OPM Disability Retirement: The Walking Anomaly

The identity of a person is represented by a composite of memories held, present activities engaged, and future endeavors planned, thus bringing into a complex presence the times of past, present and anticipated future.  It is because of this walking anomaly — of not just an entity living in the present, but of someone who possesses the retentive capacity of memories past, and plans made and being generated for future actions — that the complexity of the human condition can never be fully grasped.

For the individual, therefore, who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition or disability interferes with the delicate balance of the tripartite composite, the fear of destruction of present circumstances, and diminished ability for future progress, is what complicates matters, in addition to the capacity to remember how things were, which only exacerbates one’s anxiety and angst, in addition to the medical condition itself. It is like being caught eternally in the middle of a three-day weekend: one is saddened by the day already passed; one anticipates an additional day, but the knowledge of the diminishing present makes for realization that the future is merely a bending willow in the winds of change, inevitably able to be swept aside.

For the Federal employee or the Postal worker 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, it is that recognition of past performances and accolades, of accomplishments and successes, combined with present potentialities yet unfulfilled, which makes for a tragedy of intersecting circumstances.  Filing for Federal Disability benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, should not, however, diminish the hope for the future.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the impacted Federal or Postal worker to receive an annuity, and continue to remain productive and plan for the future. It is the solution for many Federal employees and Postal workers who are too young to retire, and have invested too much to simply “walk away” with nothing to show for the time of Federal service already measured.

In the end, Federal Disability Retirement may not be the best option, but the only viable option available, and for the walking anomaly known as man, OPM Disability benefits may be the methodology to complete that unfulfilled potentiality yet to be achieved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Once upon a Time

Once upon a time, there were great “causes” for which people fought to live for; evil empires which desired domination and for which the world went to war; liberties denied and suppressed, resulting in meaningful mass protests; and in the microcosm of individual lives, hope for a future and a better tomorrow, for which people married, had families, and strove for stability.

In today’s world, the opposite seems to prevail; the news is replete with trivial reasons to exit life; if one is turned down when a prom invitation is issued, it is a basis for an outrageous reaction; assertions of hurt feelings can be the foundation for court filings declaring a violation of rights; and when a society mandates the importance of rights over courteous behavior, the crumbling of foundational structures is not too far from a once-distant and dark future.

The famous and classic book by Harper Lee encapsulates the contrast of great and small troubles; of a microcosm reflecting larger issues worthy of consideration; but always, there was a sense that tomorrow would bring about a brighter future.  In it, Atticus speaks of the idea that one can never quite understand another unless one walks in his shoes, and looks at things from the other’s perspective.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, such a sense of the world is a well-known commodity.  All of a sudden, one becomes a pariah, when one may have been that shining star just a month before.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for Federal and Postal Workers who seek a brighter tomorrow, and for whom greater causes still exist. That is why the benefit allows for the potential and possibility of the Federal Worker to seek other employment and a second vocation; for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits recognize the worth of the individual, and the fact that there is life after the devastating effects of a medical condition which may end one’s Federal or Postal career.

One may laugh at such notions, or have the cynical view that Federal Disability Retirement is merely one of those benefits for which the Federal government is giving another proverbial “handout”; but the fact is, like Atticus Finch in the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, there is always a brighter future for every generation, no matter the despair one may feel at any given moment in history.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Time is Now

Waiting for the perfect storm is always the most persuasive grounds for procrastination; that time where coalescence of all necessary factors come together to provide the optimal moment to do something, but which never arrives; and so there is always one issue still to point to, where one can say, “X has not occurred, yet,” in order to delay the inevitable.

The problem with allowing for perfection to prevent action, is that in the meantime it allows for the deterioration of surrounding circumstances and conditions to occur, thereby further exacerbating the allowance for any such perfection to appear.  Grounds always exist to excuse an action; and when the seriousness of contemplating a change of vocation or stoppage of a career is at stake, such grounds are normally reasonable and real.  But at some point, especially when contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must simply acknowledge the fact that one’s present circumstance itself is less-than-a-perfect situation, and with that admission, to weigh the factors in deciding whether filing for FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement is the only viable option left.

In a fantasy-filled virtual world, it may well be that one can wait for the coming-together of perfect circumstances; in the “real” world, one must face and decide upon options which may not always present themselves as the best of all possible worlds.

The problem with today is that many of us live in the virtual world of videos; but there is a Kantian world of objectivity out there, and the coldness of that world is often reflected in the very agencies for which Federal and Postal Workers work.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Workers: “Why?”


The ability to question is perhaps the highest form of consciousness.  Without it, the next level of any narrative form would cease, and no prompting of a search for an answer will develop.

That is why effective trial work — from persuasive direct examinations to devastating cross-examinations, guided by pointedly-prepared questioning — requires thoughtfulness and contemplated direction.  Some questions, however, become avenues for paralysis.  They may, for a time, help to ease the troubles of one’s soul, but they are ultimately unanswerable ones which cannot be comprehended in the limited universe of one’s mind.

Thus, when a Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition asks the question,”Why?” — it is legitimate, but one which may not have an adequate answer.  One must instead progress to a more pragmatic question: What to do about it. Where to go from here.  The “why” may need to be left aside, for another time, during a more contemplative period of recuperation.

For Federal and Postal workers, time itself can be a critical factor, and in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, because the bureaucratic process itself is a long and complicated one, it may be of benefit to set aside some questions, and instead focus upon the pragmatic questions which set one upon a path of purposive direction.

The height of man’s consciousness may be the result of evolutionary factors, but the most fundamental of questions should begin with that primitive foundation of all: self-preservation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

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 Employee Medical Retirement: The Knowledge of Others

It is often the spouse, or even the unnamed friend, who comes to recognize the need — even before the Federal or Postal employee.  Whether because of the distance between the person and the medical condition, or out of pure empathy, the “other person” knows that it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement.  When that knowledge is conveyed to the person who actually suffers from the medical condition itself, then it is beyond the point of filing; it is, indeed, time to file.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the truth of the matter is that shirkers are rare, and a premature filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application is rarer still.

Federal and Postal employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits wait until the point at which self-destructive continuation has already passed.  In fact, in many cases, the applicant’s own treating doctor has already repeatedly advised to “change jobs”, “switch careers”, “do something else in life before you really damage yourself”, etc.

That is why there is a (rightful) sense of injustice and unfairness when the agency itself is taken aback, and acts as if there is some nefarious motivation underlying the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application.  However, what is important, as in all matters of importance, is the self-knowledge that it is indeed time, and those who question one’s motive know not what one’s family, friends, and caring “others” have already determined.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Once the Decision is Made

It is often the decision itself which is the greatest hurdle in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  The decision itself is the all-encompassing beginning point, the obstacle which must be reviewed, analyzed, discussed, and ultimately overcome.

Once that decision is made, then the floodgates open with respect to the approach, the procedural issues, the time-frame within which to file, the garnering of support from one’s doctor; the legal avenues and pitfalls which must be confronted; the financial burden which must be faced and adjusted to; contending with issues at work; whether to inform the agency’s Human Resources office at this point or when the Federal Disability Retirement application has been prepared and is ready for submission; whether and what to discuss or hint at with one’s supervisor; which medical information to include or merely weave throughout the narrative of one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the problem of quantifying in a substantive manner one’s medical conditions; how best to characterize the essential elements of one’s job; the connecting of all of the dots; the building of the nexus between one’s positional description and the medical conditions suffered.

These are merely a few of the issues which must be confronted once the decision to proceed is made.  Federal Disability Retirement is an important decision to embrace; it should be treated in accordance with its important status.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Chronic Medical Conditions

The concern is often expressed in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, that if a medical condition has been suffered with for multiple years, and perhaps even “pre-existing” the time of Federal Service, and further, since the Federal or Postal employee has been able to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, how can it be characterized as a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?  

The answer to such a concern is actually quite simple: The Federal or Postal employee has been able to manage life, activities and the essential elements of one’s job for multiple years; the chronicity of the condition is simply an inherent part of the nature of the particular medical condition; whether because of age, or slow, progressively deteriorating impact upon the body or psyche, the medical condition has ultimately taken its “toll” upon one’s physical, mental and/or emotional capacity of the Federal or Postal worker.  

Sometimes, there comes a point where the wall of tolerance to stress, pain or other increasingly debilitating symptoms can go no further.  The fact that the Federal or Postal worker has been able to perform the essential elements of the job for so many years is simply a testament to the endurance of the Federal or Postal Worker.  This is why it is important to maintain a blunt, honest and forthright line of communication with one’s treating doctor.  Often, the doctor will be the one who, for years, has encouraged the Federal or Postal worker to seek disability retirement.  

It may be that the time has come to take the doctor up on his or her advice, and to begin talking about the type of narrative and administrative support needed to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esqire