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

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Indicators

The technology of automobiles has changed radically in the past 2 decades.  No longer do we rely upon intuition, the automotive “ear” for that strange sound which, when talking to the service department, we attempt with futility to reenact with absurd pitches and tones in an attempt to accurately depict that which fails to occur when brought to the attention of the mechanic.  Instead, there are electronic warning lights and the computer sensors which specifically and with great detail indicate a past occurrence, a present problem, or a needed future course of action.

If the human body is the ultimate composite of neuro-sensors and complexities of the physical, the psychological, and the coalescence of mind, body and soul (including the philosophical “ghost in the machine“), then pain must be the warning indicator for past transgressions, current anomalies, and future need for servicing.  Those who ignore automotive warning signs do so at their peril; similarly, to ignore such signs emitted by the human body and transcribed in no uncertain terms via the daily chronicity of pain, do so with a singular certainty of progressive deterioration and decline.

Ultimately, the decision for the Federal or Postal Worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be accomplished once warning signs are heeded, and a blunt discussion with doctors, family and friends are engaged; but it is the pure and unadulterated ignoring of all signs which results in crisis and disaster.

The warning signs are there to heed; the future course of action is still left up to the recipient of such indicators.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Complication of Accommodations

The problem with most people is that they come at a conversation with a selective focus — and listen for that which they want to hear, and filter all other information which fails to fit the paradigm of their predetermined perspective.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question of accommodations via Standard Form 3112D comes to the fore — often because of the selective focus of issues on the part of OPM.

The fact that an agency may have engaged in work-place modifications, or allowed for temporary alleviation of certain elements of one’s job description; or even provided a state-of-the-art ergonomic chair with 3-speed controls with horizontal landing mechanisms — does not mean that the agency was able to, or did, accommodate the Federal or Postal employee under the legal meaning of that which constitutes a viable “accommodation” .

For, that which the agency does must allow for the Federal employee to perform the essential elements of his or her job, and any such attempted “accommodation” which does not meet that standard, is technically not an accommodation at all.  It is merely an artifice and a cosmetic make-over in an effort by the agency which allows for the agency to declare that they have “accommodated” the individual Federal or Postal employee.

Rarely does the question on SF 3112D get accurately responded to; for, the concept of “attempted” accommodations is precisely the point — if it was attempted, and did not work, then the agency has an obligation to concede and describe that point; but from the Agency’s myopic perspective, any “attempt” constitutes an accommodation, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will embrace such an assertion with open arms.

What to do about it?  Always focus upon the central point of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is a medical retirement.  Thus, the doctor’s opinion is sacrosanct, and should be repetitively emphasized.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Shrines of Our Own Making

For some inexplicable reason, we construct shrines which are deemed sacred, without ever evaluating whether or not the sanctity of the structure deserves our unwavering devotion and commitment.  Shame, embarrassment and the cognitive infrastructure of self-worth often remain the singular obstacles in preventing the Federal or Postal employee from filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

It is the mental constructs of our own making — the shrines of sacred sanctimony — which obstruct the linear progression from a life of constant turmoil to one of relative peace.  And so we are admonished that having a medical condition is somehow shameful; that taking off too much time from work to attend to one’s health somehow devalues the inherent worth of a person.  And we come to believe such folly despite the source of such value-driven thoughts, and make shrines and sacred temples of societal determinations despite the harm to one’s existence.

Life without health is less than a full existence; the self-harm and self-immolation one engages in by continuing on a course of destructive behavior, in ignoring the deterioration of one’s health, is in itself a form of sacrilege; the deconstruction of those very temples we find ourselves trapped within, is often the first step towards recovering one’s health.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which all Federal and Postal employees who are suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — should be looked into.  But the first step in the entire process is to revisit the shrines of our own making, and to determine which sacred cow is blocking the entranceway to a life of fulfillment, as opposed to mere existence of being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Survival and the Flexibility Factor

Materialism and the Darwinian view of human history are predicated upon the idea that successful genetic propagation of a species is dependent upon the ability to adequately adapt and mutate in response to changing circumstances and environmental upheavals.

Human beings are subject to such objective laws of nature, and presumably, continue to remain so despite the artificiality of one’s present surroundings.  Given that, the idea of survival of the fittest being predetermined by the laws of adaptability, it is those who are unable or unwilling to change the course of one’s path, who potentially suffer from the highest rates of loss.

For Federal and Postal employees who have set themselves upon a career path, and who have come upon a stage of life where medical conditions impact the health and well-being of the individual, such a Darwinian view of life should be seriously taken into consideration.  Those who stubbornly defy such innate laws of nature do so at a considerable price:  the growing stress upon one’s being; the deterioration of health; the greater impact of hostility from coworkers and supervisors; an attempt to continue on a course which was previously working, but is now destroying.

Adaptability and flexibility both in thought and action are essential to survival, and not just in the prehistoric days of cave-dwelling where the elements of nature were the primary obstacles, but in present-day circumstances where the factors of artificial and created stresses upon one’s health and well-being are tested just as strenuously.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a way of getting off of the “set” track; it may well be that such a change of course will allow for survival — to come back another day to fight the passages of tested time in order to affirm or refute the Darwinian perspective of the universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Clarion Call that Never Comes

Medical conditions are often subtle in their subversive impact — a slow, progressively deteriorating manifestation, characterized by pain, depletion of energy and stamina, and with manifestations of symptoms which may not be immediately noticeable with a passing glance.

Most of us meet and greet each other with hardly a glance; of “hello-how-are-yous” as polite niceties which are never meant to be seriously responded to; and in the course of such brief human contact, would not know — nor care to be informed of the details — of how a person truly “is” in the context of his or her life, medical condition, or well-being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, being ignored at work by one’s peers, coworkers and supervisors may have become a daily and expected occurrence.

In Medieval times, a clarion call represented a clear and loud trumpeting announcing an event, a call to action, or perhaps the arrival of someone of significance, relevance and importance.  For the Federal or Postal employee who may have to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, an expectation of an analogous call may never come, should not be waited upon, and likely will not occur.

Quietude is the pervasive norm in a society which is impersonal and unable to address each other with compassion or empathy.  Don’t expect a clarion call to be the focal point in deciding to act upon one’s medical condition; it is a call which will likely never be trumpeted, nor heard even if made.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Heidegger, Being, Essence and Value

Heidegger represents a culmination of sorts — of a philosopher caught in the historicity of his own time and making (with allegations of collaborating with the Nazi party), while proposing a methodology of modern philosophy which embraces the issues important to modernity — essence, value, and the meaning of one’s existence.

In this society of technological adaptation, where the separation of humanity from machines, and the chasm of isolation which expands exponentially, resulting in greater incidents of psychiatric desolation; it is important to pause and reflect upon the value of the human being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who has worked tirelessly to “advance the mission of the agency”, but who now finds him/herself with a medical condition which prevents him/her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job — how does the agency act/react?  Does it manifest compassion, empathy, and most importantly — loyalty?

In order for the conceptual paradigm of “loyalty” to have any meaning, it must be bilateral — meaning, inclusive in both directions.  But too often, loyalty is based merely on “what has he/she done for the agency today?”  The meaning of one’s existence is too closely tied to one’s work; the value of human worth is too easily discarded when one’s work is disrupted; and the truth of one’s being is too readily revealed when a medical condition intersects and interrupts one’s ability/inability to perform one’s job.

Heidegger, in the end, was probably right; the “things” we do are mere distractions to the ultimate fate of our being; but in the meantime, we must continue to strive, to live.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which exists in order to continue to live.  It allows for a Federal or Postal worker to continue in another vocation, and to have that rehabilitative period to focus upon the important things in life:  of health, of value, and of family relationships.  Don’t tie yourself too closely to some faceless agency’s “mission”; the first and primary mission is the worth of the individual human being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Working with the Medical Condition

As the 2012 – 2013 Pro-football season comes to an end, with the approach of final playoff games and the Superbowl, the controversy and issues concerning the game itself — of injuries to players; of concussions and allowing for types of plays which have a high percentage of probability for injuries; of RGIII of the Washington Redskins being allowed to play despite clearly being injured; and of the culture of football which idolizes players who can endure pain — these will continue to be debated and discussed, and peripheral corrections and adjustments to the game itself appear to be an inevitability.

The counter to much of this debate has been twofold:  first, that those who play the game do so knowingly, and therefore cannot complain about the potential risks and hazards of the game itself, and second, that because the players are well-compensated, they therefore do not have a right to object to the inherent dangers of the game.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has been working for many years in his or her job, and who is suffering from a medical condition, the entire controversy surrounding football players may be a distant and foreign concept.  For the Federal or Postal employee, enduring the medical condition in order to continue to work and to make a viable living is merely a daily necessity.

There comes a point, however, where the medical condition can no longer be tolerated, and where filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes an option which must be considered.  Football is a well-compensated game; life in other sectors, like Federal and Postal workers who have worked diligently to pursue a career, engulfs a lifetime of commitment.

Working through pain is nothing new for the Federal or Postal worker.  That occurs daily, all across the U.S.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, watching football on television is merely a pastime, and such controversies seem like a distraction to those who know, firsthand, what it means to endure a medical condition on a daily basis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Projecting Forward

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS (while the statutory references and case-laws applying to each retirement system may be different, the basic substantive laws governing each are essentially identical), it is important always to project forward, to prepare for the eventuality, and to consider the options so that events don’t take control, as opposed to the Federal or Postal Worker (to the extent possible) maintaining control of the present and future events as they unfold, with the multiple and varied contingencies which can reasonably be predicted.

For instance, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management, the rate of annuity compensation begins at 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service.

That first year, then, should be looked upon as a “transition” period for the Federal or Postal worker — with the full knowledge that in the following and subsequent years, the annuity will drop down to (and remain until age 62, when the disability retirement annuity becomes recalculated and converted administratively into a regular retirement, based upon the total number of years of Federal service, including the time on Federal Disability Retirement) to 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay.

That being said, viewing the first year of annuity payments as a “transition” year means that one should be projecting forward as to what one will do in the following and subsequent years.  What kind of work will one do?  How will you make up the difference and reduction in annuity payments?  What preparations are or will be made for the reduction?  Will supplemental income be needed?  Will it be part-time or full-time?  What is the maximum allowable earned income which one can receive?  These are all transition questions which are important in planning for the projected future, forward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Best Indicator

When is the right time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS?  Because the process can be a rather lengthy one (6- 8 months minimum from the beginning of the process of gathering the necessary medical documentation, etc., to receipt of an approval letter from the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.), the question of when to begin the preparation, formulation, and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application may depend upon several factors.  Obviously, a frank discussion with one’s treating doctor is a good starting point.  

As for indicators, only the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from the particular medical condition can know — either explicitly because of something that happened in the workplace or because of a medical emergency, or implicitly/intuitively.  As for the latter, if a Federal or Postal employee is exhausting his or her Sick Leave and Annual Leave, and is taking LWOP; has filed for FMLA; has been placed on a PIP; or, as is more often the case, is using the evenings and weekends as mere “recovery times” in order to drag one’s self to work, only to continue and perpetuate the vicious cycle of work, deteriorating condition, exhaustion, sleep, work, deteriorating condition … ad nauseum and ad infinitum (or so it would appear), then such an unacceptable condition of existence may be an indicator that it is time to consider formulating, preparing, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire