Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: That child we remember

It is as if we hold, within the inner eye of one’s consciousness, a fading photograph of an innocent, pure child – that child we remember before…

Before what?

Perhaps, the breaking up of a romanticized recollection of an intact home; or a period of natural rebelliousness marking a distancing from the carefree hugs, kisses and unselfconscious holding of hands, when puberty becomes the demarcation point of silly alienation; or maybe just before simply entering into the world of cynicism and loss of innocence.

Afterwards, does it continue to provide a positive impact to carry about the mind’s eye a picture of that child we remember?

After what?

After a lifetime of human encounters reflecting the soil of evil, meanness, indelicate indifference and manipulative motives suspicious of unclean thoughts and insensitive undercurrent of capricious targeting.  In those instances, how does one remain pure and reflect the innocence of that child we remember, without becoming destroyed in the process and becoming a mirror image of that which we attempted to resist throughout our lives?  For, isn’t that the fight we strive throughout – of trying not to be like the uncaring parents who neglected, the failed relationships we tried and the backstabbing friendships that we discovered too late?

We try and harken back to that child we remember, knowing always that we will never quite ever recapture that moment forever lost, and simultaneously recognizing that it is not an achievable goal, and even something not necessarily desirable to attain.  Yet, in the subconscious of our private and compartmentalized souls, we always hold an image of that child we remember, and believe that somewhere in the essence of our very souls, there is that remnant of a spark that has survived the evil detritus of the world around us.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the realization that the end of a promising career may soon come to fruition will often recall that child we remember, if only because the uncertain future which looms ahead parallels the innocent fear that the child of yesteryear felt with trembling insecurity just before…

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, is the next step to protect one’s future before proceeding to the next stage of one’s life, and the process of enhancing one’s chances for a successful maneuver through the complex bureaucratic maze at OPM is best accomplished by consulting an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, and to help keep the flame alive of promises kept for that child we remember.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The limited reservoir

What if the reserve is limited, but we are never informed of it?  Perhaps the gods, fate or however the source of creation is defined, has placed a quota upon the extent of that which is expended, but we are never included in the corporate decision-making process – then, what?  Death, insanity or just plain debilitation and stoppage of activity; is that what we call “an unfortunate end”?

By “reservoir”, we normally mean that natural or artificial accumulation that is used for a specified purpose – the town’s water supply; a special cache of good wines; or perhaps, even that sixth player who is left sitting (a temporary “bench warmer” – though, perhaps in this climate of everyone being nice to each other, such terms are no longer considered appropriate) aside until a burst of fresh input is needed.

Concurrently, we expect that any depletion from the cistern is consistently replenished, except during periods of extreme droughts when we are forced to systematically make use of it with the justification that it is that for which we reserved it in the first place, and when times are better, we will take care in replacing that which seemed limitless just an eon ago.  And, why is it that when the main tank has been completely re-filled, we have a tendency towards excess and lavish spending, but when we hit the “reserve” indicator, suddenly we act with frugal caution and become responsible conservationist?

Is it because of our hereditary backgrounds as hunters and gatherers during a time of unknown and tenuous circumstances, when bodies hungrily stored fat in order to survive during those times of want and scarcity?

What if we are left with a limited number of words in life, and once expended, we become transformed into unnoticed mutes wandering across time, traversing the silence amidst others who have saved their reserve for future accessibility?

Life often “feels” like that – of having reached a point of depletion where the quota has been reached, the reservoir has been emptied, and the excess energy expired.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, it often seems as if the reservoir needed in order to reach that golden mark when retirement age and cumulative years of Federal Service coalesce to allow for passing across the proverbial “finish line”, has been too early depleted.

Unfortunately, medical conditions hasten the reservoir of time, energy, patience and capacity to withstand the daily toil of workplace stresses and employment concerns, and there is often a need to access an alternate source of supply.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for that; it is a means to recognizing that the reservoir is limited, and that the medical condition has reached a critical point where replenishment is no longer an option.  Yet, even after a Federal Disability Retirement is achieved, the Federal and Postal worker can go out into the private sector and remain productive, and under the law, is allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, and still maintain employment and receive the annuity.

For, while the reservoir of one’s life and talents may indeed be limited, it is the limitation of self-imposed stubbornness in refusing to acknowledge that the medical condition has reached a critical point, that often defeats and depletes long before the fuel gauge indicates a warning light of that ever-blinking “danger” point.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Price of Admission

Private entities charge more; exclusive arenas tend to be out of reach; and it is, ultimately and as in all economic realities, determined by an admixture of supply (how many are allowed) and demand (how desirous is the goal of entrance and acceptance).  For every admittance, there is a price to pay.  Often, it is not merely the affirmative transfer of money or goods, but rather, the negative aspect of what one must “give up” in order to attain the end.  It often involves a comparative analysis, an economic evaluation of gain versus loss, and in the end, the emptiness of the latter being overtaken by the value of the former.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to awaken an awareness that one’s career may be coming to the twilight of that lengthy, successful run, it is often that “price of admission” which makes one hesitate.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must 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, the question is double-sided:  the price one “has been” paying to remain as a Federal or Postal employee, as opposed to the loss of employment status, or becoming an “ex-member” of that exclusive club.

Change always portends a trauma of sorts; the medical condition and the revelation of vulnerability, mortality and progressive debilitation was in and of itself crisis of identity; but when it becomes clear that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and that further changes to one’s career and livelihood must by necessity occur, then the avalanche of reality’s namesake begins to dawn.

The price of admission for one’s health, ultimately, is priceless; and that is the reality which one must face when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The 1956 version of the film (the only one worth watching) was in black & white, and created a sensation among French Existentialists for the greatest horror committed upon a human being:  to strip one of all human emotion, and transform the person into a robotic automaton of sorts.

Camus’ novel, The Stranger, reveals a similar theme through the titular character, Meursault, where the absurdity of life, the indifference of humanity, all serve to compel him to commit a murder without reason or rationale, in a universe without emotion — until the very end when, faced with the certainty of the guillotine, he responds with rage at a chaplain who wants him to atone for his sins.

Life itself can be the slow drip-drip-drip of stripping one of emotions, somewhat like spores which fall and turn into seed pods, and slowly attaches, drains, and diminishes the uniqueness of the individual; or like the greater absurdity of performing apparently meaningless tasks, where a sense of separateness and division occurs as a chasm between worth and work, as when Sisyphus rolls the boulder up the hill, only to see it slither back down the other side.

Medical conditions sometimes awaken us from the slumber of absurdity.  It is in and of itself an anomaly of sorts, to have to face the mortality and fragility of one’s life, thereby unraveling thoughts of worthiness in a world devoid of care, empathy or concern.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, is a step taken to climb out of that chasm or void of dissipating meaningfulness.  For, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s capacity and ability to continue bringing meaning and purposefulness to a job, within a context of an agency which shows indifference and outright animosity, it is time to escape the alien pods and devise an escape route from the invasion of the body snatchers.

It is like Sartre’s quip that Hell “is other people” — of that moment when a person looks through a keyhole and views another as a mere object, then senses someone else behind, and realizes that you were being watched watching others as an object, only to be considered as an object as well.  Similarly, when a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service begins to treat the Federal or Postal employee as a fungible object of nominal worth, it is time to seek and monetize one’s worth at another location, another context, a different venue.

Medical conditions demean and diminish in multiple ways:  one’s own consciousness recognizes the devaluation of being “less than whole”; others begin to approach and treat with trepidation; and Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service fail to accommodate according to the laws already in place.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a means to an end.  The “means” requires an affirmative step by the Federal or Postal employee to traverse from the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service by beginning the preparation and formulation for filing of an OPM Disability Retirement application; the “exit” is the concerted effort to run afar from those spores from heaven, as the body snatchers who drain life and vitality through the keyhole of sanity where absurdity and meaning clash in a titanic battle for human worth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire