Federal Disability Retirement from the OPM: Expectations

What are they?  Is it something that we place upon ourselves, or merely the burden of what others have said?  Are there implied ones as opposed to direct and blunt ones?  Do they scar and damage throughout our lives, based upon the haunting sense of what we believe our parents demanded?  Are expectations the cumulative juncture caught between our own dreams, the demands of parents, and what we believe society considers success or failure?

Do we carry them about without an awareness of their influence, forgotten in the closets of our memories until psychoanalytical triggers suddenly bring them to the fore and where we suddenly blurt out, “Oh, yes, that is where it all comes from!”  And what happens when reality blunders upon expectations and the two conflict within the agony of our lives — do we (or more appropriately put, can we) abandon them and leave them behind in the ash heaps of discarded disappointments?

And when do we become “smart enough” to realize that the old vestiges of expectations need to be reevaluated and prioritized, and not allowed to remain as haunting voices that we no longer remember from whence they came, but remain as unwanted guests within the subconscious purview of our daily existence?

Expectations — we all have them; but of priorities in our lives, we rarely reorganize them in order to meet the present needs of our complex lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job and position, it may be time to re-prioritize those expectations that one has about one’s career, one’s future, one’s…life.

Expectations can be a positive force — of placing demands that spur one towards heights previously unimaginable; but that which is a positive force can turn upon itself and become a negative influence, especially when the check of reality fails to make one realize that priorities must be reassessed based upon the changing circumstances that life itself brings about.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of one’s deteriorating health may not be what one ever “expected” — but, then, all expectations have always been conditional in the sense that the demands made depended upon circumstances remaining the same.  When circumstances change, expectations must similarly adapt.

Preparing and submitting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may seem like a lowering of one’s expectations; yet, as it was always conditional upon the state of one’s health, a concomitant alteration of one’s expectations must meet the reality of one’s changed circumstances.

That is the reality of life’s lesson: Prioritize — health, family, career and the changing levels of expectations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Present Priorities

Present priorities differ from past ones, if only they have now passed as being present and thus are no longer priorities, as it is often the circumstances as presented in the “now” which matter most to us, as past priorities have lessened in terms of impact, significance, relevance and current importance.

The present priorities that were in existence a decade ago may no longer be the same priorities of the present of today; for, today’s present priorities have changed with the alterations of time, the focus of growth and maturity and their impact upon one another; and it is the context of today, the circumstances of the current period, that matter most to us.

Yesterday, the present priorities may have been the dinner or social function for that evening, or the open vacancy for this or that opportunity.  Then, a major “other” event occurs — perhaps the birth of a child or the death of a friend or relative — and suddenly, the priorities that seemed of such importance and consequence just yesterday, may seem trivial and insignificant today.

Medical conditions, too, seemingly have such an impact — of putting upon us a “reality check” that fades everything else into mere background noise.  What does it matter how one’s career is going, if you come home each night exhausted and unable to enjoy even the opening sonata of a symphonic masterpiece? Or if all of one’s weekend is merely to recover from the week’s fog of endless work, or of vacations and sick leave exhausted to endure constant and incessant testing and treatment regimens that leave no time for pleasure?

Whatever the present priorities and how they differ from past present priorities, one thing is clear: One’s health remains constant throughout, and preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, reveals that the present priorities of the most important priorities always endure, and that must always include one’s health and well-being, as the application for an OPM Medical Retirement is more evidence that the focus upon past priorities must be re-thought in order to accommodate the present priorities which are of greater importance and significance now that one’s health is at stake.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The content

It is ultimately the content that matters, especially in a technical, administrative procedure where tone and context become secondary.  After all, we are addressing a “medical” issue – a cold, clinical subject when it comes to filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

What should be included?  How far back?  What is meant by the “essential” or “core” elements of a job?  Does the capacity and ability to arrive at work for the duration of completing assignments in and of itself constitute an “essential” element of the job?  What if the job can be performed, but one simply cannot drive to the job?  Must I address failed efforts by the agency to “accommodate” me, and does the term “accommodation” have a narrower legal meaning than the way it is loosely used by my agency?

These and multiple other questions go to the heart – the content – of the issues presented when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Content is all important, and the audience to whom the Federal Disability Retirement application is intended is relevant to keep in mind.  If you are standing in line at a grocery store, or at a Post Office, and someone remarks to you, “You are obviously in pain.  Go ahead in front of me” – such kindness and consideration may prompt you to explain, in somewhat abbreviated form, the content of what your medical condition is.  However, if that same person who showed such consideration turned out to be a close family member, who either already knows about your condition or is otherwise intimately familiar with the circumstances and the history of your medical condition, your response may be somewhat different.

How much history of the medical condition needs to be related to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; what medical records need to be attached and accompany the narrative report that creates the “bridge” and “nexus” between the medical condition and the essential elements of the job duties – these all fall under the general aegis of “content”, and must be carefully considered in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

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