Disability Retirement under FERS: Adopting an Adaptive Plan

Most of us barely have one; and when we do, we quickly forget about it and move on, satisfied that —by the mere declaration of having one — we need not implement it or follow it rigorously beyond the mere possession of it.

The old Soviet Union (do we remember what the abbreviation, “U.S.S.R.” stood for?) had 5 and 10 year plans, and when the stated goals were not met, they simply cooked the books and declared that they were well ahead of the declared plans, and so the satellite nations under the rubric of the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” nodded its approval and genuflected to the Soviet Central Planning Committee (for, you couldn’t have a plan unless there were multiple committees to make those plans) and were grateful for the plans even though their populace were starving, despite the declared success of all of that planning.

Battlefield officers rely upon them; although, in recent years, because war is no longer fought by armies planning an attack upon other armies, the need for adopting an adaptive plan has become a survival necessity.  Life itself rarely follows a plan; most of the time, one’s day is consumed by just trying to survive.

When a medical condition hits us, of course, then all of the planning in the world — from a retrospective and myopic viewpoint — didn’t amount to much.  What is the plan, then, for a Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform his or her job because of the medical conditions that prevent one from doing so?

The Federal Disability Retirement “plan” is to allow for a Federal or Postal employee to file for OPM Medical Retirement benefits under FERS, so that the Federal employee can medically retire, focus upon one’s health and still, hopefully, enter the workforce in the near or mid-future and continue to contribute, all the while receiving a disability retirement annuity.  Now, that sounds like adopting an adaptive plan where interruption of a life plan allows for some grace beyond lack of planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Confessions & public domains

Why is it that confessions and public domains represent a relief of sorts, an expiation of self-contained guilt and a sense of “righting” a wrong?  In Catholicism, confession holds a prominent place in the liturgy of that which constitutes a faithful observant; in crime novels, the taunting serial criminal is said to subconsciously “want” to confess to the crime, and leave multiple fingerprints at the scene of each devastating incident in an effort to provide a trail of enough clues to ultimately lead to his or her arrest, thus in effect “confessing” to each of the acts of psychologically diabolical intrigues; and for the ordinary person, there is added stress to the body when one refuses to confess to the public domains of one’s life, those “inner” thoughts that are somehow anathema to the acceptance of behavior in the “outer” universe of public discourse.

That conflict between one’s “true” identity as encompassed by the insular universe of one’s private thoughts and the appearance of one’s character in the public domain — what some would call the hypocritical tug-and-pull of reality-versus-appearance, or of what others would admit is comprised by the true essence of man as opposed to the public face that hides the inner soul.

Whatever the origin, truth or appearance of the matter, what we often discover is that there is, indeed, a certain sense of relief in making a confession within the public domain — whether that is satisfied by talking confidentially to a close friend (which is somewhat of an anomaly in and of itself — of merely confiding with another and creating a conspiracy of two instead of one), making a public pronouncement; “confessing” to one’s spouse; going to a group therapy session and admitting to things in front of that collection of individuals; and other similar acts that somehow expiate the inner turmoil of one’s soul.

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 Federal or Postal job, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and actually filing it with the Agency or the Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat akin to making a “confession” in the public domain.

Part of the greater stresses of continuing on in this mode of secrecy — of trying to “mask” the medical condition from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal facility for fear of retaliation or harassment — is actually relieved by the “confession” of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and it is in the “public domain” of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or better known by its acronym, OPM, that one finally begins the long and arduous trek of regaining one’s health, by tapping into that traditional method of confessions & the public domains of life’s priestly expiation of the inner sanctum of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The intransigent excuse

Much of life is spent in retrospectively justifying actions; the remainder of the time, of making excuses where we can, and when we need to (which is often).  The great thing about excuses is that the reserve of them can never be depleted; like the never-exhaustive stars in the universe, we can always discover, make up, or otherwise concoct another.  Thus, to counter that a person has “run out of excuses” is to defy reality; we can always, if the need requires, go back to one that we long ago abandoned, and stick to it.

It is that intransigent excuse that tends to defy – the one that, though unreasonable by most accounts, nevertheless provides a shield of protection for the one who clings to it.  For, the one who tightly embraces an intransigent excuse never, of course, considers it as such; it is, instead, the fault that rests upon the rest of the world in a conspiracy of illogical motives that attempts to change course and offer alternatives as to facts, opinions or best avenues for future courses of action.

As to the one clinging to such excuses, it is never characterized as such.  No, instead it is an explanation in light of reasonable circumstances; a logical conclusion based upon facts as interpreted; and, even if the rest of the universe fails to comprehend the logic of the stated foundation, the intransigent excuse is the last bastion of the proverbial wall that may force us to do, acknowledge and admit to that which we vehemently resist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary concern is to get beyond an intransigent excuse.  While there are very few circumstances in which filing for Federal Disability Retirement is “too late” (other than the obvious one, of course, of complying with the Statue of Limitations of filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key is to file before it becomes an emergency.

As OPM has a large backlog of cases and they are taking longer and longer to review, evaluate and make decisions on a case – leaving aside the problem of even first having them to assign a case to a reviewer/ administrative specialist – there must needs be some forward planning and foresight of future-oriented perspectives, and it is often the intransigent excuse which defies, builds a wall against, and creates seemingly insurmountable obstacles in moving forward.

Life is full of obstacles, and the ones we build ourselves are often the most difficult to overcome.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a big decision to make; thought, preparation and formulation of a plan is often necessary.  Just do not allow for the intransigent excuse to be the wall that prevents the reasonable approach to prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Wisdom’s hold on life

We never quite “get it”.  Trans-generational imputing of wisdom is not part of modern society.  In more “traditional” societies, multi-generational families live together out of practical reasons:  Not only is it less expensive if the earnings are pooled into a single resource of means, but until marriage or an offer of economic leverage pulls a member away from the core, imparting of wisdom, experience and voices of learned care may be passed down from generation to generation.  In the West, instead, the rush is to depart and fracture; to get away as quickly as possible; for, as youth is the cult of modernity, so folly of youth is the means by which we live.

That was the point of alternative interactions, as well – of apprenticeships, internships and other similar ships moored to more experienced hands; but even those are now relics of an age no longer relevant.  And of age – old men with decades of experience in handling matters of great complexity, shuttled away into homes smelling of antiseptic camouflaging of decay and devoid of respect or gratitude; women who once gained a stature of serene contentment, now deluged in a cauldron of impoverishment and relegated to the insignificance of lost memories.  Where is wisdom’s hold upon life?

There is, in the end, no means for generational transfer of wisdom, and the wheel must be reinvented at every turn, by an ignorant and inexperienced first generation where “first” is always reenacted and “generation” is merely something to submit to have a family tree drawn in order to boast of one’s genetic predisposition towards folly and foolishness.  Yet, we have come to believe that wisdom can be equated to information, and so we hand out Smartphones so that we can mindlessly look up data, soft news and questionable sources where references cannot be verified, plagiarism may be rampant, and esoteric knowledge has been forever generalized to a point of neutrality of purpose.

Where do we get wisdom?  From advice columns, gurus of booksellers hinting of “secret” formulas and self-serving wanna-bees of Dear Abby.  Once, wisdom’s hold on life resulted in an evolution of greater growth, as generational transfer allowed for each within the greater whole to advance beyond the elementary foundations of first principles.  Now, we are solitary, isolated and disconnected.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, wisdom’s latent hold on life should not make one pause, but rather, as the dissemination of knowledge, information and guidance can be accessed through an experienced lawyer who has faced OPM many times, life need not be anticipated, but advanced beyond the folly of youth where wisdom’s hold on life is but a moment devoid of influence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS/CSRS: Perfect lives

Where are they?  Beyond Platonic Forms and heavenly orbs where the golden dust sparingly sprinkled from the wings of angels in flight, do perfect lives exist and, if so, where?  We can suspend disbelief and fantasize of celebrities and the lives of Wall Street wolves with their mansions, beautiful bodies and facial grimaces so tightened by plastic surgery as to make smiling an exertion of monumental phenomena; but, in the end, we all realize that the pinnacle of human achievement is but another endeavor of human fallacy, and never approaching the omniscience of an Aristotelian Unmoved Mover.

If we posit that perfect lives do not exist, then does that vanquish the argument for perfection even of relevance in conceptual or hypothetical argumentation?  If that, then why strive for betterment at all, if there is no standard to which one should attempt to reach?  If everything is merely relative, how can we compare a relativity devoid of standards upon a non-existent spectrum between good, better and best?

Perfection, of course, for the obsessed, can be paralyzing, precisely because a further amendment, another change, an additional revision, can always arguably make it “more perfect” than not, and therefore one can be left swimming amidst the toxicity of a never-ending eternity of perfecting the imperfections that can never achieve perfection.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing an imperfect Federal OPM Disability Retirement application, to be submitted first through one’s agency and the Human Resource Office (if still with the agency or, even if separated, not for more than 31 days), then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, be wary of becoming immobilized because you are unable to reach a standard of perfection that will “guarantee” a First Stage Success.

Life never allows for guarantees, leaving aside perfection in an imperfect world.  Administrative and bureaucratic procedures mirror life itself:  OPM’s imperfect methodology of human engagement in determining the validity of a Federal Disability Retirement application is simply another component within life’s vast array of imperfection.

The key in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is not whether the Federal Disability Retirement packet is “perfectly” compiled, but the more relevant question:  Is it an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, with the components included of a persuasive narrative, a strong legal argument, and a methodology which includes a roadmap for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to approve the Federal Disability Retirement application?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire