Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Unknown

Irrational fears reflect the extent of human imagination, and the creative capacity of the human species to engage in fantasies.  For, in the animal kingdom distinct from civilization, the ability to survive depends upon accurately assessing real-time dangers and impending surroundings and circumstances; to go after imaginary ones merely exhausts the reserves needed to battle against real dangers.

That is why the virtual world of modern video games is so detrimental to the proper development of children; experts miss the real point:  the world of make-believe is more exciting than the objective world we live in — witness which is preferable, real time deer hunting (a monotonous adventure at best), or being able to shoot at will at a video arcade.  But it is ultimately the unknown which haunts and stresses most.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must contend with the real issues of a debilitating medical condition, the unknown of one’s future; the unknown of the reaction of one’s agency; the unknown of when and what decision will be rendered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is never as exciting as the virtual world of the video arcade, or as depicted in the privacy of sitting at one’s personal computer.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is oftentimes a surreal experience; but it is never like a video game, because there are real-life consequences which result from the action, just as the medical condition itself is a reality which cannot be avoided, unlike the switch from virtual-reality to objective-reality, with the push of a button of one’s PC.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

The state of being nameless or faceless, of being unknown and yet surrounded by the greater populous, is a condition known as anonymity.  But being unknown or unidentified does not necessarily imply irrelevance or unimportance; for, often the state of anonymity is itself something which famous people seek and deliberately embrace.

Stories abound of the wealthy Howard Hughes who, in his eccentric later years, sought such a state of being; or of presidents past who attempted to become part of the crowd, until the Secret Service became overly dictatorial.  But for those who seek the opposite of anonymity, there is perhaps a partial explanation for the desire to plaster every personal detail on Facebook pages or to send texting images of that which should remain private and confidential.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the journey to seek an approval from a morass of thousands of similar applications, is tantamount to discovering a means of escaping anonymity.  For, one’s own Federal Disability Retirement application, lost in a stack of multiple similar such applications, must be properly identified, reviewed, evaluated, and hopefully approved.

Ultimately, if and when OPM finally gets to one’s particular case, the most effective way of avoiding anonymity is to have prepared, formulated, and compiled the best Federal Disability Retirement application possible.  That is when anonymity meets successful identification, and out of the faceless and nameless population, yours will be identified and presented with a return sought after:  an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: A Sudden Awareness

One often muddles through life, so long as nothing extraordinary occurs.

A medical condition may begin to impact the Federal or Postal employee, perhaps in a peripheral, non-threatening manner, at first; then, over time, a series of events occurs; perhaps, like the domino effect we witness in a causal calamity of sequential occurrences, to wit:  the medical condition; a second condition, this time requiring a new medication regimen; side effects; further manifestations of symptoms; a new diagnosis; missing more work than usual; sidelong glances from supervisors and coworkers; and before one realizes the full import of what has happened, one suddenly becomes aware that no longer is one considered that “star employee” by the agency, but a malingerer, a problem-child, and one who is teated in a fashion as in the old remnants of leper colonies.

When such a time erupts, and at a moment of such awareness, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

While not offering the perfect solution, it does allow for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, a way out of an otherwise untenable position:  a time for recuperation; a level of financial security; a potential for engaging a second vocation and earning additional money above and beyond the disability annuity.  That sudden awareness is an indicator; in a similar manner to the revelation of symptoms, which is a signal of the body trying to warn a person of an impending medical crisis, so the awareness that one’s peers, coworkers and supervisors are viewing you in a different light is a triggering mechanism which should be heeded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Milestones

The expanded meaning of a “milestone” encompasses events of personal successes, where the capacity of the human will exceeds an expectation of what one thought one could do.  In its original and mundane conceptual history, a milestone was merely one in a series of numerical markers designating and identifying distance.  

For the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to endure a medical condition, a “milestone” can often be a period of time in which to reach; a three-day weekend to survive; a date on a calendar to arrive at, surpass, and continue to endure.  But while such milestones may provide a focal point to reach, the reality is that it is merely a representation on a linear continuum of days, weeks, months — until the years come and go.  

Federal Disability Retirement is an option to consider for those Federal and Postal workers who are suffering from a chronic medical condition, where such milestones may be deemed irrelevant by allowing for a life of recuperative days.  

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is in itself a milestone of sorts.  It is a recognition that there is, and can be, life beyond the federal sector; that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s particular kind of job; but, moreover, one can expect to find another vocation which may not be impacted as severely by one’s medical conditions.

Passing a milestone may be a positive step; using the milestone as a basis for a better future is more than a positive step — it is a step to secure one’s future, especially for the injured and sick Federal worker who may need to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: During the Lengthy Process

During the “waiting time” of the lengthy process in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to begin the secondary process of preparing for the next “phase” of one’s life.  

Many Federal and Postal workers unfortunately view the waiting period — that period when one’s Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed, and is waiting for a determination by a Case worker at the Office of Personnel Management — as a time where everything is on “hold” because the lack of a determinative decision results in a paralysis of an ability to plan for the future.  However, submission to such paralysis would be a mistake, and a misuse of the most valuable resource which one has:  time.  For, ultimately, one must make future plans based upon an assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved.  

This assumption is based upon the factual underpinnings of the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself:  it was filed with the support of a doctor; the Federal or Postal worker is unable to continue in his or her job; the medical condition is expected to last a minimum of 12 months.  If all three of these basic criteria are met, then one must proceed with the assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will ultimately be approved.  

Based upon the foregoing, the time of waiting should be spent — not in anxious despair and despondency because of the wait — but rather, in preparing for the future.  To allow for those things which one has no control over to control one’s life would be a foolish endeavor.  OPM will ultimately make a decision, and whether at the First Stage of the Process, the Reconsideration Stage, or before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board, one should be preparing for the next phase of one’s life.

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

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The Wait Seems Longer

For those waiting for their Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, pending before the Office of Personnel Management, the wait seems to be getting longer and longer.  Whether at the initial stage of the application process, or at the Reconsideration Stage, OPM is taking longer to make a decision on a pending application.  Everyone, of course, wants his or her application to be the next in line; and, indeed, it is all the more frustrating when an applicant is told that a decision will be made “within the next 2 weeks”, and after the 2-week period comes and passes, still no decision. 

What makes it worse is that, even after an approval, there seems to be longer delays in processing the approved application before payment is received.  Further, even after the “interim” payments begin, there appears to be a longer wait before a case is “finalized” for payment processing.  Each period of delay results in a ripple-effect throughout the system as a whole, and indeed, in these economic times of hardship, it  places an even greater burden upon those who need the financial benefit most — those who are disabled, and who rely upon the benefit of disability retirement payments for their very livelihood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire