Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The realization

In most cases, it is not as dramatic a moment as we all tend to think; it is rarely “The X”, as in the penultimate juncture of enlightenment where the “The” is prefatory to the noun, as opposed to a more general article such as, “A realization” — meaning, one among others, or just another one amidst many.

Most such moments are not “Aha” ones, where there is a sudden and profound revelation, like the proverbial Road to Damascus experience or the Gestalt shift in thinking.  Instead, the realization of X is more often than not subtle, incremental and a slow progression towards an acknowledgment, observable and quantifiable over a period of many months or years.  Whether we make it into a momentous period, a critical juncture in our lives, or as one of many tokens of change often depends upon how we view each segment that results in a modification of a life judged in its totality.

Aristotle’s belief is that a person’s life cannot be fully evaluated until much later in life.  Indeed, what do we make about a person’s career, reputation and overall “life” when a critical mistake is made at the beginning — say, in the early years of youth when one is more susceptible to the vicissitudes of emotional upheavals and pursuance of desires without thought?  Or, of the fool who, in old age, does something similarly rash?  Do we make an evaluation at the eulogy and excuse the one bad bit?

Something like, “Now, we all knew X.  He was a great man.  He had, of course, that one incident, but …”.  Is it better to have the negative incident occur early in life so that you can rectify and redeem for the remainder?  Or, is it more acceptable and palatable to live an exemplary life, then commit an error in later life so that you can excuse it as the “folly of age”?

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 the Federal or Postal employee’s job and duties, “the realization” that something has to change will mostly come about over a period of time — incrementally, perhaps even subtly, and then one day there is a determination that has to be made that priorities of life need to be reordered and modifications to a life of struggle necessitates modifications.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the necessary next step after such a realization.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application is the natural course of events once the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that change must occur.

Consulting with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is also a good next step — for that points to the realization that not all things in the universe are known, and some things may need some further guidance in pursuit of a gargantuan effort required to go up against a behemoth of a bureaucracy — OPM.

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

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Working to preclude

Aren’t most of us perennially, incessantly, constantly and by chronic despair in that “emergency mode” of operating through life?

We are working to preclude: Some imagined disaster; some trouble just around the corner; some depth of a hole we cannot dig ourselves out of; and some problem that we are thinking about that is developing that we are not yet aware of.  Few of us actually work with a positive attitude to build; fewer still with a confidence that tomorrow will bring some answers; and rarely, of that person who does not work to preclude.  Caution is the mainstay of a troubled past that left a child anxious, uncertain, self-conscious and entirely lacking of self-confidence.

That is why that wide arc of “self-esteem” training that began to spread about in the classrooms and throughout communities took hold – in the false belief if we just kept saying to a child, “You are worthy” or poured accolades and trophies just for showing up, that somehow we would counteract the deep imprints left upon the cuts and scars that were perpetrated by homes of divorce, emotional devastation and incompetent parents.

Working to preclude is often a form of sickness; it is the constant scrambling to try and play prevent defense, and how often have we seen an NFL game where the team that scores first and many times ends up losing because they spent the rest of the game working to preclude?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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 constant effort in working to preclude the Federal Agency from putting you on a Performance Improvement Plan (acronym “PIP”), issuing a letter of warning, or proposing a removal based upon excessive absenteeism, being on LWOP for too long, or for poor performance, leaves a hollow feeling of an uphill battle that can never ultimately be won.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a step away from working to preclude – it is, instead, a positive first step towards securing a future that is otherwise as uncertain as one’s efforts in working to preclude.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Plan of Attack

Every battle requires a “plan of attack“, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is no less an “adversarial” process than a lawsuit filed with the local county court.

One may embellish and deny by describing the process as “nothing more” than an “administrative” procedure, where the deciding agency is merely reviewing the components for “eligibility requirements” and conformance to entitlement regulations, but one needs only to be denied a Federal Disability Retirement application to realize that it is a legal process just like any other.

That is why, when a Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Level of the process, the usual response is tantamount to that of an opponent who lacked a plan of attack and quickly disburses in a retreat of panic.

Denials should be expected, and not necessarily because of a lack on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant, but because the “enemy” will counterattack and “win” some “battles”.  The army which never considers a setback is one which advances with such arrogance that the hubris of pride defeats without the enemy ever needing to lift a finger.

For those Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who filed for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and who thought that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application was an unconquerable force of inevitability, the good news is that there is another day yet to come for a new battle, and even another beyond that, where a singular defeat means merely a chance to regroup for another day’s skirmish in order to win the ultimate prize:  the war itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Carpet Bombing

It is an approach meant to saturate an identified area of enemy territory especially recognized as any and all potentialities related to the central target.  The antonym of such an approach is one of targeted precision, such as drone strikes represented by guided missiles upon a specific individual or area of identified combatants.

In either case, collateral damage can be expected; the difference is that in the former methodology, the invading forces remain unconcerned and unperturbed, as it is fully expected; in the latter, the term “precision” has its narrow focus, but with the real-world recognition that general public consumption likes to think that when a targeted focus is declared dead, the rubble of destruction didn’t extend to the entire block surrounding the individual’s living area, when in fact it did and almost always does.  The concepts thus have differing distinctions; in linguistic and semantical disputes, the issue often has to do with the methodological approach of effectiveness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the former approach of “carpet bombing” is often the preferred choice, as opposed to the latter perspective of “precision bombing”.  That is exactly why Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who prepare an OPM Disability Retirement application often attach a massive volume and compendium of medical reports and records, hoping to “hit the target” just by sheer coverage of length and width of evidence.

But the old proverb referring to the depth of a body of water, as opposed to the appearance of naked body surface, remains applicable and instructive.  And while the skin may be the largest organ of the human body, covering some 22 square feet in space, the loss of a great portion of it still allows for survival, whereas the heart of a man must remain generally intact, lest the flow of the essence of life becomes restricted or cease altogether.

Precision in every approach and methodological conveyance is almost always the preferred mode; and while systematic formulations in an OPM Disability Retirement case may involve greater input, expansive time and attention in properly preparing the effective Federal Disability Retirement case, the preparation spent in fine-tuning every Federal Disability Retirement application and its compendium of attachments will result in limited collateral damage, with the consequence of allowing others to survive another day despite living within the vicinity of the targeted point of attack.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Causal Contingency

If X, then Y; but the problem is that most of us want to skip over the predicated contingency, and move directly to the conclusion without the necessary and sufficient satisfaction of attending to the prerequisite of X.  The consequences of such inaction, or impatience in order to achieve the end-goal, is that when the subversive act of avoidance and disregard results in the inevitable and disastrous compulsion of causal catastrophe, we then attempt to “make up” for “lost time”, and quickly engage in band-aid devices to try and rectify the original misdeed.

Some things in life just don’t work that way; in fact, despite the insistence by millennials that longterm foundations don’t matter (either because the gods are dead, life is absurd, or self-centeredness will get us through the day), it is the artisan and the craftsman who, when the technological innovations and newfangled fads whisper into the fading glow of yesterday’s moonshine, retains the longevity of sustenance and substantive accord.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact and prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the inclination is to panic, to rush around like a chicken with its head lopped off by a prowling owl of the dawn skies, and to quickly formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application and submit it through one’s own Human Resource Office (if still with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated but not more than 31 days thereafter) or directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if separated for more than 31 days but not more than 1 year after the separation or termination date).  But the operative word in such a scenario is ensconced in the term, “prepare”.

To achieve an effective Federal Disability Retirement application outcome, one must prepare, formulate and file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits.  To jump over the “preparation” part, and to merely formulate and file, results in the disastrous outcome foreseeable and foreseen.  Just ask Jack, who still reels from the burn marks as he tried to jump over the candlestick.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Flavor of Our Times

Each generation has a flavor of the times — that obscure and fuzzy sense of “something” beyond which one cannot quite describe, but nevertheless leaves a distinctive aftertaste that remains and cannot be washed away.  Hypocrisy may come close to identifying it — of saying one thing, meaning another; of using words and virtual reality in order to conceal the true motive and intentions.  We see it in our politicians, in newspapers and neighborly barbecues; as truth is not the sought-after goal, and as relativism and the capacity to perform linguistic gymnastics at every turn of words, so the natural consequence of our deeds should not surprise us.  We claim empathy, but act indifferently; we teach our kids grandiose belief-systems, then act surprised when rebellion monitors the day.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the stark reality of what they hear as the “official” pronouncement of one’s agency, as opposed to the practical and day-to-day occurrence and action in “real time”, is like the echoing chasm of a hollow pit which reverberates with each unintelligible sound.  All of the rules and regulations promulgated for public consumption about protecting the rights of disabled Federal employees sound like collected baseball cards reserved for showing off to guests who are gullible enough to gasp with excitement over items of dubious value; but it is the “behind-the-scenes” reality of how individuals treat each other, which tells the true story of shame, deceit and indifference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the gap between declared public policy and the reality of that insular shame, is a daily recognition of man’s inhumanity to his or her fellow man or woman.  Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers experience this violation daily.  That is why opting to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best, only, and remaining self-preservation option, to secure one’s future and to separate from Federal Service with a semblance of dignity.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, allows for the Federal or Postal employee to obtain a base annuity, then go into the private sector and begin to pursue a second, or third, vocation of choice.  It is not an abandonment of one’s principles, nor a retreat from one’s beliefs. That was already accomplished years ago, when the flavor of our times became the official stance of an uncaring system which betrayed the dedicated Federal or Postal employee merely because of a medical condition beyond one’s control.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire