OPM Disability Retirement: The Pre-planned Life

Planning is part of our culture; from birth, to plan for old age; from the first entrance into a career, to consider the options for retirement funding; from the days of schooling, to determine the course of one’s career; and multiple intermediate pre-planning considerations, often mundane in nature, such as what to eat for dinner, how many children to have, where to live, etc.  Whether animals plan for the day, and to what extent, may be debated; what cannot be disputed is the extent and complexity in comparison to the pre-planning engaged in by Man.

But life rarely follows along the neat and uninterrupted course of a plan determined days, months or years prior; instead, the hiccups of life are what make for interesting interludes of unexpected turns and twists.  The proverbial nest egg may not have developed as quickly; one’s expectations of career goals may not have blossomed; a child may have come unplanned; or a lost puppy may have appeared at one’s doorstep.

Medical conditions are somewhat like those interruptions of interludes; they may not be as pleasant as some other hiccups, but they are realities which people have to deal with.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a situation where medical conditions prevent them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to undertake two preliminary steps:  An assessment of the medical condition and whether it is likely to resolve within a year or less; if not, to investigate and become informed about Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One of the elements which must be shown is that one’s medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  This can normally be easily accomplished by a doctor who can provide a prognosis fairly early on in the process.

And perhaps a third step:  A recognition that lives rarely travel along a pre-planned route, no matter what you were taught to believe, and more than that, that the value of one’s life should not be reflected by veering into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Plantar Fasciitis, Rotator Cuff, Extremity Injuries, etc.

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is often the case that Federal and Postal workers (and the general population) tend to “pigeonhole” medical conditions, injuries and disabilities.  Certain medical conditions are considered “causally related” to certain types of jobs, and this type of relational categorization is often true in Worker’s Compensation claims, or other benefits sought in other areas of law. 

Thus, Plantar Fasciitis is often closely associated with Postal Workers who must remain on their feet throughout the day; Rotator Cuff injuries are often associated with the repetitive physical use of upper extremities; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Cervical, Lumbar & Thoracic pain, degenerative disc disease, etc., are all categorized and pigeonholed into physical types of jobs.  Yet, chronic pain of one’s extremities, joints, musculature, etc. can often severely impact more sedentary types of jobs, precisely because of the high distractability of such chronicity of pain.  Additionally, one often overlooks the excessive amount of repetitive “micro-movements” one engages in while on a computer — of the thousands of dexterous manipulations of the fingers and the concomitant engagement of the shoulder muscles, etc., in the very act of typing on a keyboard. 

Pigeonholing a medical condition to a specific type of job is a dangerous endeavor of dismissing a viable Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS and CSRS.  Careful thought and consideration should be given for each medical condition, especially when attempting to ignore the impediment it is causing in performing the essential elements of one’s job does not make the pain go away.  “Out of sight” does not mean “out of mind”, especially when dealing with pain and the underlying medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire