FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Unending Cycle of Relapse

It is merely from a perspective of combined incrementalism with an admixture of hope and self-delusion that people talk about a “relapse”.  The plain fact is, most medical conditions follow a fairly predictable and linear path of progressive deterioration, with critical junctures of static chronicity, and marked by charted moments of quietude interrupted with a fury of vengeful prose.  If a business graph were to depict the pathway of most medical conditions, the ups and downs of the jagged lines would mesmerize and confuse us with contemptuous puzzlement.

We assure ourselves that we are “getting better”, when all the while we continue to ignore, procrastinate, explain and justify all of the indicators and warning signs of downward decline.  An increase in the medication regimen, explained by mere temporary need; greater pain, with reference to some minor activity recently engaged in; and so the self-justifying conundrums are thrown as explanatory deliberations, when the bodies suffer so despite the words offered as sacrificial animals to the gods of thunder.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, this phenomena of parsing words despite facts which fly in the face of reality, is often born of necessity and a false image of self, society and servitude to the “mission of the agency” or the Constitutionally-born importance of the U.S. Postal Service (circa Benjamin Franklin, thank you).  But health has a funny way of  defying self-justifications of ineffective prose, and poetry and thought never curtails the unending cycle of relapse, precisely because what we do to our minds, bodies and souls accounts for little when misuse and unintended abuse prevail.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who fails to make one’s health a priority first, then all other considerations of secondary import, the need to file 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, often becomes a victim of such unending cycle.

To suffer a “relapse” is merely an attempt to justify that which the body or mind was merely telling you all along.  Yes, sometimes the quiet whispers in the deadened silence of night can be ignored and disregarded; but it is those haunting quietudes which perturb and disturb despite our best efforts to ignore, which roar back to engulf us when least we expect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Admixture of Incremental Deterioration of Health Conditions While on Federal Employment

Destruction rarely comes as a sudden, tumultuous event; that is why tornadoes and hurricanes are noteworthy news items.  Instead, it is the slow rot of incremental deterioration which represents the commonplace thread of destroying lives, sort of like the metaphorical water torture where the progressive drip of each drop of destructive degeneration defines the dilapidation of deferred degradation (have we now engaged in enough alliteration to satisfy one’s amusement?).

Life itself is complex; filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must contend with such complexities, and it is often prudent to “separate out” the admixture of various issues in order to arrive at the best decision for each particularized life and circumstances.  Like splitting a cluster of atoms, separating a neutron can result in an unexpected implosion if one does not have a clear path and exit strategy, including having full knowledge of the consequences potentially resulting from each action engaged.  To the extent possible, one should never begin a bureaucratic process without knowing the resulting impact, whether foreseen or unforeseen.

The decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management by the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, can never be taken in a vacuum; the medical condition may have had its inception several years before; the agency may have undergone multiple changes of supervisors, where previous bosses signed off on liberal use of SL, AL & LWOP; where travel was curtailed with a wink-and-a-nod, and a loosely-held network of implicit understandings allowed for continuation in a position despite one’s inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.

Then, one day, in walks a fresh face, and the other side of humanity suddenly disappears.  Complaints are whispered, or perhaps even officially filed as an EEO suit.  Stress levels are increased, and suddenly medical conditions which were previously managed and quietly maintained flare up into major impediments and life-events bordering on crisis and turmoil.

One must understand, however, that the progressive and incremental deterioration was always in existence; it is precisely because of the slow, almost imperceptible nature of the rotting which was occurring, that few noticed.  Federal Disability Retirement is often the most prudent exit strategy in solving the problem of the incrementalism of havoc wrought by years of aggregated difficulties.

The first step in the process of preparing to file a Federal Disability Retirement application, however, is to sift and separate the relevant from the ancillary, without unintentionally splitting the proverbial atom, and to recognize that the crisis point is less of a singular event, and more likely a flashpoint resulting from years of neglect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Progressive Deterioration

The concept of progress normally implies a positive trajectory of events; but when combined with a negative idea, it reverses the trend.  To deteriorate in a progressive manner is to turn the concept on its head; it results in the upward trend spiraling downward; it reverses what should be, and transforms the positive into a negative statement.

The progressive deterioration of a person’s health can be an insidious, incremental and slow trending of the state of one’s being.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing such a phenomena, that experiential state of being becomes compounded with decision-making events which only exacerbates and complicates:  Am I taking too much time off from work?  What impact will this have upon my agency? How will the work get done while I take off?  What will be the response by my agency?

Such questions must always be in the context with the progressive nature of one’s medical condition — will it be a chronic and intractable deterioration, or will the negative trend at some point be reversible?

Cessation of the trend itself might be the acceptable point of positive inclination; reversing the trend in order to become better, healthier, stronger, etc., would be the greater goal.  But if the trending sees no end in sight, then considerations for the future must include the reality of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

The linear trending of decline is the indicator of those peripheral future actions which must be concomitantly taken, in order to help support the negative trend.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is a parallel course of action in order to support the trending declination, and one which should be considered in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Actions

“That which the Federal Agency determines is tantamount to the hand of God — only more powerful.”  Or so it may often seem.  And so the Federal (and Postal) Worker will often wait with trepidation and anxious disturbances, caught in the limbo of a Federal bureaucracy, whether in issuing a leave-restriction letter, a warning, a formal PIP plan, a determination of being fit or unfit for duty, and multiple other actions which will adversely impact upon a Federal worker.

Preemptive actions rarely have any efficacy with a Federal Agency; an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board is often seen as a mere formality for the Board to render a decision in the agency’s favor, especially when it comes to agency actions concerning discipline and work; and an EEO complaint, while a tactic for forestalling ultimate decisions, is a burdensome and lengthy process of litigation.

Federal Disability Retirement is often the most advantageous of avenues to pursue, if only because the standard of proof to meet the eligibility criteria is quite low — not the high standard of Social Security Disability, where one must show a deleterious impact upon the daily living abilities, but the much lower standard of being unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Proactive choices in life are often limited, especially when one is confronted with a seemingly omnipotent entity like a Federal Agency; but Federal Disability Retirement is an existent benefit which allows for the Federal or Postal employee to opt out and reach that rehabilitative period of seclusion, in order to regain one’s health and come back for another day, another fight, another round.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: OPM over OWCP

I still get many emails and phone calls about the onerous, “over-the-top” behavior, and the bullying tactics of OWCP/DOL temporary total disability payments & requirements — everything from constant, incessant and unending, harassing letters, to requiring further evaluations from second and third opinion doctors (or so-called doctors), to constantly requiring one’s treating doctor to justify the continuing disability status, thereby endangering the continuation of the doctor-patient relationship.  And who can criticize or blame the doctor for wanting to drop a patient for the amount of hours he/she has to put into, for “non-medical” issues, and for the time expended which the doctor will never be paid for? 

Yes, Worker’s Comp pays more.  Yes, it is non-taxable.  Yes, there are monetary reasons for staying on OWCP.  But the truth is, money doesn’t buy peace of mind or a life of lesser stress.  OWCP is meant to be a temporary means of providing income — it is not designed for the long term, and indeed, the Office of Worker’s Compensation makes that abundantly clear by their actions.  OPM Disability retirement under FERS or CSRS pays much less, but it allows for independence and a semblence of freedom, not even to mention a life of some dignity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire