Federal Disability Retirement: The Pathway of Choice

Pathways are peculiar entities; pre-Google Map times, they were a maze of forbidden routes, romanticized by a generation who were familiar with the television series, Route 66, and about hitchhiking, wrong turns, Robert Frost’s famous poem and Rand McNally road maps.

Now, of course, Google guides, directs, and (sometimes) allows for avoidance of unnecessary delays.  But is it the pathway of choice, and even more importantly, is the pathway chosen the best one for each one of us, the most advantageous for us, and the one which ultimately is in our best interests?  If the pathway that is chosen is simply so because all others are never known, or merely because that is the Robert-Frost-look-alike, when in fact it is delimited because of our lack of knowledge, is it really out of choice or of necessity?

Perhaps the career chosen is not turning out to be the realization of one’s dreams; or, as sometimes happens, an unfortunate set of circumstances has intervened — like a medical condition — and suddenly the pathway of choice that we thought would fulfill our hopes and dreams no longer seems possible; then what?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows us to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the pathway of choice for the immediate future may seem constricted:  Stay put and suffer; walk away with nothing; or, prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

That is the tripartite fork in the immediate road on the way to one’s pathway of choice; but then, there are other “forks in the road” beyond, such as being able to work at another job after one has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether in the private sector or in a state, county or municipal employment scenario.

Don’t be restricted to the immediacy of one’s pathway of choice, for there are many forks beyond, and the pathway of choice as dictated by Google maps only tells you which turn to make in the next quarter mile, and not about what may be chosen in future lives yet unforeseen.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preponderance of the Evidence

It is the legal standard by which civil (non-criminal) adjudications are based upon, and whether or not it can be rationally demarcated as against other standards – i.e., “Clear and convincing evidence” or “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a question for legal theorists and the schools rendered under the general aegis of, “The Philosophy of Law” – is a valid question in and of itself.

For, we can dress prettily and puff up the definition of what it all means, and bifurcate and explain how the three standards are distinct and differentiated by the increasing severity of the criteria to be applied, but in the end, the juror who goes back into the room to consider the guilt or innocence, the fault or apportioned negligence, is entirely subjective.

For, is there a clear demarcation as to what “reasonable” is?  Can one delineate what is “clear” to one and “convincing” to another?  If a witness has perfect recall and a persuasive manner of telling a “story”, if one juror blurts out, “Oh, but his eye twitched and he was clearly lying through his teeth!” – what then?  And the concept that one side has a “preponderance of the evidence”, or to put it in different but equally confusing terms like “more likely than not” or “the greater weight of truth” – what do all of these analogies and metaphors mean, in the end?

Surely, there are the “easy” cases – an entire football stadium who saw a man shoot another, and the assailant who confesses to the murder; these, we can say are “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but even then, a single juror who has a beef against societal constrains can “nullify” a verdict by holding out.  So, what is the answer (or, for some who are still confused, “what is the question”)?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are entering the legal arena of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the expectation, of course, is that the OPM Medical Retirement application will be approved at the first or second stages of the process – i.e., at the Initial Stage of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, or at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process after an initial denial.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee must – and should – consider the Third Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, which involves an Administrative Judge before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  That is when the legal standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence” will ultimately become relevant and operative, and where the evidence gathered and the amalgamation of arguments proffered becomes a basis for testing the validity of legal standards and the meaningful application of the law, evidence, and statutory interpretations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Little Engine that Couldn’t

It is an educational tool utilized to impart upon children the value of hard work and unfettered optimism, but one wonders, At what point should the harsh realities of the world be included?  How, sometimes there are situations where the obstacles are so great and the conspiratorial caverns so deep that the graph of upward mobility is but a mere mirage in life’s cycle of certitude. The balance between the benefit of maintaining optimism in the face of adversity, and tempering unrealistic expectations, is a scale of justice which is delicately configured throughout life.

While the tale of the Little Engine that Could represents the cultural and societal impetus for encouraging work, fair play, persistence and a positive attitude, some of life’s obstacles serve to cut short the capacity and ability to achieve stated first goals.  Medical conditions tend to do that.  Whether primarily physical or secondarily psychiatric, or inversely impacted, a progressively debilitating medical condition saps the self-confidence of the individual, and eats away at the abilities of the patient.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers, when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee, consideration must be given to one’s future, and that future planning should include filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement benefits encompasses all Federal and Postal employees, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, so long as the Federal or Postal employee has met the minimum eligibility requirements: 18 months of Federal Service for those under FERS, and 5 years for those under CSRS (which is essentially assumed that anyone under CSRS already has at least 5 years of Federal Service).

Further, if the Federal or Postal employee is still on the rolls of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or has not been separated for more than 31 days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application must be routed first through one’s Human Resource Office of one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service (for the latter, the central processing point for all Federal Disability Retirement applications for Postal Workers is located in Greensboro, N.C.), then to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

Implicit in this requirement, of course, is that there is a “Statute of Limitations” as to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  All Federal Disability Retirement applications must be filed within 1 year from the date of separation from Federal Service.  Thus, if a Federal or Postal employee is terminated, or has resigned, and a Federal Disability Retirement application is filed, the (now former) Federal or Postal employee must file within 1 year of the date of separation — but if separated for less than 31 days, then through one’s former agency or U.S. Postal Service, and if over 31 days, then directly to Boyers, PA, which is the “intake” processing office for OPM for all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Whether the Federal or Postal employee ever read or heard tell of the tale of the Little Engine that Could, the time for filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is when that proverbial engine gives out, and when life’s harsh realities turns the story of optimism and hope into a pragmatic approach in order to secure one’s future; for, sometimes, life accords engines which need fine-tuning, and medical conditions represent just that sort of mechanical need, for the Little Engine that once Could which turned into the Little Engine that Couldn’t.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The idealist, the skeptic and the cynic

The idealist possesses the dreams of hope and promise; the skeptic, the singe of hurt enough to dampen the spirit; and the cynic, well, he is the grumpy old man who has seen it all, been battered about by the reality of experiential confrontations where tales make the sweat pour from salted wounds too hurtful for words to embrace.

Do they represent a tripartite spectrum of thoughts, feelings and motives, or merely unconnected differences demarcated by time, encounters and length of procrastinated envy?  Do we all begin with the zeal of idealism, pass through the comfort of skepticism, then end up bedridden in the cocoon of cynicism?  Does generational wisdom conveyed by the old to youth ever pause the bursting bubble of naive relish, where mistakes foreseen and palpably avoidable allow for the wounds of time to be delayed, such that skepticism never enters into the unwelcome gates of a soul’s purity?  Or, does destruction of the essence of a person necessarily result in a society where generational transfer of wisdom is scoffed at, and youth and its folly is celebrated merely because beauty is defined by age, sound judgment by pharmaceutical ingestion, and where mistakes made are linguistically altered by clever euphemisms which extinguish not the pain of experiential confrontation, but the narrative which meekly follows?

Whether as inevitable stages of growth and decay, or dots on a graph of spectral divergence, either and all are extremes which reflect the stage of life, experience and historical context which an individual has encountered.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker whose calloused soul has already been deadened by time and degree of harassment, the additional burden of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one, if not more than one, of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the time may have come to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, once the Federal or Postal employee reaches the minimum years of eligibility criteria, the proof by a preponderance of the evidence must be shown.

For such a Federal or Postal employee, it matters not whether life has yet to dampen one’s idealism; nor that experiential harassment in the workplace has failed to turn one into a skeptic; or if cynicism has already prevailed, all the more reason to file for OPM Disability Retirement before the pain of the medical condition consumes to the extent that life’s despondency has already wrought.  In the end, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is a necessity because of life’s encounters, and no man or woman can escape the scars of time, truth of weariness of soul, where the idealist lives on in the forgotten youth of our memories, the skeptic in the hardening callouses of our experience, and cynicism in the dying disregard of one’s mournful essence in losing the sensation of one’s inner being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The False Option of Extremes

-The choices we make are contingent upon the knowledge we possess; thus, if we choose between a tripartite offering of x, y & z, when (as perhaps illustrated by Venn Diagrams within a rectangular border representing the “universal” set of possibilities) actual and available options may extend beyond the known quantities available, then we have made our decision based upon an ignorance of alternatives.

Offerings are generally made based upon self-centered care; in negotiating with an adversary, it is normally the option of extremes which are granted:  Either X, or Y, but not both, and if neither X nor Y, then consequence-T.  No mention is made concerning the availability of sub-options Xx, or Yy, to the remaining result of T1, 2 or 3.  Furthermore, when the concealment or unrevealed alternatives fail to be presented, it is often the case that only the extreme of options are conveyed, which makes the entire set of non-universal choices false in their very definition.  This can be exponentially quantified when a medical condition is introduced into the equation, precisely because mental acuity and sound judgment become influenced by desperation of circumstances.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the false option of extremes can very likely be attributable to fear, lack of knowledge, combined with loss of confidence in the fair distribution of justice and good sense.

It is indeed troubling that so many Federal and Postal workers know nothing about Federal Disability Retirement, or its availability after having worked just 18 months in the Federal sector (under FERS), or 5 years under CSRS.  The confusion can sometimes arise in the availability of Social Security Disability, which is distinct and separate from Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The two are distinct and different in multiple ways:  the criteria to qualify; the nature of the benefit; the rules concerning employment after approval of either, etc.  Yes, if under FERS both SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement are granted, there is an “offset” tantamount to a coordination of benefits between the two, but for those who do not seek outside employment, the combination of both (despite the offset) will normally net the (former) Federal or Postal employee more in terms of a monthly annuity.

Whatever the reasons, the age-old adage (attributable to Sir Francis Bacon) that knowledge is power, and lack of it injustice and contempt (the addendum clause is merely added by this author) by those who possess but offer mere false alternatives, is but a pervasive truism abounding despite the Internet, Google and other information-searching technologies of modernity.

In the end, the false options of extremes should be countered by a deliberative intent and real curiosity to know — know that the “other side” is never truly looking out for your best interest; that in making spur-of-the-moment decisions, to take a further moment to investigate and reflect may be fruitful, and in the end, to recognize that for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, working on at the expense of one’s health, or resigning, are not the only two options available, but preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is also within the subset of universal alternatives available to the Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: McKenna’s Pass

It was an old mining town, once boasting of a bustling main street, filled with commotion, commerce and conversation, where expectations of future success and advancement were brimming with hope and activity.  People said that it would always be the bellwether of the country; as McKenna’s Pass went, so goes the nation.

The origin of its name was somewhat in dispute.  Old Timers who harkened of past days of glory tried to inject their hoarse voices over the din of youth to get their two cents in, that the origination of the town’s name came from when the days of ore traders would pass through to cities of greater significance, and McKenna just happened to pause for a few days longer than most, and thus the designation.

Others of a more youthful persuasion attributed the misnomer and thought it concealed the darker side of the town’s council, where “Past” was grammatically mispronounced in their minds despite the prominent sign at the north entryway of the town; but then, who among those who live in a place ever notice the signs coming in?  Growth, future prospects and the promise of unceasing expectations would outpace even the greatest of cities.  “They’ll see,” was always the reply when doubts surfaced; always, there was a glint of mischief pervading, as if the “insiders” knew something beyond what the rest of the nation didn’t.

Somewhere along the line, something happened.  No one knows what, or how, or even when.  The first sign was the grocery store that closed; the owner’s wife suddenly died, and it was like the oxygen was sucked out of a vibrant life, and without warning an implosion left a devastation beyond repair.  Then, graffiti appeared; people never suspected the kids from their own neighborhoods, as the pride of McKenna’s Pass was beyond such acts of hooliganism.  Other towns and cities may have been ashamed of their residents and nefarious neighbors who engaged in untold acts in the dead of night; this town never had to look away, or so the thought was.  Then a gas explosion ripped through the Southwestern end of Main Street; rumors began to surface; the Town Council’s senior member resigned with charges of kickbacks.

Change was in the air; inevitably, future expectations once anticipated by youthful folly was butting heads with the reality of present circumstances.  People could smell the aroma of death or, if not such a dramatic and sudden cessation, certainly decay around the edges.

Medical conditions and changes in one’s future plans have a tendency to do just that.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that one’s invincible plans of latter years of youthful enthusiasm are now requiring the tinkering of repair and replacement, the view towards change can be merely a picture window needing an alteration of interior design.  Medical conditions can prompt the necessity for change; and while change is often difficult to accept and undertake, one cannot fight against those forces beyond one’s control.

When the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker begins to experience an inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal Sector or the U.S. Postal Service, it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, as the townspeople in McKenna’s Pass may have thought that the future would always be one of growth, advancement and greater achievement, the reality is that contraction often follows expansion, and the certitude that life never remains static is a truth where youth’s folly ignores the wisdom of ages, as the empty buildings and hollow passageways echoing of silent plans left unfulfilled reverberate through the once-promising days of a town we knew as “McKenna’s Pass”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire