FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The Body

It is a mechanically extraordinary creation, whether by means of transcendental creation or evolutionary process — the bipedaling human body. The ability and capacity of balance and coordination; the acuity of the human mind and its quickness in information processing; the amazing functionality of dexterous hands and adaptability to quickly changing environments.

It is perhaps because of the success of that which is given, that we take for granted what we possess, and in the very taking for granted of something, allowing for the abuse of that which we never earned, has been one of the greatest calamities for human beings.  To test the extent of endurance, strength and limitation of capacity is one thing; to abuse beyond what a thing was meant for, is quite another.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, where the medical condition has arrived at a crisis point of deterioration, incapacity and intractability, it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, precisely because one does not wish to cross the line into “abuse” of one’s body.

It is all well and good to come to the point of testing the extent of one’s human capacity; but once the limit is met, the need for restorative recuperation must be embraced.

Federal and Postal workers have a reputation for hard work and endurance, including patience beyond being a virtue; but there is another component beyond the human body which one is gifted with — that of one’s brain.  It is a functional component which should be used in consonance with the body, but it requires thoughtful quiescence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Need versus Necessity

Needs can be variegated, and can be satisfied partially, delayed for further fulfillment at a later time and event, or controlled by sheer will and self-discipline.  They can also depend upon the particular individual, circumstance and personality and/or character of an individual.  They can vary based upon the subjective perspectives of an individual.

Necessity, by contrast, implies an objective determination of a mandated requirement.  It is not to be questioned; it is unequivocally “needed”.  As a prerequisite for completion of a linear production line, a necessary cause, while perhaps insufficient in and of itself to satisfy the entirety of the sequence of events, is nevertheless a required X in order to even consider the completion to Y.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that the medical illness or injury impacts one’s performance, for a time — undetermined, perhaps, in the beginning of the process — Federal Disability Retirement benefits, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may merely be viewed as a need, and therefore one which may be delayed, considered, and perhaps looked upon merely as one option among others.

As the medical condition continues to progressively deteriorate, it is the seriousness of the nexus between the medical condition and one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, which ultimately begins to determine the need and transform it into a necessity.

Whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must make that time of determination — that personal choice — of when the transformation occurs; but because Federal Disability Retirement takes on average 8 – 10 months to obtain, from the start of the process to its conclusion, it is well not to wait for the transformation from “need” to “necessity”, to be further characterized as the third step in the evolution — one of critical crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Weeds in Our Lives

Weeds are irritants.  Ecologically, they contain erosion and the loss of soil; but in the suburban paradigm of our lives, they represent the unruliness in an otherwise pristine and antiseptic face-lift of our artificial lives.

Weeds also represent an unwanted intrusion into the image we create; further, they have deep roots, and even if torn out and discarded, have the ability to regenerate.  In that metaphorical vein, they stand for the very things which we desire to uproot, but continue to cling to, despite our best efforts.

In considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal worker will often cling to the weeds which have overwhelmed one’s life.  Once, perhaps, in years gone by, such weeds may have been the beautiful flowers one had planted and tended to with affection and care; but the weeds have now invaded and enveloped the areas which once were the showpiece of one’s life.

The acknowledgement itself may be the most difficult; to admit that one’s career, job, vocation, etc., with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service is now the weed which must be uprooted and discarded, is often the most trying and difficult of decisions to make.  But like the weed with the vast and endless root system beneath the terrain of appearance, merely breaking off the stem will not solve the problem.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Silent Sufferer

The silent sufferer rarely gets noticed; but, of course, that is the whole point.  It is analogous in an inverse manner to the childhood adage that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  From a purely philosophical, conceptually vacuous standpoint, how does one “show” pain?  How does one reveal the inner turmoil of Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or a Bipolar Disorder?

Certainly, physical manifestations of uncontrollable tremors, trembling, etc., can be indicators; but the more complex state of psychiatric conditions which are negatively reflected to the world — of paralysis from action; of lethargy; of an overwhelming “sense” of worthlessness and hopelessness; where stamina or energy, self-motivation and initiative, cannot simply be forced; rather, one is lifeless in a world of activity and sensory overload, not because one cannot self-will movement and progress, but because one is mentally and physically unable to act upon one’s volition.

It is, ultimately, the age-old question of Appearance versus Reality.  So, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question to be answered is not whether an effective description creating a nexus of one’s medical conditions with one’s positional duties as a Federal or Postal employee should be assembled; rather, the question is how.  One must overcome the appearance of normalcy, by cracking open the reality of the underlying medical condition, and to bring forth, as Heidegger would put it, the uncovering of the reality of Being — by using selective words to reveal to the OPM Representative the starkness of one’s medical conditions.

Eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be proven; in order to prove it, one must show the reality of the Real, as opposed to the silence and concealment of that which is mere Appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Time and Clarity

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, two primary elements must be shown:  A.  That one suffers from a medical condition such that the medical disability prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and B.  That the medical condition will last for a minimum of twelve (12) months.  This second part of the requirement — the 12 month period — can bring about some interesting issues.

Despite the simplicity of what it requests in terms of information, the issue is often confused and confusing.  Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will often wonder whether one has to be “out of work” for a period of 12 months before even filing (somewhat similar to SSDI, where one must be out of work for a specified period of time) — but that is not what the statute requires.  What is required is merely that the medical condition must have a duration of at least 12 months, and so a prognosis should suffice — i.e., if the medical condition suffered has lasted for 5 months, say, and the doctor provides a prognosis that it will continue for a minimum of 2 – 3 more years, and perhaps permanently, that should satisfy the legal requirement of a medical condition lasting for a minimum of 12 months.

On the other hand, when the doctor states that it has lasted since X date and will be a “permanent” condition, that should also satisfy the legal requirement.  However, OPM will often fail to comprehend what “permanent” means, and will deny a case based upon the fact that the “12 month period” has not been met.

Further, the issue of “when” a medical condition began is an interesting one, because if one goes too far back, then that may show that despite the medical condition, the Federal or Postal employee has been able to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  The question is thus not one of “when the medical condition began”; rather, the question is one of “when did the medical condition prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.”

Clarity is the key, always, and when one is dealing with Claims Specialists at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management who are reading multiple files day after day, and confusing and confounding one with the other, making certain that the medical reports, legal arguments and Applicant’s Statement of Disability are clearly and concisely delineated, will help to guide OPM to a proper and successful decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Government Employees: The Duration of a Medical Condition

In being eligible for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity from the Office of Personnel Management, one of the basic criteria which must be met for eligibility determination is that a medical condition, its symptomatologies and impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, must last for a minimum of 12 months.  

As a practical matter, the medical condition normally lasts for much longer, and is quite often a chronic, progressively deteriorating condition.  If the medical condition is expected to last for a short period of time, then the Federal or Postal employee must seriously consider whether filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is “worth it”, inasmuch as it often takes 8 – 10 months to obtain an approval from the Office of Personnel Management for the First Stage of the process.  

As such, for most Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, there is an implicit acknowledgement and understanding the the medical condition itself is one of chronicity, debilitating in nature, and often progressively deteriorating.  

The fact that a medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months, however, does not mean that a Federal or Postal employee should wait for the 12 months to pass before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  That would, upon reflection, be a cruel absurdity — to have to wait for 12 months, then to file and wait about 10 months before the Office of Personnel Management makes a decision, and all of this, only at the First Stage of the process. No — the legal standard is that the medical condition must be “expected” to last a minimum of 12 months; meaning, thereby, that a doctor can normally make a reasonable prognosis as to the duration, chronicity and future behavior of the medical condition; and this can normally be accomplished soon after the identification of a particular medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Right Time

For each Federal and Postal employee, there is a “right” time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS.  By “right time”, I do not mean as to the proper timing in the actual filing of a Federal Disability Retirement case — i.e., whether it should be before or after separation from service, whether at the end of the year, the beginning of the year, etc.  No, by “right” time, I refer to the time when a Federal or Postal employee — that person who has put in all of those many years of loyal service, managed through pain, discomfort, overwhelming stresses, anxieties, fears, chronic and intractable pain, etc. — comes to the conclusion that he or she cannot continue in this mode of existence anymore.  Whether or not a Federal Disability Retirement case is filed with an agency or at the Office of Personnel Management in one month as opposed to another, is ultimately not of great importance; whether a person who is suffering from a medical condition for months, or years, and has been adept at hiding the daily pain and suffering — whether that person has come to a decision that it is now the “right time” to file for disability retirement, makes all the difference.  Each person must find that right time.  “How” and “when” are the two questions which must be answered, and only the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS can answer such questions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire