Federal Disability Retirement: Game Changers

Often, it is not the substantive material submitted, but the approach to an endeavor which alters the character of an encounter, and results in victory by acceptance and submission, in contradistinction to victory and defeat.  Such is the essential difference between the games of chess and of Go — the latter, originating in ancient China some 2,500 years ago, and employing a strategy of subtle surroundings, rarely including a direct frontal assault.  The Game of Go requires a perspective of the whole; and while (like chess) anticipation of future moves can help, it is the last move in relation to the whole of all prior moves, which will determine the future success.

With this, there is a parallelism with Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  As in the Game of Go, it is the past which has brought one to the present circumstances; one’s future will be determined by how one approaches what is occurring in the current presentation of the board.

The battle against the medical condition itself may have taken many years; such is the nature of battling the subtleties of a medical condition, where much of it involves bearing the pain, remaining quiet through turmoils, and attempting to silently pass through life unnoticed.  But as with the Game of Go, a critical juncture arrives, where the wrong move will determine the future course of territories lost, or gained.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, is often the critical point of departure for the Federal or Postal worker suffering from a medical condition and finding the need to separate and find that plateau of places where rehabilitation for the future becomes a necessity.

Future security depends upon moves made in the present; present strategies are based upon grounds gained or lost depending upon past moves; and recognizing that now is the time to prepare for the future, is the first step, both for the Federal and Postal worker needing to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, as well as for the player who dares to master the Game of Go.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Game of Go

The game of Go involves planning, strategy, finesse, a sense of when to aggressively pursue, and a lesson of when to withdraw.  It is a game originating from China, thousands of years old, yet identical in play and rules today.  It is a game of daily living; and, indeed, even the tactile component of feeling the soft smoothness of each stone as you place them on the surface of the playing board, along with the geometric beauty of the patterns which your opponent complements as you lay your handiwork — all with the attribute of two basic colors:  black and white.

One can always make too much of an analogy between sports and life; fiction and reality; a mere game, and a process.  Games ultimately are what they are:  a play which, in the end, has no significance beyond the entertainment of the moment.  But some games help to sharpen one’s sense of daily living.

The metaphor and analogy to be applied between the game of Go and practicing law, including preparing, formulating and filing on behalf of Federal and Postal employees to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the need to understand the process; to present the evidence in a bold and unabashed manner; and to understand the “opponent” and what the opposition represents and will likely do.

Preempting what the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is likely to do in response to one’s handiwork, is an essential part of both the game of Go and of any practice of law.  That is why a legal strategy is important and relevant in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — for, like the game of Go, unless you make the proper connections between the medical evidence, the law, one’s positional duties, and one’s statement of disability, you will be surrounded by your opponent’s tactile placement of experienced handiwork, and find that all of your efforts have come to naught.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Interaction with OWCP/DOL

I receive calls periodically as to whether it is of greater advantage to remain on Worker’s Comp (Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Program — “OWCP”) as opposed to going out on OPM Disability Retirement.  My answer remains the same:  OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM disability retirement is indeed that — it is a retirement, where one is separated from Federal Service, and you go out and do what you want to with your life.  Every decision has consequences; every act which we engage in has inherent residual effects, and we have to balance such effects and consequences.  Thus, while OWCP benefits pay a higher rate (75% tax free with a dependent; 66 2/3% tax free without a dependent), there are restrictions:  You must comply with any and all requests (or demands) of the Department of Labor; you cannot go out and get another job, or start another career — because you are deemed “disabled” and are being paid for it.  On the other hand, OPM disability retirement pays less (for FERS, 60% the first year, 40% every year thereafter), but you have the freedom of retirement — you may go out and start another career, and make up to 80% of what your former position currently pays, without losing your disability annuity.  These — and many other factors — are some things to consider when weighing the differences between OPM disability retirement, and receiving OWCP/DOL benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire