OPM Medical Retirement: Life’s mortgage

We all know well the concept behind it – of borrowing against the object itself, in order to “half-possess”, occupy and enjoy it presently against a future promise that it will be paid over an incremental period of time.  Sort of like life itself, or at least of one’s health.  Borrowed time; life’s mortgage; banking on a better tomorrow; relying upon a promise being kept based upon today’s favorable circumstances over a lengthy period of time well into a future we can never be certain about.

Yet, because the collateral is the object itself – normally, the house that is being mortgaged – the loaning institution actually doesn’t take any gamble at all, even if the value of the collateral plunges below the agreed-upon amount to be paid; one is still obligated, no matter what.

It is sort of like life’s challenge itself – of the promise of a promising life based upon an anticipated health that will last until the day when one is suddenly gone.  But life doesn’t always work that way, just as the mortgage, lien and promise of financial growth doesn’t quite always fold out as planned, like the scrolled blueprint that keeps trying to roll back into an obscured cylinder with each attempt to lay it flat.

Sickness occurs; health deteriorates; the 30-year mortgage that was promised at the onset of the contract signed doesn’t unfold as anticipated, and sometimes a default occurs – like the health that deteriorates and the career that must be ended.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, based upon the idea that recognizes that while a long-term commitment to a career is reasonably anticipated, there are instances where such a commitment may need to be modified in the event of failing health.  Unlike the bank’s position in a mortgage-relationship as lender-to-borrower, however, it is not quite all that one-sided.  There are options still open.

Thus, because Federal Disability Retirement requires only that a person be unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position being occupied, the Federal or Postal employee is allowed to go out into the private sector and work at a job somewhat dissimilar (so long as there are “essential elements” which are not identical to the former Federal or Postal position), and make up to 80% of what the former Federal or Postal job pays currently.

For, in the end, life’s mortgage is unlike the home mortgage where the lender holds all of the proverbial cards; at least for the former, the great thing is that the reliance is upon the capacity of man’s ability, and not upon the fine print hidden within the banker’s contract.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The defeating question

It is the question itself which is often “telling”; it informs us of where the line of answering and posited queries is likely to take us.  It is like the map that guides in a certain direction, the compass that informs one of the vantage point of one’s existence or the gravitational pull which pulls in order to remain cohesive with other heavenly bodies; the question itself may not even need an answer.

The latter, of course, is referred to as a “rhetorical” one – that which needs no answer, is asked without necessarily seeking a response, and the one that, standing alone in the silence of an unsolicited reflection, cuts deep into the queried subject in order to provoke a contemplative reaction.  But of the “defeating” question – is it ever asked or, if it is, what is its purposive intent and deliberative content?

It is the one that is avoided, and left unasked because the facts, circumstances and surrounding context will almost always already be known to the inquiring mind.  What is the purpose for which it is asked?

No, not to defeat, but rather, to admit to the already-obvious answer that is readily known, by virtue suspected and thus absented and avoided.  Plagues reported, germs suspected and sneezing people avoided, the defeating question is the one that you already know the answer to, but by the mere fact of not vocally articulating it, is intended to remain unspoken and thus carefully avoided.

It is like the neighborhood bully that requires running after school at full speed over fences and back alleys; and like the dog barking in the early morning requiring one or of the other of the spouses to get up and let out, each hoping that the other will think kindly of the fake snoring and each avoiding the direct obligation and love for the animal itself; the defeating question, once asked, is in danger of being answered and therefore brought “out in the open” for no one to ignore, anymore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may require the Federal or Postal employee to prepare, formulate and 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, the question unasked and avoided, and the one feared as the “defeating question” is quite simply: Do I need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

Already answered.  The only difference is, what is meant by “defeating”, is often within the purview of the inquiring mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Initial Stage

There are multiple stages in a Federal Disability Retirement process.  The term “process” is used here, because it is too often the case that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage this administrative procedure, fail to realize that there are multiple potential stages to the entire endeavor.  That is a mistake that can come back to haunt.  One should prepare the initial stage “as if” – as if the Second, Reconsideration Stage of the process may need to be anticipated, and further, invoking the rights accorded through an appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Why?

Because that is how the Administrative Specialists at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management review each stage – and especially the initial stage of the process – by reviewing the weight of the evidence, conformity to the existing laws concerning Federal Disability Retirement, and considering whether or not an initial denial will involve much resistance at the Reconsideration and subsequent stages of the Administrative Process.

Every Federal Disability Retirement application put together by the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker  and submitted through one’s own Human Resource Department of one’s Federal Agency or the H.R. Shared Services facility in Greensboro, North Carolina (where all Postal Federal Disability Retirement applications are submitted and processed), whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is considered “valid” and a “slam dunk” – precisely because the person preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application is the same person who daily experiences the medical condition itself.

How can OPM deny my claim?  I cannot do essential elements X, Y and Z, and the doctors who treat me clearly see that I am in constant pain, or that I am unable to do certain things, etc.

But the Federal or Postal employee preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must understand that there is a difference between “having a medical condition” and proving to a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (an entity who will never know you, meet with you or otherwise recognize your existence except in relation to a case number assigned to every Federal Disability Retirement application submitted to Boyers, Pennsylvania) – that such a medical condition no longer allows you to perform all of the essential elements of your official position.

Preparing one’s case for the Initial Stage of the process is important in establishing the foundation for the entire process itself.  It is not merely a matter of “filling out forms”; it is a matter of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one’s medical condition has a clear and unequivocal nexus to the capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

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

 

Federal Disability Retirement Process: The Farcical Foray

It is the complexity of the absurd which tends to amaze; whether, in this day and age, we have lost the subtlety of the ludicrous, is sometimes to be held with awe.

Shakespeare’s Court jesters, clowns and fools all had that capacity to meander with linguistic pointedness; and it was in the very contrast between a character taking absurdity too seriously, and the juxtaposition of seriously expressing the absurd, that truth of circumstances often emerge. Within the context of such satire, there is a seriousness of purpose, and though we often become lost in the travails of life’s challenges, were we able to step back and consider the farcical, the foray would transcend between the mundane and the heavenly.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage the bureaucratic process of 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, the patience shown is a tribute in and of itself.

Yes, the bureaucratic process can often be likened to a farce; and yes, the lengthy administrative procedures and legal maneuverings reflect a complex process of the absurd; and — but for the medical condition which is the foundation of it all — the encounters with life’s obstacles throughout the administrative process would often make for laughter and mirth.

Be not distracted, however; filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, is neither a satire nor a pleasurable play to witness; rather, it is a serious endeavor which must be taken seriously; and though King Lear was a serious play whose Court Jester revealed the absurdity beneath, preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits should be approached and engaged with the full comprehension that behind the curtains of life, the foundation of every Federal Disability Retirement application stands a human being waiting upon the human folly of man-made bureaucracy and administrative turmoil.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire