CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Universe of the Possible (Part II of II)

When avenues are closed off, the human psyche tends to shut down; and when grounds manifest fertile regeneration and bountiful splendor, the endless state of the possible opens like the gaping eyes of a child in excitable wonderment.  That is why internet companies attempt to artificially recreate atmospheres of creativity and prior glory days of unbounded imaginations.  But whether simulating a couch plopped in one’s basement or garage, and making it appear as if the environment is similar to those past dawns of tinkering with one’s imagination in the unheated, primitive conditions of one’s youth, is questionable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is faced initially with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to continue in the vocation and career choice of one’s following, the limitations which the present condition places upon one’s future often seems daunting.

But there are options available.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for those options to open up; for, once the Federal or Postal employee obtains an approval for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that (now former) Federal or Postal employee may go out into the private sector and earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, on top of the Federal Disability annuity. Many start their own businesses; others perform consultative work or work part time, thereby controlling the stresses and the extent of activity able to be tolerated within the restrictions of one’s medical conditions.

The avenue of the possible can only reopen once you recognize the reality of the probable; and in order to tap into the fertile imaginations of a brighter future, the roadblocks once observed must be moved in order to travel down the path of viable alternative routes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Body Breaking

The age-old paradigm of assuming that one’s career will take a singular path from birth to death is based upon a pre-industrial viewpoint fostered and solidified in the post-industrial age.  It is folly, however, to think that the human body can survive and withstand the repetitive stresses, both physical and cognitive, of the daily impact inflicted by the modern workplace.

Whether in physically-demanding jobs in the Postal Service; unrestricted stresses in Supervisory roles; of administrative functions in Postal and non-Postal Federal jobs requiring multi-tasking at levels unheard of; or of sustained, unsustainable endurance of data gathering, evaluation and analysis in front of a computer screen; there has been little-to-no time for evolutionary progress of the human body or psyche to adapt to the level of physical, mental and emotional demands and requirements coming from the modern workplace.

That is why Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit in the Federal Sector which is one of the few well thought-out compensatory packages:  a recognition that a particular kind of job may well no longer be able to be performed because of a specific medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing on in that career; paying a certain annuity amount; then, encouraging the (now former) Federal or Postal employee to remain productive by paying “back into the system” by becoming employed in some other capacity in the private sector.  Such a paradigm is a progressive one, and it recognizes the need for flexibility while understanding the reality of the human condition within the context of the workplace.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is a benefit which is available for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, and should be considered seriously by the modern workforce as a recognition that prior paradigms of single careers and vocations never took into consideration the complexity of the human body or psyche, nor the flashpoint of the body breaking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A New Beginning, after an Old Ending

Whether it is old age which makes for intransigence, or whether it is a lifetime of habitual living which makes for difficulty in changing the course of one’s future, will never be completely answered.

Youth better tends to possess the capacity to adapt and change as the malleability of circumstances confront an individual.  Old age — or those who euphemistically are identified as being “mature” — has the unfortunate effect of being entrenched in the ways of routine and unchanging, repetitive actions.

Perhaps the early requirement of being able to “multi-task” — of performing a variety of bombardments of sensory overloads on smartphones, iPads, computers, etc. — will have a positive impact upon society in the end, by allowing for quick and effective adaptation in an ever-changing environment.  Perhaps the penultimate, Darwinian evolution is taking place before our very eyes:  cognitive adaptation, where those who fail to change quickly and with each altering circumstance be able to parallel the change, will fail to survive in this high-paced, technological society.  The multiple “perhaps”, of course, still leave a healthy doubt; culture, stability, sameness — there are positive things to be said about the “old” ways.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether it is under FERS or CSRS, the most difficult step for the Federal or Postal employee is to recognize and adapt to the change which will occur, does occur — and must occur.

The old habit of thinking that one’s career with the Federal government, or the U.S. Postal Service, necessarily means a lifetime of commitment, must alter; the paradigm which one walked around with, that a single career in life marked one’s character of commitment and stability, needs to be transformed.  For, ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for a new beginning:  of having that rehabilitative period to take care of one’s medical conditions, while concurrently allowing for contemplation of a second, albeit different, type of vocation for the future.

Whatever one’s age, Federal Disability Retirement has the potential for a brighter tomorrow.  It is a benefit which can allow for a new beginning, and once taken, the Federal or Postal employee will perhaps see that the old ways weren’t so attractive after all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Career-ending Event

One often reads and hears about a traumatic injury which suddenly and unpredictably ends the career of a certain sports figure.  Such stories evoke sentiments of empathy, for the potential which was never entirely fulfilled, and for the personal tragedy which befalls the individual, the family, and those who admired the talent which failed to reveal its fullness.  

But in everyday life, such tragedies occur in less spectacular ways; perhaps not as sudden and unexpected incidents or injuries as to bifurcate between the day before and the day after; rather, through a chronicity of time, over months and years of struggling, until a day comes when one must admit to one’s self that the chosen career-path must be reevaluated.  

The trauma of the life-changing event is no less significant to the Federal or Postal Worker than to a star NBA, NFL or NHL player.  For the Federal or Postal worker who has worked diligently, if not quietly and unassumingly, in the chosen career path — a recognition that his or her medical condition will no longer allow continuation in the vocation, has the identical reverberations as those more notably identified, in terms of financial, economic, personal and professional significance, relevance and impact.  

In fact, sometimes even more so — because one never witnesses the long and arduous struggle for the months and years prior to making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, through the “quiet years” of using Sick Leave sparingly; of trying to maintain a semblance of competence and work-completion in the face of medical conditions which are never told, never spoken of, and never acknowledged.  

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel management, is tantamount to that “traumatic injury”; it’s just that such an event is rarely, if ever, written about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Technical Difficulties & the Problems of Life

Sometimes, regularity of activity is interrupted by what is generally deemed as “technical difficulties” and the common problems of life; and, indeed, for those who have noticed that the undersigned writer did not post a blog in the past couple of days, that is precisely what occurred — “technical glitches” which prevented the posting.

But that problems of life, including medical conditions which impact one’s ability or inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, should be as minor as everyday difficulties of life made interesting by mere technical glitches — that would be acceptable and tolerable.  But for the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from medical conditions which are so serious that they begin to impede and interfere with the very ability to perform the essential elements of one’s career, job, and positional duties — that is when Federal Disability Retirement benefits should be considered.

Ultimately, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is not a matter of choice, but one of necessity.  Unlike a technological glitch which presents a problem within a short, specified period of time; or a “life problem” which presents a difficulty where an individual must make some choices and decisions which, hopefully, would resolve such problems or at least lessen the reverberating impact of the difficulties — in contrast, a medical condition which prevents a Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, is a life-changing event, with immediate impact, future consequences, and an all-encompassing tidal wave of meaningful impingement upon one’s very being.

It is a life-changing decision; not just a technical glitch, but a road which must be taken.  In doing so, it is important to do it “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The 80% Rule and Other Considerations

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is always the future which one must plan for — the short-term future of obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management; the intermediate future of adjusting to the monetary reduction; the longer-term future of planning for another career, to supplement the income from one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

As to the last factor, the “80%” rule must always be adhered to — that while FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement allows for a person to work in the private sector and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, the greater question often involves:  Doing what?  Federal and Postal workers who have worked in the Federal Sector have done so to perfect all of the skills and knowledge for a particular career path.  As such, as with most individuals, to become “disabled” from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job is devastating not only financially, but moreover, the impact is upon one’s “life work” in so many other ways — upon one’s identity, which is bundled up so intimately in one’s career and work.

Can an injured or partially disabled Federal Employee who has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS go out and obtain a State, County or City job, or one in the private sector, which is similar to one’s former Federal job?  The general answer is “yes” — so long as one adheres to the 80% rule, and so long as the “essential elements” which you could not do, are not required in the new job.  The trick is to differentiate and justify the distinction, and such differentiation and justification can involve both medical and legal issues which should be addressed prior to acceptance of the new non-Federal job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire