Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS: Adopting an Adaptive Plan

Most of us barely have one; and when we do, we quickly forget about it and move on, satisfied that —by the mere declaration of having one — we need not implement it or follow it rigorously beyond the mere possession of it.

The old Soviet Union (do we remember what the abbreviation, “U.S.S.R.” stood for?) had 5 and 10 year plans, and when the stated goals were not met, they simply cooked the books and declared that they were well ahead of the declared plans, and so the satellite nations under the rubric of the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” nodded its approval and genuflected to the Soviet Central Planning Committee (for, you couldn’t have a plan unless there were multiple committees to make those plans) and were grateful for the plans even though their populace were starving, despite the declared success of all of that planning.

Battlefield officers rely upon them; although, in recent years, because war is no longer fought by armies planning an attack upon other armies, the need for adopting an adaptive plan has become a survival necessity.  Life itself rarely follows a plan; most of the time, one’s day is consumed by just trying to survive.

When a medical condition hits us, of course, then all of the planning in the world — from a retrospective and myopic viewpoint — didn’t amount to much.  What is the plan, then, for a Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform his or her job because of the medical conditions that prevent one from doing so?

The Federal Disability Retirement “plan” is to allow for a Federal or Postal employee to file for OPM Medical Retirement benefits under FERS, so that the Federal employee can medically retire, focus upon one’s health and still, hopefully, enter the workforce in the near or mid-future and continue to contribute, all the while receiving a disability retirement annuity.  Now, that sounds like adopting an adaptive plan where interruption of a life plan allows for some grace beyond lack of planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Responsibility

What is it about the ascription of such a word, that there can be a direct correlation or, if taken in a different context, some mere connection but no causality?  We can say of a person, “He is responsible for X”, and yet never have directly encountered X or (if a person) never even have met X.

Thus of monsters and thugs throughout history, for instance, we might say that “Stalin was responsible for 20 million deaths, at least,” or that Mao was “responsible” for a 100 million peasants dying during the late 50s; or, of course, of ascribing to Hitler the countless millions; and, so that we don’t leave out other “responsible” monsters of history, of Pol Pot, Idi Amin and many others besides, though we cannot link a causality that would pass Hume’s skeptical test of anything more than events following one upon another, we nevertheless accept that all such political figures were “responsible” for the deaths of millions.

What is the criteria in coming to such a conclusion?  Is it a negative proposition — that if X had the power or position to prevent such events from occurring, then Responsibility-Y can be ascribed?  Or must it be a positive declaration: If X engaged in Acts A, B and C, then Responsibility-Y can be attributable to Individual-W; and further, if only Acts A & B, but not C, then less so; and if only Act A, but not B & C, even less so?

Responsibility”, of course, is a malleable and transitive concept; it can change with the contextual winds of opinion, historical perspective and a cultural shift of viewpoints.  Look at how we approach our Founding Fathers — of responsibility for the slave issue in the United States, but somehow excusing each if (A) any one of them willed that they would be freed upon their deaths, (B) that one was “personally” against the issue but for economic, practical reasons were “forced” to go along or (C) they treated them “kindly” and “responsibly” (here, we have a double-meaning of the term, for such an individual was both “responsible” as well as being ascribed the “responsibility” of being a slave owner).

Or, look at the manner in which America treated Native Americans — of a genocidal history no less cruel than Mao’s starvation of the peasantry; and yet, because of such grand concepts as “manifest destiny” and the depiction of an entire populace as “uncivilized”, we can avert “responsibility” by distancing the causal agents; and the greater distance between the agents, the less we ascribe responsibility.

On a lesser scale, what about work?  If work suffers and there is no reason for it but laziness and lack of attention, we ascribe “responsibility”.  But what if a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — is that Federal or Postal employee “responsible”?

The short answer is a “no” — and that is recognized by “the Law”, in statutes, regulations and case-laws cumulatively aggregated under the conceptual aegis of “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.  It is precisely because society recognizes that a medical condition itself — and not the individual — is directly responsible for one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, that Federal disability retirement exists as a benefit to pursue.

But it cannot be accessed until and unless there is an affirmative step taken by the Federal or Postal employee, by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  That is where “responsibility” comes into play as a direct causal link — of initiating the steps and actually filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Employment: Mansions with many rooms

There is room enough, and the imagery posed by the concept presents the warmth of an open invitation, whether the guest is willing, able or otherwise unprepared for such unconditional hospitality.  Mansions often pose a stoic, cold and unwelcoming façade, and it is always the people who inhabit them and the guests who frequent such expansive and impersonal grounds that make the difference between icy relationships of uncaring attitudes steeped in jealousies engendered and encouraged by competition, envy and mistrust, or the comfort of caring families.

It need not be a steadfast rule that the larger the house, the less amiable the people; or, its corollary, the smaller the abode, the qualitative and proportionate substance involving mirth, laughter and joy.  It is, perhaps, the feeling that geometric expansion and distance between rooms correlates with a certain stoicism that encourages lack of closeness; whereas, if you have to double-up in bunks and share bathrooms, wait upon one another just to get by a narrow passageway, you are forced to tolerate the quixotic eccentricities and foibles of each other, and quick and easy forgiveness is not too far away when you have to live in close quarters where anger, holding grudges and carrying pockets full of resentments simply will not do, as such overloads of unnecessary burdens tend to weigh each other down into a pit of misery that cannot withstand a house full of people.

Once, a local pastor quipped, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  True enough, and one might add:  “And when gathered into close quarters, the ugliness shows through all the more.”  Perhaps it is that the heavenly mansion has many rooms, not because so many people are expected to arrive as permanent residents; rather, because angels and spiritual entities who have crossed the irreversible divide care neither for cramped spaces nor of expansive comfort, but live contentedly wherever they are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who work for a Federal agency or a Postal facility, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the mansion with many rooms is likened to the particular workplace that one spends so much time in.  Then, when you become the subject of gossip, the trigger point of harassment and the butt of whispered jokes because you have taken so much time off, filed for FMLA protection as well as grievances and EEO Complaints to try and ward off the constant adversarial actions directed against you, it may be time to consider a change of residences.

No, this is not to imply that you should consider the “spiritual” world; rather, to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as with the proverbial mansion with many rooms, it is not the place itself that makes much difference, but the people whom you are surrounded by, and when a medical condition begins to impact your ability to perform the essential elements of the job, it is perhaps time to seek another with many rooms, or a smaller house with friendlier occupants.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Age

It is only that proverbial “state of mind” for those it does not impact; then, when reality sets in, the decrepit bones and uncooperative muscles, inability to will the stamina to rise to the occasion, and the creaking temerity of organs unable to muster the vitality of even a decade ago, we submit to the currency of our own destiny.

We can scoff at it; deny it; attempt to defy its residual consequences; and even remain indifferent to its effects; but in the end, mortality demands a say in the matter, and age is like the ravages of time and the echoes of a haunting flaw:  inescapable and unwavering, it creeps up and declares its prominence at the head of the table.  Some feel the effects well before the standard time; others attempt to revolt and rebel until the impervious universe indifferent to human incantations of defiant ineffectiveness simply ignores the pleas of hopeless tumult.

Age comes upon us like that undeniable thief in the night, burglarizing the last remaining hope and hint of a better tomorrow.  Of course, the connotation can be twofold or more:  Of the linear quantification from birth to the present, counting in solar years and seasons of rotational inevitability; or, it can denote a state of moving beyond the halfway point and into the pendulum swing of destiny evidencing man’s mortality.  There are, of course, other meanings – of a certain epoch or period; uses like, “coming of age” or applying it to various methodological interests in placement within a period of history.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating preparing a 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 relevance of the term is multitudinous:  Age in terms of eligibility towards regular retirement; how old, but more importantly, can one continue until retirement age, or will the ravages of time, medical conditions and deteriorating workplace environment lead one to such a decrepit state that to continue on would merely evoke a devastation of any future hope of enjoying retirement at all?

For, when the stated age of one’s linear presence in this universe is far less advanced than how one feels “health-wise”, and the hollow look of hopelessness prevails where the future is merely a black hole of bleakness, another turn of pain and suffering, and no amount of “positive-thinking” will brighten an otherwise dismal perspective, then what would be the point of continuing to struggle just to meet the linear statement of age, but have no joy left to reap its benefits promised?

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, is an option to consider, when age cannot be prolonged to meet the eligibility requirements for regular retirement, and the body, mind and soul are screaming out that one’s career has come to a point where age is no longer a factor in considering whether or not the essential elements of one’s positional duties can be met – instead, the proverbial dawn of an age forthcoming requires that something must give, but age is simply an echoless march of time that hears not such cries of rebellion or protest.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Messy lives

In those Eisenhower years with residual trails into the following decade, we had those perfect television paradigms – of “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father knows best” and “My Three Sons”, while the world around began its transformational process.

Hollywood decided much later that they needed to be at the forefront, leading social change and forcing cultural avant-garde transitions even if merely experimental and questionable for any positive good.  That decision is in stark contrast to the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s, where the staid and stodgy traditionalism of television series barely reflected the reality of the deconstructionism occurring in real time.

Somehow, those old sitcoms provided a paradigm of perfect lives and traditionalism that secured hope for the rest of us; for, the reality is that, like Dutch’s childhood and the rest of us, we grew up with messy lives, and paid the price for the rest of time to try and correct it and match it as against the paradigms of a reality that never was.

Medieval theological arguments always include the notion that, we would never have an idea of perfection unless there was some entity in the objective world that matched such a concept.  It is merely an extension of Plato’s argument for Forms, where the particulars in the physical world are mere imperfections striving to compare to the ultimate conceptual constructs of inviolable Forms.

That is often the problem with comparisons and arguments by extension; they make of our lives unsatisfying, precisely because we can never meet the expectations of others, let alone those we construct in our own minds.  That is why medical conditions can be so insidious; we possess and carry around with us those Platonic Forms of perfection, and when the reality of a medical condition prevents us from completing the career, the project, the lives we believe we were meant to live, the dispossessing trauma of realizing that we fell short results in a despondency because we set up paradigms of expectations that never were.

The question often left unanswered is:  What are the values involved?  What do we believe in?  What constitutes reality, as opposed to a fantasy based upon unrealistic expectations?  Isn’t “health” the priority of life?

If so, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s position, is the next logical step based in a reality-basis of an imperfect life.

Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fact that medical conditions further add to messy lives is no matter; we all have messy lives, and whatever fantasies we held on to when we enjoyed those old favorites, ignoring the problem never solved anything, and perfection should always be left to Platonic Forms in the dialogues of angels whispering among the heavenly orbs that remain hidden in the esoteric pages of those theological arguments long shelved in the monasteries of libraries long forgotten in the dusty bins of rotting books.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire