OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Problems

We all have them; some, more than others; and by either quality or quantity, we often judge as to the burdens overloaded in our lives, comparing to others by contrast the significance of the impact of each, whether large or small, tragic and grandiose or irrelevant like a speck of a fly upon a windowsill in the basement where no one visits, anyway.

Wait long enough and they will sometimes go away; wait too long, and the little bothersome inkling may turn into an insurmountable gargantuan of a magnified adversity beyond human tolerability; and in the end, we are left with either being resigned to live with them, to solve them, or to simply survive them.

Problems are inherent to human living.  A wise pastor once said, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  This statement was a recognition that human interactions, relationships and the mere bunching up of personalities that conflict and become adversarial, in a world of limited means but unlimited emotional upheaval, by necessity invites problematic encounters.

We often think that, “If only I had…” — then, what?  That all problems would simply vanish?  Hardly, and most unlikely.  For, history has shown that in every endeavor that requires effort; in every relationship no matter the matching of perfection as to personality, temperament and compatibility; in the end, whether by external influences or internal derangements, conflict will erupt and problems will abound.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the necessity may arise for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset.

In such a state of affairs, problems already are inherent — the medical condition itself.  The key, then, is not to compound the problem by trying to maneuver through a complex administrative process without legal expertise, but rather, to engage an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

In the end, it is the compounding of problems that can be controlled.  Problems will always be with us, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must contend with a medical condition and must file a Federal Disability Retirement application, always remember that it is the next step beyond the original problem that will often determine the future course of problems, and whether they can be limited or allowed to fester and boil over into a compounding of further problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Hub

It is the center of the universe; upon and around it, all things revolve.  The axle is attached to it; the spokes; the planets that circle about; the hub constitutes, represents and relates to all else by being the primary foundation from which all else is dependent and subservient.  And thus the phrase, “That’s the hub of it all, isn’t it?”  Or, is the idiom, “That’s the nub of it all” the true way of saying it?  If a person replaces the “h” for the “n”, and let’s say he or she has a strange inflection or accent, anyway, do we stop them and correct them?

Say two people are watching a show, and afterwards a discussion ensues as to the meaning of what one of the characters said or failed to say, and one says to the other, “That’s the hub of it all, isn’t it?”  The other turns and says, “You mean, that’s the NUB of it all, don’t you?”  The other pauses, reflects and retorts, “What’s the difference?”  Now it is the first one’s turn to pause, reflect and answer back, but what would be an appropriate answer?  While the true idiom or adage may well be the “nub” usage as opposed to the “hub” application, perhaps the other person was just being somewhat eccentric and creative.

Or, let’s say that you knew of the other person the following: When he was just a young boy, he lost his mother, whom he loved very much.  Her last words to him as she lay in bed suffering from tuberculosis was: “Now, remember Bobby, it is love — that is the … [and, here, she was overcome with a fit of uncontrollable coughing, and could not get the “n” out and instead, pulled herself together and said hoarsely] the hub of it all.”  And to this day, Bobby remembers his mother’s last words, and the slight difference of idiom used, and likes forever after to repeat the phrase, “That’s the hub of it all”.

Would you, knowing this, correct him on the misuse of the idiom?  And even if you didn’t know the history of such misusage, why correct something when the underlying meaning remains the same?  Isn’t “hub” a synonym for “nub”, and vice versa?

In life, we too often focus upon the spokes of the wheel, and not the hub; or, put another way, we walk right past the nub of a matter and become too easily distracted by tangential, irrelevant or insignificant obfuscations.  But life is too short to aim at the spokes of the matter instead of the hub, nub or essence of it all.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job, just remember that there are certain things in life that cannot be ignored — like one’s health.

If one’s health is deteriorating and the Federal or Postal job is contributing to that deterioration, what is more important?  What is the hub of the matter?  What essence of life’s priorities are more important?  Identify the nub — and proceed on to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that you can focus upon the hub or nub of the matter, which and whatever, so long as it points to the essence and not the spoke.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The race that wasn’t

Does it often seem as if one is in the middle of the race, but that all of the rules have been abandoned by all other participants except the one that keeps struggling — you?

The term itself has had a long history of proverbial applications and overused metaphorical usages — of the “race” against time; the “race of life”; of marathon runners, sprinters and the various specialists in the metered world of measured distances.  It is the race that wasn’t that is the one forgotten, however; of the false starts, the disqualifications, the one’s discovered to have used illegal steroids, and the villains who cut across back trails when no one was looking in order to save an extra couple of miles from being detected.

Most races are unfair; they are stacked against one from the very beginning, and the end result is almost always predetermined in one fashion or another.  Is a race that is predetermined as to the outcome of individuals to reach the finish line, truly a race at all?  Do any of us ever enter a “race”, actual, metaphorical or otherwise, and say: Well, I know I am not going to win because the rules won’t allow it, but I am going to run, anyway?

Of course, one may not have a choice in the matter; and, in that case, when the whistle is blown, the flag is brought down or the blank round of the gunshot is fired, one begins to trudge along and try one’s best.  That is how one feels when a medical condition begins to creep upon a person’s health — of the slow, insidious deterioration, where the generality of “life’s unfairness” begins to dawn upon the consciousness of one’s livelihood.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent, impede, interrupt or otherwise diminish the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may be time to reconsider the “rules of the race”, as the metaphor is often applied, and begin 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.

As with all government bureaucracies, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management applies the “rules of the race”, and in order to qualify for the race that wasn’t, you will likely need to consult an attorney who knows all of the relevant rules of the race, including the start time, the length of the process, and what needs to be done in order to reach the finish line.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: The rabbits we chase

The rabbits we chase are the ones that reveal not so much about our preferences, but more about who we are and the priorities we place.  For, as one walks about in life, whether in suburban neighborhoods where rabbits abound because no one shoots them for meals, anymore, and so they can multiply without natural restrictions for lack of predators, the fact that there are other things to pursue — but instead we choose the rabbit — tells others something about you.

Of course, it is the proverbial rabbit we speak about — of work at all cost, of refusing to concede that which is quite obvious to everyone else.

Much of real rabbit hunting, of course, is done by knowledge and pure observation — of how the animal reacts; in scurrying away, what route does it take?  What avoidance tactics are engaged?  In suburbia, you can no longer shoot a rabbit within the confines of the city limits, but there is no law that prevents you from doing what the American Indians were so good at — chasing one down, swooping with a strong arm and grabbing those pointed ears, all for a good lunchtime meal.

But of the other “rabbits” we pursue — of careers at the cost of our health, of tangential distractions that ultimately provide no foundational meaning in determining the destiny of sanctified thoughts and goals.

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, chasing rabbits is a familiar refrain — not because it is being done in various acts of futility, but because the rabbit itself is not just any ordinary rabbit, and doesn’t follow the standard paradigm of “rabbit-hood”.

For, it becomes clear that the very nature of the rabbit has changed — the Agency no longer recognizes that your years of toil and loyalty should mean anything; coworkers whisper and spread gossip; the level of productivity is declining; you are using “too much” Sick Leave or LWOP; the rabbit you are chasing doesn’t quite act in the same way, and you begin to wonder, Is it even worth pursuing?

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit that is there for the Federal or Postal employee who has finally come to the realization that not every rabbit is worth pursuing, and not every rabbit leads to a satisfying meal.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is likely the next best step in catching the rabbit of choice.  Now, for which rabbit hole to jump into …

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

How much OPM Disability Retirement Pays?

“What will the benefit pay?”  That is often the primary concern of a Federal or Postal employee who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and it is certainly a valid first question.

The greater concern that cannot be overlooked, however, is the one that involves calculating the cost of NOT filing.  In the end, those Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have three fundamental options: Stay put; resign and do nothing (or wait for termination/separation proceedings to occur, which amounts to the same thing); or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

The benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is quite simply calculated as 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year (offset by 100% of any Social Security Disability benefits received during the concurrent payments received) and 40% of the average every year thereafter (offset by 60% of any Social Security Disability payments received during those years), until age 62, at which point the Federal Disability annuity is recalculated as “regular retirement” based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that the disability retiree has been on Federal Disability Retirement.

Thus, the “greater” benefit in calculating the cost has to take into account the fact that one is actually “building up” one’s own retirement by the years one stays on disability retirement — for, those very years that you are receiving a disability retirement annuity count towards the total number of years of Federal Service when it is recalculated as “regular” retirement at the age of 62.

Yes, it is true that on the cost/benefit ledger that one should review before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, you need to take into account the lesser income and the lengthy bureaucratic process that must be engaged, but you should also never forget what the originating basis for considering such filing compelled the consideration in the first place: Your health.

Calculating the cost of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits too often places the emphasis on what is lost — in terms of monetary gain and loss, etc.  But in calculating the cost of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted and considered to and by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the primary issue involves one’s deteriorating health and whether you can continue to remain in a job which has clearly become inconsistent with the medical conditions one is suffering from.

In the end, calculating the cost must go beyond the lessening of income; it must calculate the cost of one’s health, which is the single greatest asset one possesses.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing 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, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Employee Disability Retirement: Fathoms and farthings

They are words seldom used by ordinary people, and are instead found within contexts now of limited usage except by reference to anachronistic novels and reference manuals, or perhaps in sea-faring settings where such terms are related to between seasoned old-timers in the field.

The former term refers to the unit of measurement for the depth of the ocean’s topography; the latter, a unit of currency so small as to have become obsolete by now with the inflationary course of history having relegated such amounts to irrelevancy, and ceasing to be recognized as legal tender by 1960.  Besides, it was a “foreign” currency as well, and was not a currency used in current usage within recognizable current vintage, anyway (yes, yes, a bad attempt at alliteration and a play on words).

What do they have in common?  They both measure a unit of X, of course; they are also words that have “meaning” only within certain contexts, whether of specialized oceanographic particularization or, as to the latter, within a historical context if one were writing a play, screenplay, novel or short story that included anywhere from the Victorian to the Elizabethan periods.  It is a reminder to us all that words come in and out of “meaning” and relevance based upon the context given and recognized.

Language games”, as the term Wittgenstein ascribed, retain their relevance and applicability depending upon the context of the usage adopted.

It is no different when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal or Postal employee, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Suddenly, the Federal or Postal employee is thrown into a “language game” that has been ongoing for decades, but is new to the Federal or Postal employee who must prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Such terms as “The Bruner Presumption”, “viable accommodation attempts”, “Persuasive legal effect of other disability ratings,” etc., come into play.  Yes, you may be able to research and understand some of the terms, but the particularization and the anachronism of such terms may come back to haunt you unless you, as the Federal or Postal employee trying to submit an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, can fully comprehend the specialized nature of this complex process called Federal Disability Retirement.

For, like fathoms and farthings, it may be best to consult an attorney who has a long experience with such terms and usage in order to better heighten the chances of a First Stage Approval from OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire