Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Footprints

This winter, inclement weather has befallen us with a vengeance.  Snow remains on the ground, upon ice, upon frozen ground; and more is expected.  Under such circumstances, footprints of unidentified creatures traversing the loneliness of the dead of night are left behind.  Some, we quickly dismiss as representing a known animal; others, one is less sure of.  They tell us of their presence the previous evening or nightfall, after everyone is tucked away and the dog went out for her last run.  They reveal to us that things occur even in the absence of our presence.

We often fail to realize that life continues on a linear path despite our exit from a particular place, scene, or the world at large.  Whether in gradual dissipation from everyday presence to sporadic appearances, or a sudden and immediate departure with never a return, the rest of the scene continues on, and life and livelihoods proceed on a progressive path of history.  What footprints we left behind may remain as an impression for a day, a week, or perhaps longer; but never for eternity.  It is always difficult to depart from the daily course of patterned lives.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who has been regularly involved in the daily operations of an agency, a department, etc., with interactions with supervisors, coworkers, and multiple others just by appearing and being there each day, the pattern interrupted by a medical condition is a devastation beyond words.  Federal Disability Retirement is not something which Federal and Postal Workers want to pursue; it is, instead, a benefit which is applied for through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, most often with hesitation, trepidation, and as a last resort.

Remembrances of footprints are not what lives are lived for; rather, it is the impressions left behind by those who have toiled hard to the very end, and who are remembered for their humanity, that makes all the difference in the world.

For Federal and Postal Workers who have left such a mark, those footprints remain in the minds of those who cared.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Problem of Perhaps

Perhaps it is time to approach the problem from a different perspective; perhaps it is not.  We often engage in games of self-delusions, of allowing words of self-justification to interfere with sequential and linear lines of thinking, in order to bypass the harsh reality of what is often an inevitability.

The allowance of bifurcation of thought — of the logical disjunctive of choices and options to choose from — makes an allowance of pretense to procrastinate in intellectually acceptable ways.  We sound thoughtful and intelligent when we weigh the various alternatives.  And, indeed, it is normally a “good thing” to gather, review and evaluate the options open to us, and to make the proper decision based upon such an analysis.  But at some point in the process, continuing in a morass of intellectualization becomes problematic.

When the choices are limited, clear, and necessary to act upon, to play the “perhaps” game becomes merely a way to delay the inevitable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must contemplate a drastic change of circumstances by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, engaging in such mind-games merely prolongs the process.  At some point, action must proceed from thought; and for the Federal and Postal Worker whose medical condition is such that it impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, it is the action which must prevail over the perhapses of our mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: That Sense of Doom

It can often be noted in the quivering voice at the other end of the telephone line (or, would it be more accurate to state, in the modern vernacular, at the “other end of the satellite signal”?) — that sense of impending doom that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will encompass.

But such a sense of the negative is a misguided view of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, the Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating such a course of action should recognize and realize that it is essentially a positive endeavor — one which will allow the Federal or Postal worker to start a second vocation or career, and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

Federal Disability Retirement is merely an acknowledgement that there is an inconsistency between one’s medical condition and the type of job in which one is currently employed; it does not preclude one from working altogether, unlike the stricter rules and regulations involving Federal Worker’s Compensation benefits (OWCP/Department of Labor) or even SSDI (with a much lower cap in one’s ability to earn additional income).

And that feeling of doom?  It is like what the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell once quipped when asked about the source of one’s anguish when confronted with a metaphysical conundrum:  “It is likely merely an upset stomach”.

OPM Disability Retirement is an avenue which should be seen in a positive light, and that sense of doom one often feels should be set aside, and the reality of one’s situation and the brightness of one’s future should always be emphasized.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Acts of Futility

It was Heidegger who observed that our everyday lives were merely distractions in order to avoid the ultimate encounter with our own mortality — a revelation too profound to contemplate, and thus we engage in meaningless and monotonous projects in order to shift our focus away from the stark reality of life and death.

It is indeed the human species which continually and perennially embraces various acts of futility, despite irrefutable evidence that such actions lead to no fruitful or purposive outcome.  But to cease such engagements would be to stop and think; and reflection would mean a forced quietude in which contemplation upon the state of one’s being would be unavoidable; and from there, the vast void of nihilism might encroach, and so perhaps resumption of purposeless, repetitive treadmill-like engagements are best for sanity and survival.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that one is prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, however, contemplation in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a necessity which cannot be avoided.   Further, the greatest singular act of futility in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is to wait upon an agency to act; for, as agencies exist in order to appear to act with purpose, but where inaction allows for greater exigencies and justification for existence; as such, agencies rarely act, and when they do, they do so to the detriment of the Federal or Postal employee.

Thus, the hard rule should always be:  be proactive and do not wait for an agency to accommodate or otherwise assist you.  Distractions and diversions are fine in life; but when the necessity arises to attend to one’s medical needs, you need to act, and act in the best interest of one’s own being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Automatic Pilot

Then there is the story of the individual who was driving an RV, set the acceleration mechanism on “auto”, and left the driver’s seat to go and make some coffee.  Obviously, one need not have too great an imagination as to what happened next.

“Auto pilot” is a concept which one considers in the context of comfort and alleviation of human effort; by allowing for machines and artificial intelligence to dominate and take over, such technological advances allow for human beings to engage in other pursuits.  The problem with such a perspective, however, is that most people go through life on auto-pilot to begin with; and allowing for machines and smart-technology to engage in human action merely perpetuates further thoughtless action.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one will encounter many steps and stages of the phenomena identified as “auto-pilot” — both at the Agency level, as well as the case-worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Whether because of being overworked, or after years of mundane administrative tasks which dull the intellectual capacities of the human brain, it is often difficult to “jolt” the worker into focusing upon one’s particular Federal Disability Retirement application.  While one can argue that, “If you have seen one, you have seen them all”, it is important to acknowledge that one’s own Federal Disability Retirement application is unique precisely because each medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties is identifiably singular in relevance and importance, and as such, “shaking up” the sleeping giant of auto-pilot is crucial in getting a Medical Disability Retirement claim to successful completion and approval.

To do this, it is wise to make certain that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is well-formulated, streamlined, and presented in a coherent, comprehensible whole.  That way, if one encounters an auto-pilot, it will not end up like the driver of the RV and result in a vehicle driving over the proverbial cliff.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Long-term Plan

Federal Disability Retirement is best anticipated and implemented within the larger context of a long term plan.  For, with the reduction of immediate income, replaced by an annuity which is fixed, but with a future potential to earn additional earned income in another (or even similar) vocation, it is best seen not just for the present circumstances, but as a base from which to build a greater future.

Future considerations may need to be entertained.  For example, how aggressively should Social Security Disability (SSDI) be pursued? If the Federal or Postal employee attempting to become eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will not be immediately seeking to work at another, private-sector job, and there is a good chance for qualifying for SSDI, then you may want to consider seriously attempting to qualify for SSDI.

For most people, the FERS requirement of filing for SSDI is a mere formality. For those who intend upon using the immediacy of the annuity for a recuperative period in order to attend to medical needs, then perhaps a minimal effort in applying for SSDI would be appropriate.

With the recent case of Stephenson v. OPM now firmly in the “win” column, any issue about future recalculation once a Federal or Postal employee loses his or her entitlement to SSDI benefits, has now been resolved, and the Federal or Postal annuitant need not worry about the issue.  Of course, there is a wide chasm between what “the law” says, and how quickly OPM will do what they are now mandated to do.  But in the end, OPM will have to recalculate and reinstate any amounts which were offset, once a Federal or Postal employee loses his or her SSDI benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Regardless

It matters not for a bureaucracy, as to which Party occupies the executive or legislative branches of government (regardless — and we shall refrain from irritating those linguistic perfectionists who would vociferously object to inserting the term, “irregardless”, which is a meaningless but playfully interesting word, employing a double-negative and thus leaving one with the originating root word of “regard” — the bureaucracy of any administration will proceed uninterrupted).

A recent statement foretold of a truism before and after this election:  whoever wins, one thing will be certain:  government will continue to expand, and the bureaucracy will persistently chug along.

Often, people start, stop, or continue projects, initiate necessary actions, etc., based upon what someone else decides to do or not do, by depending upon an act or event outside of one’s control.  What one must understand, however, is that the bureaucracy of any government will continue to operate, regardless of any changes at the top.

As such, for Federal or Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is best to ignore outside, third-party actions, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  To depend upon the actions of others outside of one’s control will only lead to frustration and loss of time.  Affirmatively prove your case, and file when it is time to file.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Pilot

It is actually a misnomer to connect the terms “automatic” and “pilot” , precisely because the former term completely and unilaterally undermines the latter.  Think about it:  the entire concept of the term “pilot” denotes and encompasses the ability of an individual to control the destiny, direction and distance of that which he is maneuvering; once it is turned over to an engineering phenomenon which performs the activity with data already inputted by others, such control is lost, and the fullness of what it means to pilot a vehicle becomes meaningless.

It is, ultimately, a question of who controls the destiny.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question is often one of being pulled and controlled by one’s circumstances, or becoming the pilot of one’s destiny and proceeding to dictate the terms and timing of one’s future.

Agencies by nature like to have control; whether it is in hiring, promoting, separating or engaging in adverse actions, agencies enjoy being the determining entity in all aspects of a Federal or Postal employee’s life.  One can wait for an agency to make a determination on one’s career or future; and, to that extent, they become the “automatic pilot” of one’s destiny.

It is up to the Federal or Postal employee to make a decision as to whether or not one should erase the former term, leaving one with the unmistakable role of being the pilot who determines one’s own destiny.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Moving beyond the Stagnant Waters of OWCP

“Is it possible…” is an impossible question to answer.  For, the conceptual distinction between that which is possible, as opposed to probable, is one which reveals the chasm between the world of fantasy and one of reality.  The world of the “possible” is unconstrained and unbounded; the world of probable occurrences may be fenced in by statistical constructs, actual circumstances, and real-world experiences.

While it is possible to stay on OWCP for a long duration, it is also probable that OWCP will cut off one’s benefits at some future, undetermined and unexpected time.  Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who is on, has been on, or even is contemplating filing for, OWCP/FECA benefits because of a work-related injury, the benefit itself is attractive enough to remain on the rolls of OWCP until such time as (A) the Federal or Postal employee can return back to work, (B) the Federal or Postal Worker is deemed recovered, and the OWCP benefits are cut off, or (C) the Federal or Postal Worker decides to “move on” in life.

The first two choices are essentially out of the arena of “control” of the Federal or Postal employee, for one cannot determine or expedite the recovery period of a medical condition, and further, only the doctor (or its surrogate, the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) can determine whether or not the Federal or Postal work is now recovered.  As for the last choice, however, it is the Federal or Postal worker who can make the determination — especially if one has already gotten an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

OWCP is not a retirement system; one cannot work at another job while on OWCP; one must sit and do what the OWCP case worker tells you to do.  It is only with Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, that one can actually engage in another, alternative vocation or career, and begin to move on in life, and become released from the stagnant waters of a constraining medical condition — or that of OWCP.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire