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

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Of good humor

Can it last, and for how long?  Are there such people in this world, who wander about and retain a sense of good humor no matter what egregious worldly circumstances devastate and make destitute the trying soul?

Or, like that chime that attracts little children to run with abandon into the streets upon hearing the approach of the good humor truck – you know, the company that was sued for creating an attractive nuisance, because children respond like cats and dogs to sounds associated with tasty ice cream (come to think of it, not just children, but all of us as well) – are there people as well who are like the memories of lazy summer days just waiting with that nickel to spend upon to soothe the saliva that drips with the heat of bygone days?

Of good humor – is it merely a human trait, or do dogs, cats and even undomesticated animals possess it, as well?  Have you ever met an individual of whom we say, “Oh, he is the guy possessed with an unalterable and unique advantage in life – of good humor”?  There is something attractive, is there not – to be able to smile despite tragedy, to find the satirical side to every turn of a trial, and even to consider a chuckle in the midst of a painful encounter?  The person who can smile throughout the tides of life is one who can withstand the tsunamis of unbearable pain and tragedy.

Certainly, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with the lengthy bureaucratic trials in waiting upon a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, possessing a sprinkling of good humor is somewhat of a “must” in order to endure the administrative procedures involved.

For, the choice is somewhat clear – of being the good humor truck that brings satisfaction to mouth-watering children running for relief from the heat of summer, or being that child who gets run over by the good humor truck.  In the end, the goal of getting an OPM Disability Retirement annuity is not for the purposes of good humor, but to be able to ring the chimes of life in order to step into a brighter future and a better tomorrow, no matter what flavors of ice cream may be hidden behind the panels of the good humor truck.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Cavalier extinctions

We focus much on lost species, forever erased at a rate of untold apocryphal dimensions, as if the deletion of undiscovered DNA material might never be recovered, and thus for once, we worry about things which we have never known ascribed as that which “could” have saved us from our own extinguishment, all the while ignoring the plight of human detritus all around us.  We do that with fading civilizations, too, don’t we?

We argue for egalitarianism, impartiality, and for all things being of equivalency in value and worth; but, somehow, the “primitives” remind us of that romanticized notion which touched our nerves, even as Rousseau created a fictional “State of Nature” in which we lived in complete harmony (but for those few who, through brutish force and uncivilized conduct, forced us into an unwilling social contract in order to aggregate our weaknesses against a Hobbsian Leviathan for self-preservation and protective numerical advantage) and to which we pay homage in childhood fantasies.  And so we strive to pursue our own environmental agendas, as if we can police the universe against the insanity of our own making; all the while, we engage in cavalier extinctions, ourselves, though we may name it by another identity.

We form and drop relationships; we friend, defriend, add and delete with a push of a button; we even divorce and break up so-called lifetime commitments, with the cavalier explanation that it is “better” to live in harmonious consonance than to subject the innocent to daily ravages of our own termpermantal tumults.  An electronic screen, whether on a tabletop, laptop or a smartphone, can easily bring the bright glare of activity as the blank blackness of nothingness.

That is why extinguishment of purported “friends” can occur just as easily as engaging artifices of friendships; the button itself determines the substance and depth of any such relationship.  It was hard enough actually know and tolerating people; it is easier still, to know them on the tablet of a screen, and not have to contend with irritants of behavioral eccentricities.

On the spectrum of human growth, we are stunting ourselves by relegating the mechanism and tools for human conduct to mere words and responsive utterances on lighted screens.  The tools which we provide to the innocents, to develop those traits for successful human interaction, are diminished by the limited resources available via distance interaction.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and who by necessity must consider preparing, formulating and 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, the notion that there is a negation of estimable empathy, sympathy, and just simple human caring, becomes a glaring reality too quickly, too forcefully, and with a dosage of untold reality.

Will it only get worse?  Probably.  As the new crop of managers and supervisors who have little contact with actual relationships, but whose voided perspective has been formed by online services of gratuitous and dubious authenticity, the level of understanding and mechanisms for human compassion become exponentially diminished.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for a Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is not a mere choice of optional engagement; it is spurred by necessity and human tragedy.  But beware, as this brave new world of cavalier extinctions will bring forth the worst in the unclaimed losses of genetic materials, where the Darwinian principles seem to finally win out in a battle of fierce and unwitting conflicts for the survival of the fittest — or meanest.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Intestinal Fortitude

It is a word past its prime; one which was prevalent and pervasive in use during this author’s childhood, and represented a more refined way of saying, “guts” or “courage”.  It is one which brought forth a seeming awe and sense of credibility to the person who uttered the words, and once stated, it spread like wildfire amongst the pseudo-intellectuals and wanna-be William-F-Buckley-Jrs of the world.

Of course, no one could effortlessly drop a line of Latin like he could, and just as the death of an icon can fade the philosophical context of a given epoch, so words can lose their efficacy from generational transfer to the next; yet, the substance and essence of the meaning of the word remains like the vestige of wisdom displayed in a singular utterance from the toothless mouth of one’s grandfather, where the wide-eyed child looked from a vantage point well below, peering upwards with awe and disconsolate foreboding against the shadows of a crackling fireplace exuding warmth and tenderness amidst the melodious voice of loving care.  Use of words can be distinguished from the power of persuasion such usage can engender.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to consider the next step in preparing, formulating and 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 often three (3) primary issues to be kept in mind.

First, there is a vast difference with a real distinction, between having a medical condition, and proving that one’s medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.  The former concerns medical care and a doctor’s expertise, exclusively; the latter remains the territory of the attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law.

Second, the affirmative step in making progress towards filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM must be of the Federal or Postal employee’s own choosing.  No amount of persuasion, harassment or good old-fashioned pestering can move the mountain, and it often takes a crisis of realization until such an important decision is finally made.

And, third, whether of guts, courage, forward-thinking or intestinal fortitude, that step to be taken can be a life-altering advancement into an unknown future; but in the end, when a medical condition arises, the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM becomes a positive affirmation that the future for the Federal or Postal employee can be secured through an annuity which represents something beyond mere wasted effort for all of those years of service to the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and whether by intestinal fortitude or something else, such dedication to service is a mark of honor well-deserved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: McKenna’s Pass

It was an old mining town, once boasting of a bustling main street, filled with commotion, commerce and conversation, where expectations of future success and advancement were brimming with hope and activity.  People said that it would always be the bellwether of the country; as McKenna’s Pass went, so goes the nation.

The origin of its name was somewhat in dispute.  Old Timers who harkened of past days of glory tried to inject their hoarse voices over the din of youth to get their two cents in, that the origination of the town’s name came from when the days of ore traders would pass through to cities of greater significance, and McKenna just happened to pause for a few days longer than most, and thus the designation.

Others of a more youthful persuasion attributed the misnomer and thought it concealed the darker side of the town’s council, where “Past” was grammatically mispronounced in their minds despite the prominent sign at the north entryway of the town; but then, who among those who live in a place ever notice the signs coming in?  Growth, future prospects and the promise of unceasing expectations would outpace even the greatest of cities.  “They’ll see,” was always the reply when doubts surfaced; always, there was a glint of mischief pervading, as if the “insiders” knew something beyond what the rest of the nation didn’t.

Somewhere along the line, something happened.  No one knows what, or how, or even when.  The first sign was the grocery store that closed; the owner’s wife suddenly died, and it was like the oxygen was sucked out of a vibrant life, and without warning an implosion left a devastation beyond repair.  Then, graffiti appeared; people never suspected the kids from their own neighborhoods, as the pride of McKenna’s Pass was beyond such acts of hooliganism.  Other towns and cities may have been ashamed of their residents and nefarious neighbors who engaged in untold acts in the dead of night; this town never had to look away, or so the thought was.  Then a gas explosion ripped through the Southwestern end of Main Street; rumors began to surface; the Town Council’s senior member resigned with charges of kickbacks.

Change was in the air; inevitably, future expectations once anticipated by youthful folly was butting heads with the reality of present circumstances.  People could smell the aroma of death or, if not such a dramatic and sudden cessation, certainly decay around the edges.

Medical conditions and changes in one’s future plans have a tendency to do just that.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that one’s invincible plans of latter years of youthful enthusiasm are now requiring the tinkering of repair and replacement, the view towards change can be merely a picture window needing an alteration of interior design.  Medical conditions can prompt the necessity for change; and while change is often difficult to accept and undertake, one cannot fight against those forces beyond one’s control.

When the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker begins to experience an inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal Sector or the U.S. Postal Service, it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and 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.

For, as the townspeople in McKenna’s Pass may have thought that the future would always be one of growth, advancement and greater achievement, the reality is that contraction often follows expansion, and the certitude that life never remains static is a truth where youth’s folly ignores the wisdom of ages, as the empty buildings and hollow passageways echoing of silent plans left unfulfilled reverberate through the once-promising days of a town we knew as “McKenna’s Pass”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire