Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Our place in the world

One morning, we wake up and go into the backyard or, perhaps if one is living in an apartment, simply observe some trees or a little oasis of nature — a park; a clump of bushes situated in a grove of lawns coalescing; or just a singular mulberry tree that has grappled upon a cracked corner of the concrete jungle where some soil has erupted, surviving in the middle of a desert of the city’s impervious view; and a bird sits and sings.

We don’t think about the bird:  Does it know where its place is in the world?  Did it struggle as a young bird-ling to find its place, to “fit in”, to be “unique” and thus “special”?  No — it is just us humans who engage in that sort of thinking — of the awkward youth who tries to find his or her place in the universe; of going through those difficult years finding one’s place, one’s niche, and one’s solace in the troubled waters of one’s soul.

Are those merely foolish thoughts of a young person — do we all eventually grow out of it and return to the level of cynicism and conclude that it’s all bosh, and there is no such thing as one’s “place” in this cold and impersonal universe?  It is a safe haven, is it not, to remain as one’s father and forefather’s placement offered, and not have to think about one’s place independently and separately?

To that extent, birds and others who merely survive based upon instinct and thoughtless intuitiveness possess a survival advantage over those who must search and become affirmed:  There is no need to find one’s place, for that has already been pre-determined from generations ago.  Then, in later life, what does one do when one has lost one’s identity?  If you never searched for it to begin with, will it feel as a “loss” if you lose something you never attained in your own right in the first place?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, part of the fear, angst and anxiety in initiating and proceeding with the process of Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the loss of our place in the world.  For, that career that you worked so hard to sustain — whether in an administrative field, a technical niche or as an expert in this or that elite vocation — may have to either come to an end, or become modified to accommodate your medical conditions.

Your “place in the world” may become upended, and that is often a fear that must be confronted.  But like the hummingbird that seeks the nectar of life’s offerings, if health is not the first priority that makes it all worthwhile, then you’ve likely mistaken which priorities need to be first in line, lest you mistakenly think that your Federal Agency or the Postal Service will help you in the never-ending quest for one’s place in the world.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Medical conditions and the “to-do” list

We often approach everything in life in a repetitive, systematic manner; of a routine which engenders habituation of comfort, and of identity harkening to obsession of similitude.  It is said of Kant that his neighbors set and corrected their watches and clocks according to the regularity of his walks, as his life maintained a predictability of precision so reliable that error could only be ascribed to a mechanical defect, and never to his human constancy.

It is as if there is an internal “checklist” in order to attain a progression of human development, and in an effort to achieve that advancement, both of thought and of physical growth, we must be assured of completion and fulfillment.  But medical conditions are never like that; we cannot “do something about it” and expect to “check it off” of our “to-do” list, only to move on to the next item on the itinerary.  A pastor once quipped, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  True enough; although, there could have been an addendum:  “And where there are problems, you can always find impure motives.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the problem is one of duality of purpose:  For the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, the approach of attempting to “check off” the medical condition as another item on a “to-do” list is always rebutted by the stark reality of the medical condition itself; and from the Federal agency’s perspective (or the Postal Service’s), the thought-process of “when will it go away” simply avoids the issue, and fails to address the problem of the conflict which arises.

Thus, the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement is there for the Federal or Postal employee, precisely to allow for those circumstances in which (A) the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to be able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, (B) the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months — not that one must wait for 12 months, but rather, that the prognosis by a doctor or medical provider is willing to state that the medical condition will, within reasonable medical probability, last for that long, and (C) accommodation of the medical condition is not possible, and reassignment to a position at the same pay or grade will not ameliorate the situation.

In the end, medical conditions defy the human attempt to treat it as merely another obstacle to overcome, or an irritant to set aside.  It is a condition of human existence which represents a trial for a linear life we attempt to manage, when in fact a change of course is often the remedy, and not the repetition of comfort found in the thoughtless quietude of habit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Out to Pasture

There is a natural proclivity by the previous generation to resist the transference of authority before its designated time; the conflict arises not as to the inevitability of such change, but rather as to the appropriate context, procedural mechanisms instituted, and the care and sensitivity manifested.  And that is often the crux of the matter, is it not?

The brashness and lack of diplomacy and propriety; the insensitive nature of youth in trying to take over before paying one’s proper dues; and a sense that the young are owed something, without paying the necessary price through sweat and toil.  And the older generation?  From the perspective of the young, they are often seen as intractable, unable to face the reality of the inevitability of generational transfer; the ideas once seen as new and innovative are mere fodder for laughter and scorn.

Such treatment of those on their “way out” are often given similar application for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who show a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Such employees are viewed as those being “put out to pasture”, and as something less than human, partial in their worth, lacking of completeness, and needing to be shoved aside to make room for the healthy and fully productive.

Resentment often reigns; the insensitivity of the approach of agencies in their bureaucratic indifference is often what prevails; and once the exit is complete, those who were once the warriors and conquerors of yesteryear, are mere vestiges of forgotten remembrances of dissipating dew.

Always remember, however, that there is another perspective than the one which is left behind.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is put out to pasture by one’s agency, there is new ground to break, fresh challenges to embrace.  The pasture that one enters need not be the same one that the former agency considers; it is the one which the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement annuitant plows for himself, and whatever the thoughts and scornful mutterings of that agency left behind, they now have no control over the future of the Federal or Postal employee who has the freedom to follow the pasture of his or her limitless dreams.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Blank Canvas

For a painter, it is either the sight of uncontrollable delight, or a subtle sense of foreboding into depths of despondency; for the blank canvas represents two sides of a single coin:  an opportunity to do what one can, or the beginning of that which may be rejected by an unappreciative public eye.  But that is the inherent anomaly of every opportunity presented:  potential success, or possible failure.

That is why we carry around within us quips of self-appeasement, in order to lessen the weight of expected shortcomings:  “Nothing gained, nothing lost”; “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”; the list of 100 successful people who failed at first; and other proverbial self-motivators.  Within such realms of fear and loathing for the future, however, is the truth of living:  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Until one brushes the first dab of color upon a blank canvas, one will never experience the beauty of art, and while failure may never be the end product if one never begins, so success and the potential for human fulfillment can never be realized.  Unexpected circumstances in life often provide a basis for people to just “give up” in despair.

Medical conditions tend to be a foundational basis for such surrender to life’s inequities, and Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an unexpected medical condition, know better than most how unfair life can be.  Suddenly, the gush of accolades stops; the golden boy or girl of yesteryear is considered merely with a disdainful passing glance; and coworkers shun as if beset with a disease of contagion.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is tantamount to a fresh and blank canvas:  it is an opportunity of sorts, and should be approached with the same rashness and expectation of delight as when once youth feigned ignorance of future forebodings.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal worker to have a fresh beginning, a new start, in painting a picture filled with bright colors and scenes of unanticipated opportunities.  While it may pay a base annuity of 60% of the average of one’s highest 3 consecutive years of Federal Service for the first year, then 40% every year thereafter, it is that financial bridge for future endeavors which must be considered.

It is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition now prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job; but beyond the monetary benefits, it is also like the blank canvas which allows for a fresh start in a life often filled with gloom and despair, but where the plenitude of colors may yet be chosen with a steady hand for the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire