Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Adapting to Change

Survival of the species depends upon it; the paradigm of evolutionary theory mandates it; and the human propagation for advancement thrives through it.

Change is difficult.  It was once believed that the malleability of youth allowed for greater resistance to a damaged psyche; yet, from the plethora of late-night confessions, it has become clear that divorce and family divisions left residual scars upon children no matter how “friendly” the split-up was, no matter how much love, co-parenting support and so-called theories of “if I’m happy, you’re happy” blather was pasted thick upon the self-justifying reasons given; in the end, the trauma of change, upheaval, disruption and interruption have their lasting effects upon the shaken foundations wrought by the earthquakes of human existence.

Change; how we respond to it; what adaptive measures are taken; where the vulnerabilities appear; and the manner, timing and susceptibility to reverberations of lasting consequences — they all take their toll, don’t they?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, change is inevitable, and adapting to change — a necessity.

But, then, adapting to change has already been a reality, if one pauses and thinks about it — to the change in one’s health through the chronic and debilitating medical condition; the need to have adapted to the growing sense of urgency as the medical condition has worsened over time; these, and many more changes have already forced the Federal and Postal employee contemplating further changes to adapt at each step of the way.  But that “final step” — of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — is an important one, and to make the best of the changes that are inevitable, it is a prudent idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Higher and lesser standards

Does anyone ever go into something, engage an activity, begin a project or initiate a hobby thinking that a “lesser standard” would be acceptable?  Or, is the “higher standard” always the option preferred? — and if we fall somewhat short of the goal intended, isn’t it better to strive towards that height of vaunted “unreachable-ness” like the lesser angels who try and climb up the ladder to heaven but fall short because of the misgivings of sins committed or blemishes of imperfections left unchanged?

One can always argue, of course, that all standards are somewhat “arbitrary”, and perhaps they are to the extent that we can always “do better”, and the self-satisfaction of reaching the pinnacle of any standard set is merely to realize that there can always be another step to take, a further goalpost to conquer, and a next and higher challenge to face.  To begin with a lesser standard is to foretell defeat before a journey is begun; whereas, to demand an unreachable standard is to despair of an idealism that cannot be fathomed.  What, then, is the “proper” standard to set?

To set it too low is to achieve mere mediocrity; to preface a too-high-a-standard is to defeat one’s advocacy before efficacy can be tested.

We, none of us, want to begin a journey with a defeatist mentality, and it is the setting of a standard — however low or high — that often determines the success or failure of any endeavor.  It is only when we “know” that a self-set standard will never be reached, cannot be attained and will never be near to the heart of our wishes and desires, that then we realize the utter futility of our own efforts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have set a high standard in their careers and employment goals, it is a difficult road to take, both mentally and/or physically, to realize and come to the conclusion that one’s professional standards can no longer be met because of a medical condition that impedes, precludes and prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

No one ever sets out to reduce the standards of a life’s goal, but when outside forces such as a medical condition impact upon the standards set, the choice is to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Federal and Postal employees have always set high standards for their work ethic. Sometimes, however, it is not the higher standard that defeats, but the lesser standards of reality — such as a medical condition that comes about unexpectedly in life — that forces the necessary adjustments that remind us of our own mortality, imperfections and the gap between the higher standards we set and the truth of our own misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from OPM: All problems suspended

We all seek those moments, don’t we?  A period of respite, that time of suspended ecstasy where all of life’s problems are suspended, if only for a temporary span in order to regain our equilibrium, retake the focus lost and remake the moments wasted.  Isn’t that why people become obsessed with silly arguments on the Internet, in Facebook confrontations and twitter feeds, because it provides for a temporary assertion of power, the sense of winning, of defeating and devastating another, if only for a brief moment in this timeless continuum of problems to be encountered, embraced and finally solved?

In a perfect universe, all problems suspended would be tantamount to a conceived heaven where one need not worry about the daily problems of living a life – the human condition – that confronts everyone all the world over.

All problems suspended – every financial difficulty, relational complexities, consequences intended or otherwise resulting from neglect, negligence or simply thoughtless actions; for all and every one of them to be relegated to a heavenly sequestration like purgatory without judgment.  But that life could be discovered within such a state of joyous reprieve; we would all be dancing and praying to the gods that gave us such a present.

In reality, that is what going to the movies for a couple of hours of distraction, playing a video game, going out with friends, or spending a weekend reading and taking the dogs out for a long walk – these are activities engaged in where all problems become suspended, if only for a brief stint of relief from the daily struggles we all have to confront and “deal” with.

Unfortunately, there is one problem that can almost never be suspended – a medical condition.  The medical condition pervades and remains no matter how hard we try; and though we may be successful in “forgetting” for a brief moment, the problem is never suspended, only delayed in “remembering”.  For people who are in chronic pain, one cannot even forget for a brief moment.  Instead, whether actively in thought or lulled through a sleepless night, the medical condition is always there, never suspended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition presents an even greater set of problems – of not being able to be accommodated and beginning to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job duties – it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Delaying does not suspend the problem, but may only add to it; neglecting will not solve the problem, and may only magnify it; and while temporarily “forgetting” by engaging in another activity may distract from it, the brief nature of such thoughtlessness will only roar back with a greater sense of urgency, especially when dealing with the bureaucratic morass of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is the agency that makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Things not likely to happen

It is not likely that tomorrow morning you will wake up and find that aliens have taken over the earth (although, if one were to read various supermarket tabloids, that has already occurred many times over, both while asleep and awake); it is not likely that you will win the lottery with that last dollar spent on running a random set of numbers (though millions each day shell out astronomical sums in the aggregate with dreams – and sometimes actual plans reflected upon – of what one will do “when” the improbable event will happen); and it is not likely that the email received the other day from some banker in Burkina Faso who wants a “trusted friend” to allow for a transfer of a cool $100 million and would allow you to keep half of it just because you happen to be the only person in the universe who has a bank account and can keep a secret, will actually honor such a request.

Nevertheless, people actually consider such fantasies, and to the detriment of those who do so with serious intent, harm themselves either by delaying what could be done, setting aside the reality of what needs to be accomplished, and turning over valuable time to endeavors not likely to happen.

Often, and unfortunately, medical conditions have that same characteristic – of things not likely to happen.  It begins by happening – of a medical condition that should not have been, or is seen to be “unfairly” targeting a particular individual, and a period of disbelief ensues where the question is, “Why me?  Why not the other guy, instead?”  Then, once the phase of acceptance comes about, one begins to adapt, compromise the levels of acceptability and quality of life, and modification of expectations surely follows soon thereafter.  Then, one hopes, prays, angrily shouts to the heavens or otherwise with quiet resignation begins to ruminate – yes, the medical condition may be unfair, but so is the lot of life we all live.

And the principle of things not likely to happen applies to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the things not likely to happen includes: The medical condition will just go away; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will just let things slide and be very understanding; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service will actually accommodate your medical condition; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will find you another job at the same pay or grade; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will grant SL, AL or LWOP in unlimited amounts so that you can attend to your illness or medical condition; and the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service will show empathy, sympathy and understanding and make you feel “welcomed” while you endure one of the most difficult periods of your life.  Not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: A Return to Basics

Every few decades, there is a “new” movement which upholds the divinity of returning to the foundational core of one’s existence:  of going back to being a farmer; living a life of an ascetic; stripping away all “unnecessary” accretions and accoutrements deemed as vestries of comfort and “bourgeois” by definition (whatever that means); or, in common parlance and language more amenable to the ordinary person, living more “simply”.

The perspective that such a “movement” is somehow “new” is of itself rather an anomaly; but then, each generation believes that they have discovered and invented the proverbial wheel, and all such past epochs were mere ages of primitive imbecility.   And, perhaps, we are once more in that familiar circle of life, and such a movement has beset the quietude of modernity, again.  As such, let us return to the basics:

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee may need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the “foundational” eligibility criteria needs to be met:  For those under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System — or the “new” system sometime around 1986 and thereafter), the Federal or Postal employee must have a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service in order to apply.  For those under CSRS, the accrual time is 5 years — and, as such, anyone under CSRS would presumably have met that basic requirement, although a CSRS employee with a long “break in service” could potentially fall short, but that would involve a unique set of circumstances rarely seen.

Further, the Federal or Postal employee who sets about to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must either be (A) a current employee (in which case he or she would file first through the agency’s Human Resource Office, then to be forwarded to OPM, (B) if not a current employee, then separated from service not more than 1 year (as the Statute of Limitations in filing for Federal Disability Retirement requires that a former Federal or Postal employee file directly with OPM within 1 year of being separated from service), (C) if separated from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, but not for more than 31 days, then to file with one’s former Agency, and (D) if separated for more than 31 days, but less than 1 year, then refer to (B) and file directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pennsylvania.

These are some of the “basics” in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  There is much, much more to the entire process, but then again, if one were to expand too far astray from the foundational core of the “back to basics” movement, one would be a hypocrite for allowing the complications of life to accrue beyond the essential elements of life — of water, food and shelter or, for the Federal and Postal employee filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the bridge between one’s position and the medical conditions one suffers from.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Goldilocks Principle

Most of us are familiar with the fairytale; but in modernity, the principle extrapolated has been extended thus: the natural pendulum of occurrences must fall within a certain set of margins, as opposed to reaching the outer limits of extremes.  And, indeed, most things settle into a comfortable compromise of corollary constancy; it is precisely because of the anomaly of extremes that we take special note of the exceptions which develop and manifest.  And that is always the continuing hope of most individuals — for a reaching of compromise, and static settling into a middle ground, etc.

But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition begins to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the Goldilocks Principle will often fail to apply.  Increasing pressure is brought to bear (no pun intended) upon the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who shows signs of vulnerability; perhaps an initial verbal warning, then a written admonishment; then, the placement of a PIP within the constant environment of hostility; restrictions upon leave usage, and finally, a proposal to remove.

Medical conditions require priority of purpose and attending to the medical condition itself.  Actions by agencies and the U.S. Postal Service often serve to exacerbate the medical condition.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option which should be considered earlier, than later.

In the end, of course, the Goldilocks Principle is somewhat relatively determined by where those margins or goalposts are placed; for, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the realization that the middle ground of comfort is far from the fences of the extreme, depends upon where the Federal or Postal employee is standing, in relation to the medical condition, the harassment received, and the empathy shown (or more precisely stated, the lack thereof) by the agency and the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire