OPM Medical Retirement: Days of Sisyphean Drudgery

The Myth of Sisyphus is well known, both because of the philosophical essay written by Camus, as well as through the Greek mythological narrative of the condemned figure to toil in endless meaninglessness, by rolling the boulder up the hill, only to watch it go down, and to repeat the process all over again.

For Camus and the existentialist viewpoint, it is in the very act of absurdity itself that meaning and significance can be derived; for the Greek citizen of yesteryear, it was perhaps the circularity of the human condition which provided for relevance in the telling of the myth. In either extrapolation, the powerful and profound story provides for an image of consequence in this modern age of technological overload, where causes are no longer believed in, customs no longer adhered to blindly, and social constraints no longer attached by meaningful obedience.

The absurdity of daily toil has come to a fruition point, where the great expanse of information in the age of the internet now destroys any definitional meaning, either in words, relationships, or for lives and livelihoods.  Crisis points often infuse momentary meaning in meaningless and mindless midpoints; and so, at the pinnacle of balance, just as the boulder meets the midpoint of the hill and balances for a millisecond upon the hill before “deciding” to roll forward, the point of reflective relevance engulfs Sisyphus within a frozen moment of infinity.

Medical conditions often have a similar effect and impact upon a life; for, in the turmoil of trauma, one asks those reflective questions as to the mundane:  what does it all mean?  What is the point?  But perhaps such questions of eternal queries last only for a brief moment in time, before pain, fear, angst and anxiety overtake; and in this physical world where materialism and the scientific narrative prevails and predominates, getting beyond pain and through the day, only to experience insomnia and unsolicited loss of solace is not enough to attain a meaningful existence.

Are there solutions?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, there is a likening of the work performed with the Sisyphean plight of the Greek mythological figure:  the greater bureaucracy representing the scene of turmoil; the medical condition representing the task itself; and the heroic feats of the meaningless in the context of the greater significance of life, surviving medical conditions and getting beyond pain, despondency, depression and anxiety, and the exit one attempts to find in order to escape from such a condition, leads one to that moment of absurdity and balance of the boulder at the pinnacle of the hill.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a way to attain a level of restorative capacity in order to escape the vicious circularity of the toil which only further exacerbates one’s medical condition.

While never the answer to all, obtaining OPM Disability Retirement benefits allows for one to move forward, and to progress beyond the absurd.  Otherwise, the disabled Federal employee or the injured U.S. Postal Worker may find him or herself caught in the web of another narrative put forth by another well-known existentialist philosopher, entitled, No Exit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Balance Tipper

Life requires a series of fine tuning and adjustments; of the balance between work and leisure; when children arrive, of determining priorities, of managing time and recognizing that the things which seemed important to us previously, need to take on a lesser role; of allowing for enough flexibility in order to maintain an equilibrium within a fast-paced world.  But the substantive content which requires controlling the balance of one’s life is not always that which is asked for; it is only the choosing in order to maintain the balance, which is within one’s control.

Sometimes, such choices involve an admixture of good and bad; other times, the options may be severely limited to only negative ones.  For Federal and Postal employees who are beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a critical point of making hard choices.

The balance has already been influenced negatively; the greater amount of one’s time is already being spent on managing the imposition of one’s medical condition; whether in avoiding pain, in going to doctor’s visits, in sleeping excessively, etc.  The proper balance between X and Y has already been “tipped” because of one’s medical condition.

Some other avenue of choice must be gotten, in order to re-balance the content of one’s life.

For Federal and Postal Workers, there is always the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  It is the ultimate balance tipper — in order to allow for the Federal or Postal Worker to have the restorative quietude to attend to one’s medical condition, and yet have a semblance of economic security in order to survive.

Federal Disability Retirement — a balance tipper in a world which often imposes upon our lives, where choices are limited and options narrow the substantive content of what can be done in order to maintain the proper balance in our lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Problem of Perhaps

Perhaps it is time to approach the problem from a different perspective; perhaps it is not.  We often engage in games of self-delusions, of allowing words of self-justification to interfere with sequential and linear lines of thinking, in order to bypass the harsh reality of what is often an inevitability.

The allowance of bifurcation of thought — of the logical disjunctive of choices and options to choose from — makes an allowance of pretense to procrastinate in intellectually acceptable ways.  We sound thoughtful and intelligent when we weigh the various alternatives.  And, indeed, it is normally a “good thing” to gather, review and evaluate the options open to us, and to make the proper decision based upon such an analysis.  But at some point in the process, continuing in a morass of intellectualization becomes problematic.

When the choices are limited, clear, and necessary to act upon, to play the “perhaps” game becomes merely a way to delay the inevitable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must contemplate a drastic change of circumstances by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, engaging in such mind-games merely prolongs the process.  At some point, action must proceed from thought; and for the Federal and Postal Worker whose medical condition is such that it impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, it is the action which must prevail over the perhapses of our mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: After the Storm

Particularized geographical locations will have differing stories.  Rarely are two stories the same, and indeed, that can be the case even between neighbors who are twenty feet apart.  It is the uniqueness of each situation which defines the situation.  A storm can come — whether in terms of the “objective” world, or perhaps through psychological and emotional turmoil —  without but a passing notice to a friend, neighbor, or coworker.

For the Federal or Postal worker contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the “storm” which must be endured is the medical condition itself, and its impact upon one’s livelihood, one’s life, and future stability for one’s family.  It is a process which is independent of one’s geographical location.  It is a condition which, often, coworkers only suspect, and is unfortunately hidden and kept from supervisors and managers, for obvious reasons.

The physical storms which come and go will leave behind a trail of visible devastation; what agencies and supervisors do will often leave residual damage far greater than physical devastation can betray.  It is the storms of daily life which need attending to, as opposed to a one-time life-event.  If that “storm” of a medical condition has come to a flashpoint where one can no longer work at a Federal or Postal position, then it is time to begin preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Only the individual who suffers — silently, and in fear — can make that determination.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Escape from the Morass

The loss of perspective comes at a price:  ever deeper in the morass of self-reflection, one cannot step outside of one’s self in order to attain a viewpoint other than that which one possesses.  That is often how we criticize politicians who have been in Washington for “too long” —  caught within a society of power and appearances, they fail to recognize how “real” people live and struggle.

The acknowledgment of such a perspective (or, to put it more correctly, some would say the “loss of perspective”) is a first step; the second, and more important step, is to do something about it.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important for the Federal or Postal employee to comprehend, understand, and ultimately “see” that there is a way out.

The desperation in the voices of those Federal and Postal employees who have been caught in the morass of the vicious cycle of pain, chronic and deteriorating medical conditions, the self-denigrating perpetual maze of being caught in a web where one can see no future in a job which one cannot perform because of a deteriorating medical condition which one cannot control, can be heard in the description of cries for help.

But the next step in order to escape such a morass is to prepare to formulate a plan, and the first stage of that plan is to decide whether one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  As that old proverb goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Pushing the Reset Button

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is like the proverbial phrase of pushing the “reset” button.  While the phrase is overused and in many ways has lost its useful meaning, the conceptual underpinning implies that it allows for a fresh start.

The decision itself is often the largest hurdle to overcome; once made, it allows for a goal-oriented outlook on a different course of action, and often compels the Federal or Postal worker to manage one’s “life-affairs” with greater determination and incentive, perhaps because one is provided with another proverbial gift:  the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  For, the darkness which pervades is often characterized by the morass of daily pain, the chronicity of the pain, the endless and incessant meaninglessness — of the vicious cycle of coming to work only to survive; then to go home only to recuperate in order to turn right around and go into work for another day of survival; and, often, to an agency which eyes the Federal or Postal worker with suspicion and with little or no loyalty, compassion or sympathy.

Federal Disability Retirement is meant as a mechanism for recuperation from one’s medical condition — a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s particular kind of job, but which will allow for future work in another vocation.  It is the ultimate “reset button” — to allow for the beginning towards a different tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: 2012 and Beyond

The designation of the year as “2012” is, from a historical perspective, an artifice.  Different countries and cultures have other methodologies of identifying the continuum and sequence of the cyclical seasons.  

Whatever the artifice, however, the reality of daily living remains an encounter which must be dealt with, and for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from one or more medical conditions, who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, the first step in the process is often the hardest, but the one which must be taken in order to make any advances for the coming year.  

Whether that “first step” constitutes contacting an attorney, obtaining the blank forms (SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series for FERS employees; for CSRS employees, SF 2801 series and SF 3112 series), talking to one’s treating doctor(s), etc. — it is the first step which is the hardest but the most significant.  

Days advance; weeks go by; the “new” year steadily marches towards the half-way point, then beyond.  Procrastination is often a self-protective mechanism of human beings — but one which is contradictory and often leads to self-harm.  Don’t let the days pass by, lest the year go to waste.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Bruner Revisited

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, one should never pause or hesitate from affirmatively going forward in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application based upon what the Agency will or will not do; is expected or not expected to do; or is predicted or not predicted to do.  One should simply move forward based upon one’s personal and professional circumstances, the extent of the medical condition, the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, etc.  

Thus, for instance, where a Federal or Postal employee has informed the Agency of one’s medical condition, or one has filed for FMLA and submitted substantiating medical documentation, if the plan is to “wait” for the Agency to remove the Federal or Postal employee in order to obtain the advantage of what is generally known as the “Bruner Presumption,” such a plan is normally not the best course of action, for various reasons.  

First, the Agency may take an extraordinary amount of time, and in the end, may attempt to remove the Federal or Postal employee for “other reasons” (performance issues, for instance).  Second, whether or not one “gets” the Bruner Presumption in a case, that legal advantage is really for the Third Stage of the process — at the Merit Systems Protection Board — inasmuch as most of the Claims Reviewers at the Office of Personnel Management are not legally informed enough to know such a legal presumption from a nearby neighbor named John Doe Bruner.  And Third, one must affirmatively prove by a preponderance of the evidence, anyway, that one cannot perform the essential elements of one’s job because of a medical condition.  The Bruner Presumption, while a great thing to have, does not override the medical condition and evidence which must be presented.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The Wait Seems Longer

For those waiting for their Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, pending before the Office of Personnel Management, the wait seems to be getting longer and longer.  Whether at the initial stage of the application process, or at the Reconsideration Stage, OPM is taking longer to make a decision on a pending application.  Everyone, of course, wants his or her application to be the next in line; and, indeed, it is all the more frustrating when an applicant is told that a decision will be made “within the next 2 weeks”, and after the 2-week period comes and passes, still no decision. 

What makes it worse is that, even after an approval, there seems to be longer delays in processing the approved application before payment is received.  Further, even after the “interim” payments begin, there appears to be a longer wait before a case is “finalized” for payment processing.  Each period of delay results in a ripple-effect throughout the system as a whole, and indeed, in these economic times of hardship, it  places an even greater burden upon those who need the financial benefit most — those who are disabled, and who rely upon the benefit of disability retirement payments for their very livelihood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The Time to Make the Decision (Part 1)

Waiting until the last possible moment to start the process to file for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS may be commendable from the Agency’s viewpoint — but is it smart?  If you are a Federal or Postal employee with multiple years of service, and you believe that because you gave your life, your blood, your sweat, tears, and even your firstborn, that therefore you will receive what I often term as “bilateral loyalty” (i.e., an expectation of receipt of loyalty from your agency for having given your undying loyalty to them throughout the years), you might want to reconsider.

If you are exhausting all of your sick leave, using your annual leave, dipping into your TSP in order to “hope” that you will recover from your continuing medical condition, then come to a point where you need to file for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, then come to realize that you must survive for 6 – 8 months, or even longer, and pay an attorney, pay for medical reports, and _______ (here, you may fill in the space yourself), then you may need to re-think the entirety of the process, the time it takes, etc.  Most people know, very early on, whether or not he or she has a medical condition which will last for a minimum of 12 months.  The time to start planning for the future is now.  As a famous football coach once quipped, “The future is now.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire