Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The end of Act I, Scene I

Whether it is in some obscure off-Broadway play, or in a Shakespearean tragedy presented with lavish costumes and elaborate affectations, the end in Act I, Scene I sets the stage for the narrative following.  Yes, yes – one can argue that there are “other” scenes, acts, pivotal moments and significant slices which also formulate the argument for such commanding cohesion in a story; but that misses the point – for, if everything is relevant, then nothing is important; and if nothing is important, then it negates the pointing out of relevance itself.

The great Chekhov is the one who pointed out that, if you are going to introduce a shotgun in the first scene, then you must use it sometime, somewhere, later; otherwise, you have left the audience with a titillating artifice with no signification of purpose, thereby failing to be true and honest with your viewers and violating the sanctity of that most important of connections:  the collective belief of the audience of the constructed trust in you.

There are always pivotal moments in every life lived; of remorse and regret too burdensome to live out, or minor irritants of projects left undone and cast aside both in memory and in discourse of behavior.  We often treat the end of Act I, Scene I “as if” – and that is the mistake which the metaphor fails to embrace.  For, there are always many scenes to follow, and when we make too much of a slice of one’s life as that “pivotal” moment of despair and regret, it robs the rest of the narrative and creates a vacuum and extinguishment of life’s subsequent moments of linear significance, like the proverbial skeleton in the closet of one’s hidden past, echoing with haunting sobs of silent regrets, always pulling back into a time of past remorse, when a wider expanse of future hope still resides.

One should always keep a proper perspective, both in living a life as well as in learning of another’s; for, it cannot be that any single slice constitutes the entirety of the greater whole, and to make it so is to miss the opportunities of subsequent events by relying too heavily upon prior travesties.   To dwell on the past and to set a given moment as a sort of eureka event where an epiphany is attained is to remain forever stuck in a quick sand of self-delusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, but who – for whatever reasons of regret, remorse of affectations of reaching a seeming epiphany, and thus hesitates for fear of living that regret or remorse – the important thing to consider is that, while the end of a career may well constitute a change of present circumstances, it should merely be likened to the end of Act I, Scene I, and not the end of the play itself.

There is much to do beyond receiving a Federal Disability Retirement – one can, for instance, find a different kind of job, vocation or work in the private sector, and make up to 80% of what one’s (now former) Federal position currently pays, and continue to receive such pay on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  As such, the Federal or Postal employee should never simply pack up and go home after Act I, Scene I – as there is much left to the narrative, especially when it comes to living the real life of one’s own play.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Linguistic Labyrinth

Language is a labyrinth of paths.  You approach from one side and know your way around; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about.”  #203, Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein.  Life is never a static construct; those who consider it so, are sorely left behind when the winds of change suddenly fill the sails and the slumbering ship awakens with a groan to pull free of its moorings.

Left behind are the days when a person could count on the vocation of the parent, or of a career singular throughout.  Instead, the economy forces us to adapt and reconsider; new skills are needed, or old ones refined and readjusted.  And the feudal days when the kindness of the squire was tested where lameness or debilitating accidents incurred the wrath of life, are bygones of past initiatives thrown to the howling wolves of predatory eyes lurking behind to take advantage of every slight and weakness revealed.

Language is like that, too.  We think that schooling ends when the diploma is handed out, at whatever stage of advancement; but the reality is that the true test of self-initiative begins at that very moment, precisely because liberty allows the freedom to choose between vice or value, where the former is offered freely to the youth who has been released from the shackles of parental control.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who find themselves in a position where a career move is necessitated by an unfortunate accident or onset of a medical condition, the truth of Wittgenstein, and of life lived in a world of complexities, comes to the fore.

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, is a difficult approach when the mandates of life’s ferocity coalesce in a tripartite convergence:  a medical condition; impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and the need to secure one’s future in order to attain a level of financial stability.

The unknown labyrinth of language becomes a maze of confusion when the Federal or Postal employee encounters the legal eligibility requirements mandated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to overcome the obstacles and hurdles in an effort to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Throughout life, the Federal or Postal Worker has approached the path of language from one opening; now, he or she must enter the gates of a bureaucracy which requires expertise and knowledge of a completely different sort, and without the assistance of an attorney, you enter the labyrinth of the unknown at your own peril.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The 80% Rule

I recently wrote an article on FedSmith.com concerning the legal process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and a reader posted a comment implying and suggesting a lack of understanding about a benefit which would allow for payment of 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years, and in addition, to allow for that annuitant to make up to 80% of what the former federal position currently pays.

I beg to differ. The purpose of allowing an annuitant to potentially go out and earn additional compensation in the private sector are multi-fold: it allows for an individual to remain productive; he or she continues to contribute in the workforce and, as a consequence, pays taxes, FICA, etc.; the amount of 40% (after the first year) is an incentive to go out and do something else. Further, Federal Disability Retirement benefits are part of a compensation package offered to a Federal or Postal employee — it is part of the total employment package, and there is certainly nothing wrong with taking advantage of that employment benefit if and when the need arises. The truth is that most people don’t get anywhere near the 80% mark, but hover closer to the 40 – 50% mark, and together with the disability annuity, are able to make a decent living. All in all, the 80% rule is a smart and thoughtful incentive for those who are disabled.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire