat before a journey is begun; whereas, to demand an unreachable standard is to despair of an idealism that cannot be fathomed.  What, then, is the “proper” standard to set?

To set it too low is to achieve mere mediocrity; to preface a too-high-a-standard is to defeat one’s advocacy before efficacy can be tested.

We, none of us, want to begin a journey with a defeatist mentality, and it is the setting of a standard — however low or high — that often determines the success or failure of any endeavor.  It is only when we “know” that a self-set standard will never be reached, cannot be attained and will never be near to the heart of our wishes and desires, that then we realize the utter futility of our own efforts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have set a high standard in their careers and employment goals, it is a difficult road to take, both mentally and/or physically, to realize and come to the conclusion that one’s professional standards can no longer be met because of a medical condition that impedes, precludes and prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

No one ever sets out to reduce the standards of a life’s goal, but when outside forces such as a medical condition impact upon the standards set, the choice is to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Federal and Postal employees have always set high standards for their work ethic. Sometimes, however, it is not the higher standard that defeats, but the lesser standards of reality — such as a medical condition that comes about unexpectedly in life — that forces the necessary adjustments that remind us of our own mortality, imperfections and the gap between the higher standards we set and the truth of our own misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire