Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Frameworks

To be successful in any endeavor, one must identify the relevant issues, sift through and discard the peripheral contents, and maintain a thematic thread throughout in order to keep the focus upon the essence of the project. Anyone who has attended a meeting which lacks a subject-matter focus, and where a free-for-all is allowed, without a circumscribed set of agendas, can attest to the importance of setting priorities and understanding the difference between points of significance and irrelevant detractions.

Frames are important, and sometimes as much as the painting itself.  For, art is merely a slice of the greater exposure to life, and it is the frame which distinguishes that parcel of perspective and allows the viewer to participate in a moment of time and a pause for reflection.  For the Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to provide a “roadmap” to OPM, and thus circumscribe the framework of the relevant attachments, medical and legal issues to be evaluated, and the pathway to resolutions preemptively proposed.

Thus, the three tiers of an effective framework should include: (1) A clear and concise Statement of Disability (here, one must be careful because of the legal consequences of failing to include and fully describe the medical conditions), (2) A reference to the relevancy of the attached documents which support the statement, and (3) the pertinent legal foundations which are satisfied by the first two tiers.

He who frames the picture has the power to direct the viewer’s perspective; for, it is the frame which enhances the content of the artistry, and directs the appreciation to an irrelevant empty sky in a schematically unimportant corner of the painting, or to the central theme where the brilliance of bursting colors explode forth in magnificent reflections of a masterpiece’s slice of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Uniqueness versus homogeneity

It is the lack of recognition of singularity within the greater species of one’s kind, which results in an universal loss of empathy and understanding. Homogeneity presumptively recognizes the cumulative identity of functional values, and from that, extrapolates to an assumption of sameness in everything — from capacity to ability; from tolerance to reactionary fortitude. We tend to project that which we are able to handle; if we have withstood years of stressful environments, we assume that everyone else can do so, and should; if we have lived through tragedy with little to no ill effects, we scoff and sneer when others break down and disintegrate upon experiencing a fractional encounter of comparative insignificance.

But it is precisely the fragile uniqueness of human beings which is overlooked in such embracing of homogeneity; as Aquinas modified Aristotle’s perspective and argued that it is the combination of form and substance which results in the essence of being, so some of us have psyches which are made of more brittle but fragile ingredients.

For Federal and Postal employees considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the issue is often when, to what extent, and how long can one hold out until the breaking point arrives? There is no “objective” criteria in which to apply; for, just as the individual is an unique entity, so the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job is also singularly tied to the facts and circumstances of each case.

Abstract forms in a platonic world are no longer believed in; and as unicorns and giants pervade only those universes of mythology and science fiction, it is a sad thought to consider when the uniqueness of individuals are overlooked for the commonality of a subsumed species.  In our work-a-day world, it is easy to walk past a hurting soul; and all the more so when the one hurting is the same one who is walking by.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: This Side, or the Other, of Paradise

It represents that mythical existence — whether in a physical sense, or a metaphysical state of being — where harmony, the absence of pain and a continuum of pleasure and contentment are experienced daily and in sustained fashion.  Perhaps it is a fictional creation propelled by those who have known the negative of that which has been formulated.

Ultimately, it is the place to which we strive, and whether we arrive just on the other side of paradise, or on this side, is the criteria which society judges as to the success or failure of a given life.  And who is the judge, and what right to render such a judgment?  One’s own assessment, and the insular world of one’s psyche, may well be enough for most; but that often merely involves the sleight of words, of redefining what words mean, in order to fit the conceptual construct which others have proposed.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS or CSRS, the capacity to attain a level of restorative quietude through relief from daily activities, may well be enough to constitute a state of paradise.

It is amazing how the threshold of meanings and goals to achieve are lowered considerably when one experiences pain or psychological turmoil and hurt.  Only those who have never experienced a medical condition fail to know what it means to be caught in the proverbial web of medical necessity.

For the Postal Worker and the Federal employee whose lives are shaken by a medical condition, whether it is physical pain or cognitive dysfunction, or both, the difference between landing on this side of paradise, or on the other side, is often determined by whether one gets Federal Disability Retirement benefits or not, and whether the period of rest and restorative state of being is attainable by securing one’s future stability and sense of peace.

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

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Circle of Questions and Answers

The tragedies befall frequently enough to make some correlative conclusions; of the athlete who fell short of the finish line; of the one who wanted to just make it one last time, only to become severely injured prior to completing the task; and others who become debilitated within the last 50 yards, or within the parameters of being “within reach” of the end.  This is likened to the Federal or Postal employee who has only a couple of years before full retirement.

Inasmuch as Federal Disability Retirement takes on average 8 – 10 months to obtain (from the start of the process of gathering the medical reports, records, etc., until a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management), the question often becomes whether it is worthwhile filing for Federal Disability Retirement when one has come so close to the finish line.

Each case must be assessed and evaluated with the particular facts peculiar and unique to it; but questions of intelligent assessment should be applied, in order to reach an algorithm of rational conclusions:  When I reach the end (or, “if I…”), will my health be preserved enough such that I can enjoy retirement?  Is the reason why I am contemplating Federal Disability Retirement now, because I have in fact already reached the crucial flashpoint where I am no longer able to continue performing the essential elements of my job?  Is there a possibility that I will not in fact be able to endure the remaining X-number of years left before I reach full retirement?

Questions prompt answers; answers, even if preliminary and tentative, begin the process of further questioning; and so the circle of questions and answers begin to guide and resolve the issues which trouble the soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Disability Retirement under CSRS & FERS: Continuing with the Medical Condition

The capacity to endure an ongoing medical condition is a testament to the human body and spirit.  That being said, however, there is a saturation point at which the Federal or Postal employee who continues to withstand the debilitating nature of a medical condition should not go beyond.  

When a doctor advises that a Federal or Postal employee should seek Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such a “flashpoint” obviously has been reached.  In all likelihood, however, the point at which the Federal or Postal employee should have stopped working, has probably been long overdue.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question is often asked whether a person “should” continue to work.  That is ultimately a medical question which must be discussed between the treating doctor and the patient who is a Federal or Postal employee.

Ultimately, economic and financial decisions play a major role in making such a decision; as to the secondary question of whether the continuation will have an impact upon the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, is one which can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the particular facts of each case.  

Generally speaking, however, the answer is “no”.  And so the enduring testament to the human body can be reinforced each day, as the Federal or Postal worker continues to endure the pain, medical condition, discomfort and progressive deterioration — contrary to the natural tendency to stop, even when we know better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: When Should the Agency Be Informed?

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the question is often asked whether and when an Agency should be informed of the impending Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Such a question & answer is almost always a discretionary one, and there is not a “right” answer — only one which can result from the tailored responses of specific and individual circumstances.  For, on the one hand, the Agency will often already suspect that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and therefore the automatic loss of the applicant/employee, is an inevitable future certainty, and therefore such notification is merely a formality.  

The Agency is often anxious to have the backlog of work created by the employee’s non-attendance or sporadic attendance resulting from the chronic medical conditions, to be abated at some point, and therefore hiring a replacement is something which the Agency wants accomplished as soon as possible — and one might argue that informing the Agency is the “right thing” to do.  

But in representing a Federal or Postal employee in a Federal Disability Retirement case, the “right thing” always is looking after the best interests of the client, and informing the agency prior to filing is not always in the best interests of the client.  For, on the other hand, informing the Agency too soon will often result in unintended consequences — of reactions and initiated actions upon being informed of the very intention of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

While unfortunate and even perhaps “retaliatory” in nature, Agencies often act/react only upon official notification of an intention.  In other words, the proverbial “elephant in the room” is only noticed when the elephant actually stomps its feet (or is it “hooves”?).  Whether and when is a discretionary decision by the Federal or Postal employee.  

Ultimately, of course, when the Federal Disability Retirement application is filed through the Agency for further processing before being forwarded to the Office of Personnel Management, the Agency will be fully informed.  But as to “pre-informing” the Agency — that all depends upon the individual circumstances of the Federal or Postal employee, taking into account first and foremost the best interests of the client when represented by an OPM Disability Retirement attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire