Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Joy of the Mundane, Though We Knew It Not

The very concepts of “joy” and “mundane”, placed within the same breath, the same sentence, creates what is tantamount to an anomaly, a self-contradiction, an oxymoron, or at the very least a questionable positing of an invalid proposition.

For we tend to consider joy in terms of momentary elation, an extended period of satisfaction, or a sense of quietude wrapped in layers of giggling quivers.  Conversely, the mundane evokes boredom, monotony, a time devoid of elevated emotional responses; a time of negation, where the chasm between desire and duty floats apart from one another like drifting icebergs in the cold North Atlantic seas.

Until a medical condition intervenes.  Until the chronicity of a progressively deteriorating and debilitating disease or injury eats away at our body, mind and/or soul.

In a crisis, the monotony of the mundane becomes preferable; and in a protracted life of chronic ailments, that momentary period of quietude when life was merely the ordinary and the boredom of everyday existence prevailed upon a life questioned as to value, purpose, character and the eternal “why?”; it is then that one comes to realize the ultimate Zen character of enlightenment, and recognizes the living distinction between joy and the mundane.

For the Federal and Postal worker who suffers daily, Federal Disability Retirement is a viable alternative to the daily divide which has grown disproportionately magnified, between joy and the mundane.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are part of one’s bundle of employment benefits.  It is a benefit filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for those under either FERS or CSRS, and allows for early medical retirement, while tending to one’s health conditions.

We all once knew the joy of the mundane; but such knowledge quickly gets erased when a medical condition creates a crisis.  Federal Disability Retirement allows the Federal and Postal employee to relive that joy — of the mundane, the monotonous, of the everyday existence of the ordinary which we all seek and desire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: When It All Becomes Worthwhile

Aristotle’s admonishment of determining too early the virtue and reputation of an individual, can be analogously likened to the state of emotional turmoil we find ourselves in, at any given moment of one’s life.  Happiness is indeed a fleeting state of one’s being; and the history of civilization is one fraught with trembling and fear, with interludes of joyous celebration.

For the Federal and Postal employee contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the administrative process of the actual filing itself, and the patient waiting for months-on-seemingly-unending-months, is merely a continuation of the trials which the Federal and Postal Worker has had to endure within the context of a history of such trials.

We tend to view life’s events in a vacuum, as picture-perfect albums of lives lived in tandem with our selective memories.  And for evolutionary purposes, perhaps that is the only way we could survive; for, to constantly be reminded of the trials would be to relive the morbid traumas of our lives.

The Federal and Postal employee who has come to a point in his or her life such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the only viable option left, must then endure the further trial of waiting upon the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to render its decision.

In the end, when an approval is received, the sigh of relief reverberates to tell of the happiness felt in that moment of jubilation; but silent is the suffering which preceded that fleeting snowflake of time as joy floats soundlessly for a frozen frame of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Life After

At first, it begins with survival for another day; then, upon a realization that “another day” will merely bring forth a multitude of subsequent such days, the goalposts are moved to allow for several months.  Once the realization hits you that the medical condition will not merely subside or disappear, and continuation in a present mode of existence is simply not a feasible option, then the perspective as to one’s career must by necessity change.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, finally becomes an option.

Thereafter, the goal is to outlast the waiting line at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — to get through the First Stage of the process, and if necessary (and a denial is obtained instead of the approval at the initial stage), the second, Reconsideration Stage.  There are multiple stages beyond the administrative stages, of course, but whatever are the administrative and bureaucratic procedures which must be undergone, the goal is to get the approval letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

And what happens when that goal is achieved?

One finally recognizes that all such goals were merely intermediate in nature, and it is at that point that one realizes that, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the true goal is to live one’s life after separation from the Federal agency — separation in an administrative sense, certainly, but more importantly, in terms of time and medical recuperation.

Health, some financial security; a peace of mind; and a time of recuperative peace; there is indeed a life after.

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

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Continuing Care

A medical condition never has a simple solution; depending upon the nature, extent and severity of the condition, it must be “managed” and attended to throughout one’s life.  Similarly, while “filing” for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is an “event” which may constitute a series of actions which results in the “approval” of a Federal benefit, the benefit itself must be “managed” and cared for throughout a process of continuing retentive procedures.

One cannot assume that once the benefit of OPM/Federal Disability Retirement is obtained — given the hard fight which one must engage in — that the process is thereby over.  That is the reason why the foundational building-blocks which form the underlying administrative process — of the decision of which initial medical conditions to include in one’s Statement of Disability; which medical evidentiary documentation to include; how one should linguistically characterize the impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, tasks, positional duties, etc. — is of great importance in establishing the pattern of management for the future.

For, as other issues, both economic and medical, may potentially intrude upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity (i.e., whether one has earned income above or below the 80% rule; whether one has been restored medically such that OPM could argue for termination of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, etc.), it is important to maintain a stance of managing one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit throughout one’s life, until one reaches the bifurcation point at age 62 where it becomes “converted” to regular retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: When It Is the Right Time

Most people know; and still others, know that the “right” time has already passed, and is long overdue.  Doctors have already shaken their heads in disbelief, disgust or with regretful expressions of facial futility; family members have begun to whisper behind backs; friends have stopped asking to include you for events which may require physical exertion or extensive conversations which require focus, concentration or cognitive stamina.

Federal and Postal employees all across the United States, and overseas where Civilian workers are stationed, put in long and dedicated hours to accomplish the mission of agencies.  The general public at large has been allowed to critically eye the Federal or Postal worker because they are being paid through high taxes, etc.  But Federal Disability Retirement is not a “handout”; it is merely an employment benefit which allows for disabled workers to go out and remain productive in the private sector, by being allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays — and thereby continue to pay back into the system through paying of taxes, and essentially keeping it a “self-paying” system.  

No amount of shame or embarrassment should accompany the decision to file for Federal Disability benefits.  It is simply an acknowledgement which has already been realized by friends, family, and often one’s own treating doctor:  the right time has come because you have already “fought the good fight“, and it is time to move on to the next phase of life, and allow for the recuperative period of life take its course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Life after Disability Retirement

The focus upon the “now”, of course, can not be avoided; for the “now” constitutes the present circumstances, the period of preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; where the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; where the severity, chronicity and extent of the persistent pain, the overwhelming psychiatric infringement upon one’s ability to focus, concentrate, etc.; or where the ability to have the sustained stamina and daily energy has been depleted to such an experiential phenomena that the very “now” is all that one can focus upon.

There is, however, indeed a life after Federal Disability Retirement, and as much of the administrative process of obtaining the benefit is a long and arduous waiting period, it is beneficial to consider what will happen, what one will do, can do, etc., once an approval is obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Remember, in being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, one can go out and earn up to 80% of what one’s former salary pays currently.

Further, this is not OWCP — where, if one is receiving temporary total disability compensation, you cannot work at all (there are some minor exceptions under FECA/OWCP rules, such as if you were working at another part-time position of a different nature prior to the accepted date of injury, you may be allowed to continue to work that “other” job, etc.).  Nor is this SSDI, where there is a severe cap on the limit of what one may earn (although, if one is getting FERS Disability Retirement concurrently with SSDI, then there is an offset between the two).

The period of waiting can be a fertile time of preparation for life after an approval.  Or, such future plans can be placed on temporary hold for purposes of using the time for recuperative rest.  In any event, the “now” is merely a passing time of fleeting moments, as a cherry blossom withering in the early morning dew as the sun begins to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Ecstasy of Approval

Winning, of course, cures all ills; it is the pinnacle of a goal-oriented aim of any endeavor — to prevail, to obtain the intended effect, to accomplish the very goal which one has set out to do, etc.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the goal is to obtain an approval from OPM.

An approval, however, has many consequences, and often in very short order — separation from Federal service; a sudden cut in pay (if one has continued to work during the administrative process; of course, the opposite may be true if one has been on LWOP or has already been separated from Federal Service); a drastic change in daily routine, etc.

Thus, part of the process during the patient time of waiting (I will restate the syllogistic quip which I have repeatedly invoked:  Patience is a virtue; Federal and Postal employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement must be the most patient of individuals; ergo, Federal and Postal employees are the most virtuous of people) is for the Federal and Postal employee (or ex-employee, as the case may be) to prepare for the eventuality of the achieved goal, both physically (perhaps a move is contemplated because of the reduced circumstances?) and psychologically (the sudden alteration in work, economic changes, etc.).  The ecstatic response of Federal and Postal employees in being informed of an approval from the Office of Personnel Management is indeed gratifying; but it is the days, weeks and months that follow, which tests the preparatory mindset of the Federal or Postal Employee.

In psychology, there is that special Gestalt experience; but it is often the period that follows which constitutes the more important phase of psychological awakening.  Similarly, while the “win” in a Federal Disability Retirement application is indeed the intended goal, one must always remember that there is an afterlife to live, and how one prepares for that, is all the more important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: 80% Rule

Around this time of year, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sends out their Disability Earnings Survey to all Federal and Postal Disability Retirement Annuitants, to determine what earned income was obtained by the Federal or Postal Annuitant.  It is a simple form and should be completed and returned, and will not impact one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit so long as one has remained under the 80% cap.

Now, as to determining how the Office of Personnel Management determines what is the “true” 80% cap, is another matter.  There have been wide discrepancies between OPM’s determination and the Federal or Postal annuitant’s assertion as to what the “current pay” of a former position is, or should be.  That is entirely a different area of law which the undersigned writer does not become involved in.

However, the wisest thing to do, unless one desires to become engaged in a continuing, protracted battle with the Office of Personnel Management, is to calculate the amount as conservatively as possible, and to take the lower amount and remain well under 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.  While this is sometimes difficult, remember that the benefits of retaining one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity — of continuing Health Insurance Benefits, to name one — makes it worthwhile.  For, ultimately, one is potentially making 120% of what one was making before (80% of what one’s former position currently pays, plus the 40% of annuity).

Stay close to making 100%, if possible, and that will avoid future headaches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire