OPM Disability: The Chasm between Expectation and Reality

Expectation constitutes the anticipatory goal to be attained sometime in the near or far future; reality is the actualization of the potentiality of one’s imagination.  That anticipatory potentiality, however, can be formulated based upon numerous factors, including:  baseless imagination (more of a child-like quality); desire and hope (with perhaps some admixture of factual context and content, and somewhat of a more mature basis); or sequences of planned actions culminating in a realistic fulfillment based upon actual circumstances analyzed, deliberated upon and ascertained (a mature consequence of purposeful strategies formulated and initiated).

The chasm which exists between one’s expectation, and the reality of fruition, retrospectively reveals the state of maturity (or immaturity) of one’s soul.  That is why gamblers and lottery tickets abound; for, the play upon adolescent wants and desires portends of dreams unfulfilled, desires still unrestrained, and creative imaginations unbounded allowed to wander aimlessly.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who expected one’s own agency to embrace loyalty and constancy of support just because the Federal or Postal employee showed such honorable characteristics for many years previously, and perhaps for more decades than the half of one’s lifetime, the chasm of reality often hits hard.

Medical conditions can often be “accommodated“, if only in a loose, non-legal sense of the word.  But it is amazing how people and organizations suddenly become quite “legal” in matters where honor should prevail; and in that sense, to be “accommodated” takes on a new and restrictive meaning.  Medical conditions often bring out the worst in people and organizations, and concepts involving the humanity of one’s soul no longer become relevant, but mere irritants to be legally sequestered in order to protect and deny.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, 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 often the last bastion of hope — hope which bridges the chasm between expectation and reality, and one which sets the path for future security upon the solid foundation of a reality which one may want to shy from, but which one cannot escape in this world of love, hate, humanity and cruelty — the compendium of that complex animal called Man.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Oh, but That Youthful Sense of Invincibility

In the beginning, that sense of potentiality was seemingly endless; while the actual constraints, whether based upon one’s own educational or intellectual limitations, or perhaps that proverbial glass ceiling of nepotism, favoritism, or exclusivity of previously-formed bonds and relationships; but ignorance can indeed be blissful, and youthful vigor and enthusiasm makes up for that lack of reality-based experience which transforms us all into crusty old men of cynical negations floating in a universe of perverse ill-will.

The world was full of hope and opportunity, and nothing could stop that bundle of positive energy, naive anticipation, and future-oriented and exhaustive optimism. Even health was of no concern.  Disabilities?  Nary a thought.  Inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?  Not to be considered, for youthful vigor and unbounded energy could not contain the late hours and extra, unpaid dedication reflecting loyalty and meticulousness of purpose.

But at some point the reality of the human condition prevails upon us all, and the limitations of the human body, the frailty of one’s psyche after years of abuse, deliberate attacks and unfettered stresses — they take their toll. Time marches unperturbed, but the response of the human body, mind and soul is one of deterioration and decay.

Did that youth consider what benefits were part of the compensation package? Not initially. But later, Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, can become an important discovery for those who are beset with a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

It applies to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, and is ultimately decided upon by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  While such considerations may not have been thought of in one’s youth, such naive indiscretions are fortunately forgivable, and despite such thoughtlessness, the availability remains for all Federal and Postal employees to consider the option of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Often, the Option Was Always Open

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question on Standard Form 3112A which asks for the “approximate date” of when a Federal or Postal employee became disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job can sometimes be rather tricky.

For, quite often, it is not the medical condition itself which drives a Federal or Postal employee to file for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity; rather, it may be external circumstances entirely foreign to the medical condition itself (i.e., actions of the Supervisor, the Agency; changes in work schedules; reinstating other assignments and positional requirements, etc.).

In many cases, the fact is that the Federal or Postal worker may have been eligible to apply for, and successfully obtain, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity for several years — it is just that he or she never exercised the option or right to do so, because the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service allowed for light duty, temporary duty assignments, modified duties, etc. — in other words, a loose network of ad hoc duties aggregately termed as an “accommodation”, but clearly not what would constitute a legally-sufficient accommodation under the law and under the Bracey definition.  But the option to exercise the eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application may have been there for many years, and so the question on SF 3112A may actually require a response indicating many years and months prior to the completion and dating of the form itself.

The fact that a medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job is the qualifying factor in a Federal Disability Retirement application; when to exercise the option to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is a separate issue; and as to the latter, the compelling force may well be issues external to a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire