OPM Disability Retirement: The Walking Anomaly

The identity of a person is represented by a composite of memories held, present activities engaged, and future endeavors planned, thus bringing into a complex presence the times of past, present and anticipated future.  It is because of this walking anomaly — of not just an entity living in the present, but of someone who possesses the retentive capacity of memories past, and plans made and being generated for future actions — that the complexity of the human condition can never be fully grasped.

For the individual, therefore, who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition or disability interferes with the delicate balance of the tripartite composite, the fear of destruction of present circumstances, and diminished ability for future progress, is what complicates matters, in addition to the capacity to remember how things were, which only exacerbates one’s anxiety and angst, in addition to the medical condition itself. It is like being caught eternally in the middle of a three-day weekend: one is saddened by the day already passed; one anticipates an additional day, but the knowledge of the diminishing present makes for realization that the future is merely a bending willow in the winds of change, inevitably able to be swept aside.

For the Federal employee or the Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is that recognition of past performances and accolades, of accomplishments and successes, combined with present potentialities yet unfulfilled, which makes for a tragedy of intersecting circumstances.  Filing for Federal Disability benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, should not, however, diminish the hope for the future.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the impacted Federal or Postal worker to receive an annuity, and continue to remain productive and plan for the future. It is the solution for many Federal employees and Postal workers who are too young to retire, and have invested too much to simply “walk away” with nothing to show for the time of Federal service already measured.

In the end, Federal Disability Retirement may not be the best option, but the only viable option available, and for the walking anomaly known as man, OPM Disability benefits may be the methodology to complete that unfulfilled potentiality yet to be achieved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preexisting Conditions

The Office of Personnel Management will sometimes make the following fallacious argument:  “Because your medical condition appears to have preexisted the time of your Federal Service, and you have been able to perform your job, you are not entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.”  

This argument may take on various forms, with embellishments on the language used, but the argument as quoted represents the essence of what OPM will often state.  While the argument itself makes one scratch one’s head, there are implicit sub-arguments which, if extracted, extrapolated and projected/assumed, may bring one to a better understanding of what OPM is trying to say, and thereby be able to rebut and address such an argument.  The expanded version of the argument goes as follows:  “You had a diagnosed medical condition X prior to beginning your career with the Federal Service (often evidenced by a VA disability rating, or an MRI showing such).  You were placed in job Y, which you were able to do all of these many years.  From the time of your Federal Service to the present, there has been no defining moment or event which reveals that your condition worsened; only that you now state that you cannot perform your job.”  

This expanded version is what OPM is often attempting to argue.  Inasmuch as “pre-existing conditions” are not supposed to be a factor in Federal Disability Retirement cases (as opposed to being one in FECA cases), how does one address it?  By pointing out to the progressively deteriorating nature of the medical condition; by having a discussion with the treating doctor that, over time, a chronic condition can progressively deteriorate the human body, through fatigue, longevity, and chronicity of pain (or a chronic nature of Major Depression, Anxiety, stress, etc.), and such progressive deterioration often arrives at a critical point where, once passed, there is a sudden decline in the ability of a Federal or Postal worker to continue to perform a certain type of work.  

The key to an argument is to reframe the argument, so that one may understand and address it.  Only upon understanding the argument, can one begin to address it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire