OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Factors to consider

The universe of thoughtful decision-making shrinks exponentially and in direct correlation with the pertinent and relevant information gathered, and it is too often the case that factors not considered are the very ones which lead to a non-decision or, more importantly, to a wrong conclusion.

What factors should be considered when a Federal or Postal employee is going to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Certainly, age can be a factor — for, if OPM engages in a recalculation of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity at age 62, and you are fast approaching that age, the factor of “how long it takes” to get an OPM Disability Retirement approved (about a year, give or take a few months on either side of the equation); whether you get any backpay once it is approved (back to the last day your Agency or the Postal Service has paid you anything); and whether the time you are on Federal Disability Retirement counts towards your total number of years accrued until the recalculation age at 62 (it does) — should all be factors to consider.

Further, even if you are still relatively young, should those same factors be considered?  The short answer is an unequivocal “yes” — and probably many others, besides, including: Do I intend on working at another job in the private sector while on Federal Disability Retirement?  Do I have Service-Connected disabilities that can play a factor [sic] in the factors to be considered?

The universe of factors to consider in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, are innumerable; and then, there are likely factors that you have not even considered, but which may be prompted by consulting with an attorney who has already considered multiple factors besides, and who may be able to guide you in this complex process called “OPM Disability Retirement”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Peripatetic Nature

But for a rarity, we seek its very opposite; consistency, stability, and the duration of longevity; these, we believe, provide for that which we didn’t have ourselves, yearn for, or seek to give to our own offspring.  In domestic legal proceedings, we hear tell of incongruent arguments where, in the midst of separation, the parties delineate what is in the “best interests of the children” — of remaining in the family home, maintaining a stability of regularity, etc.

From our limited micro-perspective, the loss of constancy when contrasted with the length of one’s own mortality from birth to death, is but a linear insignificance in comparison with the age of the universe.  Conceptually, we recognize this; and yet we constantly fight against it.  Our forefathers maintained a single job from youth to death; then, someone thought of the idea of “retirement”, and suddenly there were mandatory age requirements and proposals floating about concerning the “golden years”, all the while keeping pace with mass constructions of nursing homes and home healthcare services.

The incongruity and self-contradictions are palpable, but somehow we get away with it all.  Is man a seeker of stability, or does he possess a peripatetic nature?  Beyond such a question is the tendency to reject and resist being “forced out”.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the persistent harassment, the hostile work environment created, and the progressive insistence of pernicious pettiness invoked to make life unpleasant — these are all signs to acknowledge that one must “move on” with life.

It is difficult enough to deal with a medical condition; harder still to attend to it in conjunction with work-related pressures.

Stability of purpose is often what we thought we wanted; and for the peripatetic traveler, perhaps moving to another phase of life is an easy thing; but for the rest of us, change — even recognizing the necessity and inevitability, especially for the Federal or Postal employee who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — is something that is hard to accept, given the true nature of man, even if we all think of ourselves as Aristotelian philosophers.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Life’s Fathomless Diatribe

We tend to personify and project upon lifeless, inorganic and inert entities, not to mention the extrapolation of generalized and universal conceptual forms, and inject them with personalities, characteristics and living imprints.  Did Plato make this fatal mistake, or was he beyond our intellectual capacity, and perhaps like the mischievous character he provided in his dialogues, was he merely the siamese twin of Socrates and inextricably conjoined in body, mind and philosophical spirit, with that glint of the knowing jokester?

“Life”, as we like to make of the stuff which confounds us, is like the half-crazed homeless person who stands on the street corner and yells at us as we pass by.  Sometimes, we even get hit by a bombardment of spittle, and an unexpected whack on the head, leaving us stunned and helpless, faint with outrage and anxious that Mr. Life may follow us home.  And, indeed, he sometimes does.

Life is like that fathomless diatribe; and we are merely an audience of one, isolated, watchful, spectators who can only observe, sometimes shout back, and in a feeble attempt at altering destiny, weep in a heap of self-pity and trembling repose.  That is how the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker feels, in confronting the mammoth of the Federal Bureaucracy and the U.S. Postal Service, especially when the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker are enmeshed in the weakened state of fighting a 3-front battle:  One’s own Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; a medical condition that has begun to impact the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional requirements; and the battle against “life” and all of its multitudinous facets of complexities.

Is “life” just another metaphorical voice in the darkness of time?  For the Federal or Postal worker, the time to file 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, must often be determined by the harkening voice of life’s trials and travails.  As OPM is just another behemoth to confront, in addition to one’s own agency or the U.S. Postal Service, so the preparation to “do battle” must include the tools of engagement:  the facts, the law, and the will to proceed.  And like life’s fathomless diatribe, the will to win must first and foremost be the amour of protection in preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Setting up the Parameter of an Argument

What we argue depends upon identifying the criteria already established, which is why arguments will often become prolonged engagements of meandering shouting matches, thrown at cross purposes, never agreeing to disagree upon the elements which represent an actual conflict.

How many wars have been fought because of a simple failure in identifying the issues; how many costly divorces originating from misunderstanding and loss of communication, and who suffers but the collateral damage issued to non-combatants who must witness the devastation wrought more by ego than by elevated principles worth contesting?

The parameters themselves can be manipulated, such that we can “require” things unnecessary, and “mandate” prerequisites never called for.  That is how individuals can perform the proverbial act of “kicking the can” down the endless road, by talking about issues which rarely matter, but somehow confuse the mind without rational forethought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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, there are many ways to delay or cease the necessary starting points even before you begin, because of the many difficulties and roadblocks which must be faced — the least of which is certainly not the medical condition itself.

In the end, such mechanisms of procrastination can be understood in light of fear, angst and foreboding dread; the fear of the unknown, the angst of change, and the foreboding dread of losing one’s place in society, the work force, and the belonging to a community of Federal or Postal workers.  We can always dredge up a reason for not; it is in doing that our acts justify our unmatched words.

In the end, the parameters we set for ourselves are merely window dressings for delaying the inevitable, and so when next the excuse to not engage comes to mind, simply replace it with a more mundane reason, like when Meursault referred to the bright sun as the justification for his acts, as well as the prosecutor who denounced it because of his lack of empathy for his dead mother.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire