Federal & Postal Employee Medical Retirement: The Intersection of Interests

Throughout one’s life, most Americans have minimal contact with governmental bureaucracies and agencies, except to comply with Selective Service requirements, join the military, file tax returns, claim Social Security benefits in older age, etc. Such encounters are often considered bothersome, and many grumble and complain about the intrusive nature of such dealings. What is often not perceived, of course, is the vast amount of indirect statutory and administrative requirements placed upon private entities, which then shift burdens upon the private citizen, unbeknownst to the person entering the store, bank, etc.

For the Federal and Postal Worker, however, the daily bureaucratic encounters are part of one’s life. The Federal and Postal employee is part of that administrative process which impacts the private sector of the economy; they are, in essence, the “insiders” who make the mechanisms of government tick. As such, the Federal and Postal Worker often has little idea how the “private” individual views such inner workings, until he or she becomes just like the “outsider” and encounters a Federal bureaucracy in the same shoes as the private individual.

When the Federal or Postal employee finds it necessary to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such a clash and intersection of interests suddenly takes on a new perspective. In one fell swoop, the Federal and Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes both an “insider” as well as an “outsider” — the former, because he or she is still part of the Federal agency or Postal Service; the latter, because such dealings must ultimately be with an independent agency identified as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Such intersection of interests often becomes befuddling; for, no longer is the encounter embracing the administrative and bureaucratic work to which one is accustomed; rather, it is to stand in line like other private citizens to file a claim for benefits.

Such a state of being, for the Federal and Postal Worker, can be likened to the deceased individual caught in Purgatory; and, indeed, perhaps some sins unknown and not atoned for, have been placed upon such Federal and Postal employees to have to encounter OPM in such a state. Whatever the reasons, such an encounter can be just as much of an eye-opener to the Federal and Postal employee, as a private citizen who encounters the complex bureaucracy of the Federal government for the first time in his or her life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Process Mentality

The importance of understanding that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, as a “process”, is critical in reaching the mental preparedness necessary to endure the potentiality of the lengthy encounter.

The analogy of the approach should be likened to the difference between WWI and WWII — of trench warfare as opposed to a blitzkrieg.  It is the former which must be prepared for, and not the latter.

For, at each step of the way — from waiting for the proper medical reports to be prepared by the treating doctors, to formulating the narrative of one’s statement of disability; to waiting for the agency to complete the processing of their potion (i.e., the Supervisor’s Statement and the Agency’s Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation efforts); to the intake processing unit of OPM at Boyers, PA, then down to Washington D.C. where assignment of the case will take some time; to final assignment of the case, and potential routing for review by a contract doctor — this is all merely at the First Stage of the process.

If it is denied at the First Stage, then one must fight the process through the Reconsideration Stage, and possibly beyond.

Thus is the mental preparation at the outset required in order to survive the multiplicity of bumps and turns within the process itself.  It is best to know the trials in order to survive the process, and to prepare for it as best one can.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Inevitability

The pervasive sense of inevitability is that innate sense of foreboding which will not be shaken off, that we know beyond mere acknowledgment of a fact, and further, that no amount of self-justification will contain or diminish the knowledge of the coming event.  To recognize the irrefutable future event may be based upon several factors:  past actions; personal encounters; a coalescence of the past and the present, culminating in the certainty of the future event.

In preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such a sense of the future is often felt by the Federal or Postal employee — of the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It may well be that the doctor still wants to perform additional tests or that certain other treatment modalities will be insisted upon; but the person who suffers from the medical condition is almost always the accurate gauge for the need to file.

Because medical conditions constitute a subjective state of being, where the “I” prevails in the ownership and knowledge of the medical condition, it is precisely why the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from the medical condition is the one who best knows the extent, severity and capacity of the condition and its relation to one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Inevitability is often known by the Federal or Postal Worker far in advance of the doctor, coworker, or family member; for, it is an inevitability itself that the future event known by the possessor of knowledge is the first to sense the inevitable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Durational Attitude, Or: “If Only I Had…”

There are periodic offers for an “early out”; or the ability upon reaching certain trigger points of leaving the Federal Government; or receiving OWCP benefits, which is certainly a higher rate of immediate return (assuming qualification and eligibility has been established); or even a settlement for a separation with some severance pay, a lump sum to settle a lawsuit, etc.

On the other hand, one of the advantages of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, of course, is that the number of years which one remains on Federal Disability Retirement counts toward the total number of years of service, such that at age 62, when the Disability Retirement benefit is recalculated as regular retirement, those years on Disability Retirement are calculated into the benefit. Thus, for those who live to be a ripe old age, those differences in percentage points will continue to reap the benefits.

It is the long-term viewpoint which should always be considered; for, in later years, the durational perspective, if not taken, may well result in the rueful reminiscence of a forlorn, regretful attitude.  One may make statements of vacuity, such as, “I don’t live with regrets”; but the annuity and one’s bank account may tell a different story.

Planning for the future in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, entails, involves, and encapsulates more than just the “now” and the “present”; it is the immediacy of the future which one should always plan for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Planning

A common consensus among those who contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is that it is an unplanned event, and one which required decisions which shortened the career goals of the Federal or Postal employee.  Such an unplanned event, however, should not be left for lack of planning of the event itself — of preparing, formulating and filing for the Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, a distinction should be made:  yes, the fact of the medical condition, and its unplanned impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, thereby cutting short the Federal or Postal career of the individual, is quite often something which is unexpected and beyond one’s control.

Once the realization that it is necessary to  file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM becomes apparent, however, one should not simply act in a manner which compounds the problems of lack of planning.  At that point, planning is essential to the entire endeavor:  the garnering of support from the medical community; the persuasive conversation which one must have with one’s treating medical provider; the decision of which medical conditions to include, how to state it, what to state; the preparation of the coordinated aspects of each of the strands of a Federal Disability Retirement application — these need to be planned for, in order to increase the chances of success at each stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire