Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Ignorance and Coping

Within the complex world of information technology, modernity has reached a level of overload which few from past generations could have ever imagined. One needs only to peruse a Tom Swift novel to compare how far we have come; and even the old greats like Asimov and Bradbury could not have foreseen, in the height of their intellectual and creative powers, much of the technological gadgetry of the present age.

Then, of course, there is the “human side” of the equation of modern technology — of how individuals cope with such information overload.  Many have theorized that the exponential explosion of Major Depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and the societal impact of increased psychiatric disorders, stems from a response in terms of coping mechanisms; and we counter the response with advanced pharmaceutical admixtures.  The more common means employed to cope with the deluge of constant informational dissemination, is to limit the exposure to the volume of encounters.

Thus, the age-old adage of ignorance being a “blissful state” retains some semblance of truth.  But for those facing issues of legal limitations and filing deadlines, it is best to “be in the know”.

For Federal and Postal Workers intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the 1-year Statute of Limitations for filing applies from the time of separation from Federal Service.  Being on OWCP does not forestall or extend the 1-year rule. As such, once an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 is issued or, for Postal Workers, when those 0-balance pay stubs stop coming in the mail, it is well to be aware that the clock has begun to tick.

Ignorance can indeed be blissful, and being the gatekeeper of information overload may be a means of coping; but in the end, the inquisitiveness of Tom Swift must always prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Misinformation

The problem with a society which provides unlimited information is that the traditional controls and mechanisms known for verification and validation of accuracy become diluted or altogether abandoned.  Plagiarism has become a pervasive problem; as vastness of information exponentially explodes, so the chances of being identified for unauthorized copying becomes infinitely lesser, while those who “play the odds” increase in boldness and in sheer volume.

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 a procedural requirement that — sometime during the process of filing with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the Federal or Postal employee must show that he or she has filed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with the Social Security Administration.  But it is the “when” which have become enveloped within a convoluted complexity of misinformation.

Various Human Resource Offices are insisting (in error) that SSDI must be filed before an application to OPM can be submitted.  Such misinformation may preclude a Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement to meet the 1-year Statute of Limitations in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (after separation from Federal Service), or for other Federal or Postal employees who are still employed, if only because the process of SSDI can be an equally, if not more so, of a daunting administrative process as filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  Further, in attempting to file online for SSDI, there is the question as to whether one is still employed, and if so, SSDI will not allow the online applicant to proceed any further, precisely because such an applicant would be immediately disqualified, anyway.

The fact and correct information is as follows:  At some point in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee needs to file for SSDI, and show OPM proof of such filing.  From OPM’s perspective, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application, they need to make sure that the Federal or Postal Retirement annuitant is or is not eligible for SSDI, for offset-provisions of benefits between SSDI and FERS.  Thus, it is ultimately merely a payment/compensation issue.  Filing for SSDI is not in reality a prerequisite for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but merely a check upon a coordination of payment benefits if both are approved.

In this vast universe of information, one must expect a correlative dissemination of misinformation; like the black hole in the greater universe of thriving galaxies and dying planetary systems, one can be sucked into the void of ignorance and suffer irreparable consequences as a result.  That is why Captain Kirk needed to be periodically beamed up — if only to make sure that the molecular reconstitution was properly performed in order to continue on in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Understanding & Application

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 to both “understand” the administrative process — the compendium of the entirety of the process and procedures itself, including the relevant statutory and case-law criteria which is relied upon, the methodological approach of the Office of Personnel Management, etc. — as well as have the ability to apply such knowledge in an effective manner.  The former constitutes the preparation:  i.e., the study of one’s enemy is necessary in the ultimate prevailing of an endeavor.  The latter — the application of such obtained and accrued knowledge — is the initiation of the former.

The distinction between the two, and the effective use of both, is important in reaching a successful conclusion to the whole point of the process.  Understanding of a subject, person, group, entity, or Federal Agency, is important in the initial, preparatory stages of the administrative process, and as there is much information “out there”, one ultimately has little excuse in not taking the time to reading, self-informing, and compiling the available facts and informative advice provided.  The chasm between understanding and “application”, however, is one which differentiates between knowledge and wisdom; and it is the latter which one is attempting to achieve.  Once the information is compiled, the key is to apply it in an effective, impacting manner.

The difference is likened to the person who has read upon on how to fly an airplane (i.e., the language game may be memorized), but would you ever step onto a plane being flown by a pilot who has never flown previously, but who assures you that he has studied all available resources?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Simplicity

Simplicity is both a process and a goal; it is that which defines ease of action, minimization of effort, and beauty in its foundational form.  Simplicity implies quietude of form, and reduction to substance and essence.

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 always best, most effective, and of the optimal benefit, to approach the formulation with a focus upon simplicity of formulation.

One can become embroiled in the morass of the procedural and administration complexities.  As information is declared to be “power”, and as there is an infinite and exponential explosion of information these days, so one proceeds in life on the assumption that the more information one acquires, the more powerful the outcome.  Such logical absurdity, however, overlooks the tool of discretion — for “information” in and of itself is a neutral, valueless commodity; the selective plucking and application of such information is what becomes powerful.  But how can one select the proper information before one has gained a knowledge of a subject?  That is the conundrum.

Ultimately, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the Federal or Postal employee is wise to stick to three basic principles:  Focus upon the medical condition; focus upon the essential elements of the positional description; make sure that the nexus between the former two is established without contradiction.

The rest of the complexities of the process should be left to those who are more knowledgeable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Reliability of Information

In this information age (or, as the linear sequence of “ages” go, some have already identified it as the “post-information age”), the necessity of distinguishing between information, relevant information, and reliably relevant information is an important capacity to embrace.

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 to be able to identify the distinguishing factors between the three.  The problem is that the three categories are often encapsulated in concentric circles of information, such that they are indistinguishable.

A fourth category which often muddies the waters is the insertion of motives.  How often does it happen where one makes contact with an agency, and the person on the other end seems pleasant, sounds competent, and joyfully informs you that it is “being worked on” and will be completed within the next day or so?  Weeks go by, and when a follow-up call is initiated, one is told by a less enthusiastic voice, and one which may be unpleasant and unhelpful, that No, the file hasn’t even been received, and we don’t know who you spoke to, but what that “other” person said is not true.  The “motive” of the “other” person was likely merely to get rid of the caller.  The fact that the voice was pleasant and competent-seeming turned out to be an undermining factor as to the reliability of the information.

This is an age when anyone can be anyone else; where a declaration on a website or on a social network page can constitute the substance of a person’s identity, without the person have accomplished anything “real”.  The problem with such radical bifurcation between “information”, “relevant information”, and “reliably relevant information”, however, is that there are real-world consequences for those who seek out and utilize such information.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make such a tripartite distinction, and to proceed to prepare a case based upon a reliable information source, a relevant basis of information, and information which can bring about an effective end.  This takes discernment — a commodity which is greatly lacking these days.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: SSDI & FERS

It happens quite often.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee must file for Social Security Disability benefits (under FERS; CSRS is exempted because there is no Social Security component under the law).

While many Human Resources offices, as well as the H.R. Shared Services office in Greensboro, N.C. for the Postal Service, will assert to the Federal and Postal employee that they must “wait” until they get a decision from the Social Security Administration, the truth is that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management only needs to see a receipt showing that SSDI was filed, and this can be easily obtained online by simply completing their questionnaire, submitting it, then printing out a receipt.  Moreover, OPM only needs the receipt showing that one has filed, at the time of an approval.

By being misinformed and ill-advised, what often happens is a delay in the entire process — either that the H.R. office of an agency, or for the U.S. Postal Service, delays processing their part of the Federal Disability Retirement application, or the Federal or Postal employee is left with the misinformation and impression that he or she cannot file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits until the Social Security Administration has made a decision.

Then, of course, there are those who believe (wrongly) that they must receive a “final” decision from SSDI — meaning that after the initial denial is issued, and they have appealed the decision, they must await the results of the appeal.  This can take many months, if not years, and by that time, there is the danger that the Statute of Limitations has come and gone for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Information is normally a neutral conglomeration of facts and issues, but can be a positive thing; misinformation, by inverse logical definition, would then be a negative thing.  More than that, reliance upon misinformation can lead to real-world consequences — ones which are irreversible.  As such, one must check and double-check the source of information, in order to ensure that reliance results in reliability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Informational Perspectives

As a general maxim, it is true that not all information is equal; that the qualitative reliance of a given source of information, based upon consistency, accuracy, credibility, etc., should be viewed over the course of sufficient time; and that quantity and volume of information are often an inaccurate guide to determining the usefulness of such information.  

George Orwell’s novel, 1984 is considered a “classic” not only because of the excellence in writing style, but because the content and depiction of future events (now past in terms of events having occurred, predicted to occur, or passed occurrence or relevance because the historicity of such events has surpassed expectations of occurrence) have become a common banality of reality.  One point which Orwell was profoundly correct about, but in an inverse way, encapsulates information:  Orwell predicted that by reducing words and language, there would be the natural consequence of a reduction in conceptual possibilities, minimizing ideas, and more importantly, dangerous or revolutionary ideas.  Instead, the opposite has occurred:  by exponentially expanding information, and disseminating voluminous irrelevancies, there has been a parallel reduction of knowledge.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is much information “out there”.  Such volume of information, however, does not necessarily result in concurrence of knowledge.  

Information often contains a catch:  a perspective and a motive.  Is the information merely provided in order to persuade you to pay for services?  How was the information obtained — is it merely a regurgitation from information provided by someone else?  Has it been “cleverly borrowed” from someone else’s website?  There is nothing wrong with providing information with a secondary purpose of providing a service which is related to the information; how that information is provided, however, and whether such information is accurate, reliable and consistent, may make all the difference in the world.  

In pursuing eligibility for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, be careful in accessing information on the issues; not all information is equal; and it is ultimately knowledge, not information, which one is attempting to obtain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire