Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Dismal

At the outset, you realize that something is wrong with the caption.  Not being a noun, the space following demands the question, “The dismal what?”  Adjectives require it; we all learned about them in grade school (if that is even taught, anymore) about grammar, and how they “modify” the noun.  It cannot stand alone.  It is a peculiar adjective, isn’t it?  It is one that cannot modify a noun except in a negative way.

Others can be modifiers but can themselves become altered by the mere fact of relational influence.  For example, one may refer to the “beautiful ugliness” of a landscape, and understand by it that the contrast between the two modifies one another.  But with the adjective “dismal’, it seems never to work. Whatever noun it stands beside; whatever word that it is meant to modify; in whichever grammatical form or content — it stands alone is a haunting sense of the dismal — of down, depressed and disturbed.

It is like the medical condition that attaches and refuses to separate; of an embrace that will not let go, a hug that cannot be unraveled; and a sense that cannot be shaken.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the adjective of “dismal” often precedes the realization that one’s career must be modified in order to attend to one’s medical condition.  Work takes up a tremendous amount of one’s time, energy and strength of daily endurance, and obtaining a FERS Disability Retirement annuity is often required just so that one’s focus can be redirected in order to attend to one’s health.

The process of preparing, formulating and filing, then waiting upon, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a daunting one, and you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest the dismal turn into a morass of a bureaucratic nightmare which fails to modify the noun that all applicants yearn for: The approval.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: “Oh, can I help?”

It is the grammatical interjection or discourse marker; in either usage, it is in response to some new or surprising information received.  Thus do we often encounter that individual (we all know of at least one) who, sitting silently, idly and unnoticed throughout, suddenly perks up after all (or most) of the work has been done – whether in preparation of a meal; cleaning up after the dinner party; or where the main elements of a project have just been completed.  And the uninvited interjection:  “Oh, can I help?”

There may even be a hint of clever knowingness in the eyes emanating from that query – of a challenge and defiance, to dare one to question the sincerity of the offer, even when the history of that singular uniqueness has many times over manifested a consistency of never having acted upon the discourse marker.

Yet, we are required to graciously accept it as sincere, and to respond with resignation that, No, there is nothing more to do, but Thank You for the offer, anyway.  For, we all know that the test of sincerity is not words upon words, but rather, that individual who, without uttering a single word, gets up and acts, and engages, participates, contributes and embraces with nary a muttering.  It is the pause between the utterance and the action that makes all of the difference, in common discourse as well as in everyday lives.

There are many, many people who interject with the “Oh, can I help?” but fewer still who act without words unnecessary and unappreciated because of humility in silence.

It is that chasm between word and act, utterance and initiation, a cocoon existence in the silence of one’s thoughts and the breach of entrance into the objective world around – or, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:  the gap between the suffering silence of a medical condition and taking that step in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, which can be an administrative process that can take many months, and sometimes years.

It is well and good for the individual who consistently utilizes the discourse marker to avoid entanglement in undesirable projects, but when it begins to harm one’s own interests, then it is time to not merely utter a sentence, but to prevail upon the world and act upon the need.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who, because of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, can no longer continue in the career or vocation of choice, the grammatical interjection of, “Oh, can I help?” should immediately be followed with initiating the steps necessary to secure one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, by making inquiries with a lawyer who has experience in Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: The helpful other perspective

Before going “whole-hog” with anything in life, the greater wisdom often confirms that we should try and obtain a differing perspective on the matter, if only to affirm the correctness of our own, or to consider the fissures and weaknesses we are blind to.  Wise people seek wisdom; fools travel down roads not merely untested, but even unprepared.  Such a tautology is a mere self-evident fact of life, but we nevertheless follow blindly where the blind leads.

If an individual discounts the criticisms of everyone else, then the wisdom one holds is merely the price of one’s own mistakes, and so long as others are not required to pay for them, the pathway to disaster can be easily paved without involving the toil and anguish of others.

One may query:  assuming it is wise to seek the input of another, how does one nevertheless know that such a differing viewpoint is “helpful” at all?  What if that other perspective is even worse of a disaster than my own?  Such a question, of course, is likely asked in a vacuum; for, there are varying indicators that one may discern in seeking advice from others –  reputation; demeanor; knowledge previously revealed; capacity to listen; established specialty in a particular field, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset –  the need to seek the helpful “other” perspective is often a necessary prerequisite.

Why?

Because, when a medical condition is impacting one’s health – whether singularly physical, or mental or a combination of both – the debilitated state that one experiences often provides a skewered perspective, and that is why garnering and employing the advice of an attorney who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement Law is often a necessary component of the process.

Yes, there may well be those rare “slam-dunk” cases, whether gathering and submitting the medical records alone will obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But, then, everyone who files a Federal Disability Retirement application believes his or her submission to be just that –  undeniable, unequivocally established, and unassailably confirmed.

Why is that?

Because the person who experiences the medical condition is the same person who is preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application – and he or she who feels the pain, presupposes that everyone else must also be able to comprehend such a state of decline.  Unfortunately, this is not the case – at least, not from the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is also another one of those “other” perspectives that must be contended with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirements: Focus away from ‘self’

The heightened problems emanating from a chronic medical condition cannot be quantified; as the medical issues themselves become exacerbated while attempting to work and engage in other “major life activities”, the pain, psychiatric debilitation and interruption of things once taken for granted, become all the more magnified and exponentially exaggerated in significance, relevance and focus of daily contention.  Or, to put it in more common parlance, it makes us grouchier as the day goes.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered for all FERS employees (and any in the older CSRS system who may still be around – a rarity, like dinosaurs and gnomes of past ages), and is meant as a progressive paradigm of inestimable worth.  Unlike other systems of compensation, it encourages the (former) Federal or Postal employee to seek employment in the private sector, because the generous allowance that the former Federal or Postal employee can make up to 80% of what one’s former salary currently pays, on top of the annuity itself, allows for “the system” to be a self-paying entity, because such individuals then pay taxes and contribute “back into” the very system which is being accessed.

The fact that it is such a thoughtful, progressive system is rare – for, government bureaucracies tend not to embrace an insightful program of wider application, but this is a case in point where the system “works”.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee who continues to try and extend one’s career in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service by “hoping” – and, do not misunderstand, for hope as an element of human focus for events yet to occur, is a good thing – that the medical condition will get better, and thus to delay initiating the complex process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, does so at the peril of self-focusing immolation.

The point of getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits is just that – to be able to attend to the medical condition itself; to attain restorative sleep; to not be embroiled in the vicious cycle of having to work at a job where one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties cannot be met because of the medical condition itself, and therefore a stark reminder, on a daily and sustained basis, upon one’s self, the limiting aspects of the medical condition, and the inability to escape the constant gravitational dissection of “me, myself and I”.  That’s the rub, isn’t it?

As you try and get better, those around you – supervisors, coworkers, etc. – begin to harass, criticize and compound the problem by redirecting your shortcomings resulting from the very medical conditions from which you are trying to get better.  Federal Disability Retirement is the next step in that process – where, once attained, the stress of focusing upon one’s self is relieved by being able to actually focus upon what is important:  one’s health, and the pathway to a secure future through getting approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire