Federal Disability Retirement: The Pathway of Choice

Pathways are peculiar entities; pre-Google Map times, they were a maze of forbidden routes, romanticized by a generation who were familiar with the television series, Route 66, and about hitchhiking, wrong turns, Robert Frost’s famous poem and Rand McNally road maps.

Now, of course, Google guides, directs, and (sometimes) allows for avoidance of unnecessary delays.  But is it the pathway of choice, and even more importantly, is the pathway chosen the best one for each one of us, the most advantageous for us, and the one which ultimately is in our best interests?  If the pathway that is chosen is simply so because all others are never known, or merely because that is the Robert-Frost-look-alike, when in fact it is delimited because of our lack of knowledge, is it really out of choice or of necessity?

Perhaps the career chosen is not turning out to be the realization of one’s dreams; or, as sometimes happens, an unfortunate set of circumstances has intervened — like a medical condition — and suddenly the pathway of choice that we thought would fulfill our hopes and dreams no longer seems possible; then what?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows us to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the pathway of choice for the immediate future may seem constricted:  Stay put and suffer; walk away with nothing; or, prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

That is the tripartite fork in the immediate road on the way to one’s pathway of choice; but then, there are other “forks in the road” beyond, such as being able to work at another job after one has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether in the private sector or in a state, county or municipal employment scenario.

Don’t be restricted to the immediacy of one’s pathway of choice, for there are many forks beyond, and the pathway of choice as dictated by Google maps only tells you which turn to make in the next quarter mile, and not about what may be chosen in future lives yet unforeseen.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

How much OPM Disability Retirement Pays?

“What will the benefit pay?”  That is often the primary concern of a Federal or Postal employee who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and it is certainly a valid first question.

The greater concern that cannot be overlooked, however, is the one that involves calculating the cost of NOT filing.  In the end, those Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have three fundamental options: Stay put; resign and do nothing (or wait for termination/separation proceedings to occur, which amounts to the same thing); or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

The benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is quite simply calculated as 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year (offset by 100% of any Social Security Disability benefits received during the concurrent payments received) and 40% of the average every year thereafter (offset by 60% of any Social Security Disability payments received during those years), until age 62, at which point the Federal Disability annuity is recalculated as “regular retirement” based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that the disability retiree has been on Federal Disability Retirement.

Thus, the “greater” benefit in calculating the cost has to take into account the fact that one is actually “building up” one’s own retirement by the years one stays on disability retirement — for, those very years that you are receiving a disability retirement annuity count towards the total number of years of Federal Service when it is recalculated as “regular” retirement at the age of 62.

Yes, it is true that on the cost/benefit ledger that one should review before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, you need to take into account the lesser income and the lengthy bureaucratic process that must be engaged, but you should also never forget what the originating basis for considering such filing compelled the consideration in the first place: Your health.

Calculating the cost of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits too often places the emphasis on what is lost — in terms of monetary gain and loss, etc.  But in calculating the cost of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted and considered to and by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the primary issue involves one’s deteriorating health and whether you can continue to remain in a job which has clearly become inconsistent with the medical conditions one is suffering from.

In the end, calculating the cost must go beyond the lessening of income; it must calculate the cost of one’s health, which is the single greatest asset one possesses.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Employee Disability Retirement: Fathoms and farthings

They are words seldom used by ordinary people, and are instead found within contexts now of limited usage except by reference to anachronistic novels and reference manuals, or perhaps in sea-faring settings where such terms are related to between seasoned old-timers in the field.

The former term refers to the unit of measurement for the depth of the ocean’s topography; the latter, a unit of currency so small as to have become obsolete by now with the inflationary course of history having relegated such amounts to irrelevancy, and ceasing to be recognized as legal tender by 1960.  Besides, it was a “foreign” currency as well, and was not a currency used in current usage within recognizable current vintage, anyway (yes, yes, a bad attempt at alliteration and a play on words).

What do they have in common?  They both measure a unit of X, of course; they are also words that have “meaning” only within certain contexts, whether of specialized oceanographic particularization or, as to the latter, within a historical context if one were writing a play, screenplay, novel or short story that included anywhere from the Victorian to the Elizabethan periods.  It is a reminder to us all that words come in and out of “meaning” and relevance based upon the context given and recognized.

Language games”, as the term Wittgenstein ascribed, retain their relevance and applicability depending upon the context of the usage adopted.

It is no different when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal or Postal employee, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Suddenly, the Federal or Postal employee is thrown into a “language game” that has been ongoing for decades, but is new to the Federal or Postal employee who must prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Such terms as “The Bruner Presumption”, “viable accommodation attempts”, “Persuasive legal effect of other disability ratings,” etc., come into play.  Yes, you may be able to research and understand some of the terms, but the particularization and the anachronism of such terms may come back to haunt you unless you, as the Federal or Postal employee trying to submit an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, can fully comprehend the specialized nature of this complex process called Federal Disability Retirement.

For, like fathoms and farthings, it may be best to consult an attorney who has a long experience with such terms and usage in order to better heighten the chances of a First Stage Approval from OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Habit

No, this is not about that peculiar creature that Tolkien created who used to rule the earth but now hides in little dirt hutches in the deep recesses of forests (don’t all children and adults who have read his works believe in their heart of hearts that Hobbits still exist, and we just don’t see them?); rather, this, too, is a creature of sorts, just not the imaginary creation that gave joy to so many.

How is it that we come to learn it?  Is there a numerical value that must be first ascribed before the regularity of X becomes a Habit-Y?  What constitutes a definition of the repetition, and how is it learned, as opposed to unlearning certain types of constancies?  Is there a numerical value that further transforms a habit into an obsession, and where is the dividing line and what demarcates the distinction we thus impose?

If a dog, each morning upon the awakening by an alarm clock set by his master, rolls onto his back and waits until he gets a nice tummy-rub, and never deters or detours from such a habit, can he, too, unlearn it?  Is a habit, moreover, merely a settled tendency, such that the rest of those around may expect it to occur, but when it does not, is not necessarily a surprise or a disappointment, but a mere reliance that “normally” occurs but is not mandated by a turn to another direction?  When the expectation does not come to fruition, do we simply say, “Well, normally it is his habit, but perhaps he changed his mind”?

Kant, for instance, was known to take his walk at a specific time, and it was said of him that the townspeople set their watches against his daily routine and habit.  Does not that sound more like an obsession?  Is the difference one where there is greater ease to “break” the regularity, whereas an obsession is where such a tendency cannot, and is no longer a “voluntary” act?

Additionally, is there a difference with a distinction between a “habit”, a “ritual” and an “obsession”?  Or, is there no clear line of bifurcation (or is it “trifurcation”?), but the lines can cross over easily – as in, when we engage in a habit, sometimes there are rituals that are performed – washing one’s hands in the same way as always; combing one’s hair a set number of strokes; skipping over a particular crack in the sidewalk on the way home; and are rituals merely of greater intensity with obsession than with a habit?

And what of necessities that arise?  Such as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for Federal and Postal employees – do people not file because their “habits” are entrenched in a belief-system that one must just “buck up” and ignore the warning signs of a medical condition that continues to deteriorate and progressively debilitate?  When do habits stand in the way of doing that which is “reasonable” under the circumstances?

Here is a thought: For Federal and Postal employees suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, let not habit become an obsession, and instead, allow for the rituals of life to free you from the habitual obsession of ritualistic redundancy, and instead, begin preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Separation and Retirement under FERS or CSRS: The stick figure across the street

We all drew them.  They are simple figures, one-dimensional, created not only by children and uncreative hands, but by sophisticated artists who convey complexity through their uncomplicated depiction.  Upon such lack of depth, we can project an unending dearth of fillers, precisely because the simple lines invite us to increase the servile skinniness by piling a composite upon the lean figures which are mere caricatures devoid of substance.

The neighbor across the street, whom we have never met, and who is but a figure the size between forefinger and thumb, and remains the remnant of a stick figure, and continues to convey, so; and when the annoying bark of a midnight dog awakens the sensibilities of insomnia and a sleepless night, or of such a thin veil of loss of restorative slumber that wakefulness becomes a better alternative, then we can fill in the gaps of the stick figure, add some meat and substance, with diatribes of invectives piled upon curses and unimaginable energies of words rarely considered and never previously uttered.

Coworkers used to be nothing more than such stick figures — before they earned that status of enamored stature.  That is why leaving a career, cutting short a lifetime of accomplishments, and turning away from the vindictive familiarity of a workplace once loved, is so difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset.

Once upon a time, the stick figures were mere appendages and afterthoughts in the life of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker; but over time, they gained substance, girth, and an unmerited significance merely by osmosis of daily encounters.  Thus, when a medical condition hits the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker with a force of plenitude such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be considered, it is not just the separation from mere commerce and economic entanglement which must be considered, but rather, extrication from a social network of figures who have evolved, over many years and sometimes multiple decades, into caricatures amassing and aggregating personalities, comradeship, shared sense of missions accomplished, and much more.

So long as they had remained mere stick figures from across the street, the distance of time, the separation of dimensions, and the wall of strangeness allowed for an ease of abandonment.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, however, the process is no longer merely a wave of goodbye to the stick figure across the street; no, instead, that has become the unwanted uncle who has no other home to go to, and must by obligation be evicted despite the relationship which has developed beyond the formless caricature painted upon our own minds.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The idealist, the skeptic and the cynic

The idealist possesses the dreams of hope and promise; the skeptic, the singe of hurt enough to dampen the spirit; and the cynic, well, he is the grumpy old man who has seen it all, been battered about by the reality of experiential confrontations where tales make the sweat pour from salted wounds too hurtful for words to embrace.

Do they represent a tripartite spectrum of thoughts, feelings and motives, or merely unconnected differences demarcated by time, encounters and length of procrastinated envy?  Do we all begin with the zeal of idealism, pass through the comfort of skepticism, then end up bedridden in the cocoon of cynicism?  Does generational wisdom conveyed by the old to youth ever pause the bursting bubble of naive relish, where mistakes foreseen and palpably avoidable allow for the wounds of time to be delayed, such that skepticism never enters into the unwelcome gates of a soul’s purity?  Or, does destruction of the essence of a person necessarily result in a society where generational transfer of wisdom is scoffed at, and youth and its folly is celebrated merely because beauty is defined by age, sound judgment by pharmaceutical ingestion, and where mistakes made are linguistically altered by clever euphemisms which extinguish not the pain of experiential confrontation, but the narrative which meekly follows?

Whether as inevitable stages of growth and decay, or dots on a graph of spectral divergence, either and all are extremes which reflect the stage of life, experience and historical context which an individual has encountered.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker whose calloused soul has already been deadened by time and degree of harassment, the additional burden of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one, if not more than one, of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the time may have come to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, once the Federal or Postal employee reaches the minimum years of eligibility criteria, the proof by a preponderance of the evidence must be shown.

For such a Federal or Postal employee, it matters not whether life has yet to dampen one’s idealism; nor that experiential harassment in the workplace has failed to turn one into a skeptic; or if cynicism has already prevailed, all the more reason to file for OPM Disability Retirement before the pain of the medical condition consumes to the extent that life’s despondency has already wrought.  In the end, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is a necessity because of life’s encounters, and no man or woman can escape the scars of time, truth of weariness of soul, where the idealist lives on in the forgotten youth of our memories, the skeptic in the hardening callouses of our experience, and cynicism in the dying disregard of one’s mournful essence in losing the sensation of one’s inner being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement from Federal Job due to Disabilities: Setting up the Contingency for Failure

We all engage in it, at times; and like the vertical clearance events, like the high jump, the measurement of the horizontal bar can make a difference by fractions of inches or centimeters, and where we place the bar will determine the outcome of failure or success.  “If X, then Y,” we whisper to ourselves daily; “If I am able to get through this day, then it shows that I am better, and…”

But medical conditions, especially, have an unique characteristic of skewing and distorting the predictable outcome; and, further, when human desire, unfettered by comparative milestones used as “reality checks” in order to keep contained the buoyancy of human wants, becomes part of the equation, the systematic self-deception can occur through setting up contingencies which will inevitably fail.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the issue of “when” to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (submitted first through one’s own agency Human Resource Office if not yet separated from Federal Service or, if separated, not for more than 31 days; but if separated, within 1 year of being separated from service, which is the Statute of Limitations in all Federal Disability Retirement cases, with some stringent and narrow exceptions) has often been influenced by the imposition of setting up multiple and linear series of contingencies, all of which were doomed for failure.

That is why the very filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application often becomes a “crisis” of sorts; for, as we desire things beyond our reach, and know that such events are unlikely to happen, so we continually engage in such fantasies of hope, despite the facts which face us, the yearnings which remain unfulfilled, and the loud signals which have become sirens emitted from our bodies and inner souls, screaming to change course before the collision of life’s disaster brings tumult and chaos beyond the nightmares of our own making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire