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 Employee Medical Retirement: The Linguistic World of Mirrors

Mirrors are peculiar human inventions; they play to the vanity of men and women, while at the same time revealing the cosmetic warts and boils which remain unhidden and starkly open on display.  But linguistic mirrors take away that disadvantage of visual perception; instead, through the vehicle of words, one can create reflections of a fantasy world of make-believe, without ever having to confront the ugliness of reality.  Thus can we go through the day by surrounding ourselves with platitudes:  “It’s not that bad”; “You look good, today”; “Things will get better tomorrow”.  Linguistic mirrors avoid the direct reality of one’s reflection, and instead create a mythical world of statements bouncing back to the bearer of siphoned and filtered news.

Further, the one who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men can continue to live in a surreal world of compliments and make-believe for countless years, without suffering the consequences of objective reality.  And we can do that with medical conditions, too.  One can survive through years and years by avoiding the signals of progressive physical and cognitive deterioration.

Federal and Postal workers are quite good at this game of mirrors — that is why it often comes to a crisis point before Federal and Postal Workers consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; and that is why Supervisors and Managers are surprised; and, moreover, at least one of the reasons why performance appraisals reflect “outstanding” throughout the years of pain and debilitating conditions.  But in the end, mirrors fade, crack, and reveal the ugliness beneath the cosmetic surface; and even words begin to fail.  Pain in the human body is an innate alert system that is fail-safe, and when the medical condition begins to manifest itself to the point where one can no longer mask the symptoms, the seriousness of it all becomes apparent.

Federal Disability Retirement is at least an option for Federal and Postal Workers to consider, in order to be released from the “true picture” of one’s conditions.  There are legal criteria to meet; medical statements to obtain; narrative statements to write; but all in good time, as we see the reflection in the mirror, and apply more cosmetic means to hide the reality of our true condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Applicant’s Mindset

“Motivational Speakers” will often focus upon the “mindset” of the audience, and argue that a change of attitudinal perspective is the “key” to success in this or that endeavor of life.  Whether true, how much of it is true, and whether a generic, universalized approach can be effectively tailored for a particular individual is always questionable.  

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, however, it is important for the applicant to have a correct “mindset”, and to approach the entirety of the administrative process — its legal hurdles, the regulatory criteria which must be met, the gathering of the evidence, confronting the issue of the Agency’s alleged attempts at accommodation, etc. — with an approach that, indeed, Federal Disability Retirement is what is desired and is set as the “telos” or the end goal.

Often, because the Federal or Postal Worker is still beset with “second” thoughts and innate conflicts of still wanting to stay on the job or, more often, hoping that somehow the medical condition will resolve itself and this unpleasant episode of life can be overcome, that the mindset of the Federal or Postal worker prevents the efficient progress of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Such internal confusion or innate conflict can stall a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Whether consciously or subconsciously, it is important that, once a decision to move forward has been made, the Federal or Postal worker intending to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits resolve any doubts or conflicts, and to aggressively move forward.  

Don’t delay and procrastinate every time the Agency appears to act compassionately — they will not be able to accommodate you.  Don’t pause the forward progress of a Federal Disability Retirement application because you had one good day at work — the profound fatigue and need to rest and recuperate is a condition of chronicity over time, and not just an episodic event.  Federal Disability Retirement is not a death sentence; it is a sentence to allow for a further narrative of life beyond a particular type of job.  

Poetry is not just a single line, but a melody created through a compendium of conceptual depictions of beauty.  Life is not measured by one’s medical condition upon a particular segment of one’s life, but over the course of a lifetime.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire