OPM Medical Retirement Benefits: Of human endurance

We marvel at the cheetah, at the graceful way in which it can outrun a prey, overtake it with such effortless ease and kill its target with efficiency and purposive aplomb; but of a longer race, we all know that only endurance can defeat such focus of a killing machine.

Endurance is the unique reserve of human beings; for, what other animal can withstand the overload of stimuli bombarding each of us on a daily, persistent and incessant basis?

The city dweller who must contend with the noises unrelenting from all directions; even a drive through the countryside requires such focus and concentration to avoid pitfalls and potholes; and, of course, daily living in the modern era can no longer allow for a quiet, plodding existence in a pastoral setting where the milkman arrives to deliver morning freshness and the bells of a church can toll in the midday sun of lazy summers.

Of human endurance we think is limitless, and so technology marches on, ever creating faster and more efficient interconnections, and with each new invention we are told that — not only will it save us time and allow for greater comfort — hardships will resolve and melt away.

Certainly, the minimal technology has brought comfort to us all — you know, those things we take for granted, such as electricity, central heating, air conditioning, etc.  But of the Internet — of this constant need to be “connected”, and to amass hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of “followers” or “friends”; of human endurance, can it be withstood?

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, it is the test of human endurance that is often the issue.  For, how much more can a person stand?

Things were once going “smoothly” — if by “smoothly” is meant that one’s existence with the balance between work, family, rest and health had been maintained within a tenuous string of efficiency and lack of disruption.  But once the medical condition was added to the mix, suddenly the test of human endurance was being stretched beyond its limitations.

That is what FERS Disability Retirement is meant to alleviate — the overload of stimuli, responsibilities, the proverbial “to-do list”, etc., in order to focus upon the one thing that both cheetahs and human beings require in order to test the limits of endurance: health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The inchoate life

The problem is often the perspective, and not the reality.  Somehow, human beings walk about this earth with the expectation that fulfillment is in the “now” and development is merely something ascribed to babies, yogurt and African nations on a far away continent of timeless immaturity.  Potentiality; the consistency of growth; and, even in old age, despite the deterioration and degeneration of cellular expansion, our lives represent an inchoate and rudimentary structure such that we have to constantly strive to grow.

Yet, somehow, we mistakenly believe in so many fictions; that the senior prom is the fulfillment of all things important; that graduation from college represents the pinnacle of our education except for those few who go on to graduate schools (which is now more common than even a decade before because of the intense economic challenges and competition); that the present job is the treadmill upon which success or failure reflects; and that, in old age, decrepitude and endless agony awaits us all.

All of us, in the end, are imperfectly formed and in the constant process of becoming formulated; yet, by our impatience and desire for fulfillment, we deny the very existence of the part-existence of our very Being.  And so we cry out in protest when a medical condition hits us and prevents us from being or doing that which we believe we were destined for; and like the shrill screams of hungry coyote in the wind-swept plains of a desolate landscape, we dream in solitude as the howls of time obscure the pain of suffering.

What dreams we once held; the journey from form to content; the need to accomplish, excel and fulfill; these are all human characteristics which bring out the best in us.  But reality is also a discourse where interruptions and interludes occur, and the reality is that most of us never fulfill the potential of our lives, and that is okay, especially when the circumstances intervening are beyond that which we have the ability or capacity to control. The inchoate life is seen throughout the many unmarked graves and tombstones lying in quietude of silent anonymity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who realize that careers chosen, dreams yet unfulfilled and goals unachieved, the medical conditions that interrupt are merely reminders to us all that the inchoate life cannot be avoided.  Priorities must be set; a different path may be required.

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, is merely another step in the many steps of a Chinese proverb, and the inchoate life is just another movement, a stir and a wrinkle in so many lives yet to reach the completeness of a destiny still to call in the wilds of a lone wolf speaking to the full moon of purposeful lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The importance of seeing a way out

The strategic approach of allowing for a route of retreat is well-known; by providing an exit option, casualties are lessened and the proportional ferocity of battle often parallels the availability or non-existence of such a pathway out.

Cornered animals behave in the same way – and why would they not?  Do we think that we are somehow exempt from the genetic predisposition of Darwinian inherency?  And the cornered enemy who sees no exit – with the final bullet retained for self-annihilation, the option of surrender not a reality for the traitorous residue to such an act, or of the potential for torture and mutilation naturally following revenge upon actions taken previously; or a kamikaze-like final hurrah met with a hail of bullets; it is the importance of seeing a way out, that often determines the course of future conduct.

That is how the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker views the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement:  as the “way out” of an otherwise untenable future course.  Without it, the options are often:  Die trying to get to work each day; resign with nothing to show for the many years of investing in one’s career in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service.

What is so interesting in engaging Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers for multiple decades, now, is the singular and unassailable fact that is contrary to the misperception held by the general public:  Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers are among the most dedicated of workforce servants, putting in long and uncompensated hours beyond what they are required, and never wanting to take the “exit option” but for the chronic and severe nature of a rising and debilitating medical condition.  And, how many who obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity go on into the private sector and “pay back” into the very system from which they are being compensated the Disability Retirement annuity?  Many, if not most.

Without the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, many would struggle and ultimately lose the battle either with the agency or the Postal Service, or with the medical condition itself.  Even with the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the pay is not so enticing as to encourage any mass exodus via the vehicle of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, and it is only because of the progressively deteriorating nature of a medical condition that finally impels and compels the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker to take that exit option, and to seek to reach a plateau of rehabilitative serenity such that a further career or vocation in the private sector could be possible.

In the end, like enemies in a fierce firefight, the importance of seeing a way out is just as relevant to the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, as it is to the kamikaze warrior who tightens the band of fate by an emblematic headscarf in preparation for the final battle.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: Agency Adverse Actions

Calamities coalesce in concurrent coordinated couplings; often enough in life, when one action is engaged, another follows in reactive reflection.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who has a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the necessity to, or mere hint of the need to, 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, often invokes a concurrent action on the part of the agency.

Whether such actions are mere coincidences (unlikely); retaliatory (a good chance); or deliberatively intentional (often enough) is anyone’s guess.  Trying to figure out the underlying motivation of agencies is merely a waste of one’s valuable time; what to do with the agency’s adverse actions, is the more productive approach to embrace.

The argument that finds some precedence for OPM in arguing against a Federal Disability Retirement case, is that somehow the Federal Disability Retirement application was merely a pretense to avoid termination, and thus is somehow invalidated.  But, in fact, the reverse can be argued as well:  Because of the medical condition, the agency’s adverse actions reflect the poor performance, the excessive taking of SL, LWOP, etc., and irrefutably confirms the validity of the Federal Disability Retirement filing.

What the agency’s adverse action states; how it is characterized; what surrounding correspondence exists; and the extent of one’s medical documentation around the time of the agency’s actions, and prior to, are all important components in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire