Federal Disability Retirement: This Side, or the Other, of Paradise

It represents that mythical existence — whether in a physical sense, or a metaphysical state of being — where harmony, the absence of pain and a continuum of pleasure and contentment are experienced daily and in sustained fashion.  Perhaps it is a fictional creation propelled by those who have known the negative of that which has been formulated.

Ultimately, it is the place to which we strive, and whether we arrive just on the other side of paradise, or on this side, is the criteria which society judges as to the success or failure of a given life.  And who is the judge, and what right to render such a judgment?  One’s own assessment, and the insular world of one’s psyche, may well be enough for most; but that often merely involves the sleight of words, of redefining what words mean, in order to fit the conceptual construct which others have proposed.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS or CSRS, the capacity to attain a level of restorative quietude through relief from daily activities, may well be enough to constitute a state of paradise.

It is amazing how the threshold of meanings and goals to achieve are lowered considerably when one experiences pain or psychological turmoil and hurt.  Only those who have never experienced a medical condition fail to know what it means to be caught in the proverbial web of medical necessity.

For the Postal Worker and the Federal employee whose lives are shaken by a medical condition, whether it is physical pain or cognitive dysfunction, or both, the difference between landing on this side of paradise, or on the other side, is often determined by whether one gets Federal Disability Retirement benefits or not, and whether the period of rest and restorative state of being is attainable by securing one’s future stability and sense of peace.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: That Sense of Doom

It can often be noted in the quivering voice at the other end of the telephone line (or, would it be more accurate to state, in the modern vernacular, at the “other end of the satellite signal”?) — that sense of impending doom that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will encompass.

But such a sense of the negative is a misguided view of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, the Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating such a course of action should recognize and realize that it is essentially a positive endeavor — one which will allow the Federal or Postal worker to start a second vocation or career, and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

Federal Disability Retirement is merely an acknowledgement that there is an inconsistency between one’s medical condition and the type of job in which one is currently employed; it does not preclude one from working altogether, unlike the stricter rules and regulations involving Federal Worker’s Compensation benefits (OWCP/Department of Labor) or even SSDI (with a much lower cap in one’s ability to earn additional income).

And that feeling of doom?  It is like what the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell once quipped when asked about the source of one’s anguish when confronted with a metaphysical conundrum:  “It is likely merely an upset stomach”.

OPM Disability Retirement is an avenue which should be seen in a positive light, and that sense of doom one often feels should be set aside, and the reality of one’s situation and the brightness of one’s future should always be emphasized.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Projecting Forward

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS (while the statutory references and case-laws applying to each retirement system may be different, the basic substantive laws governing each are essentially identical), it is important always to project forward, to prepare for the eventuality, and to consider the options so that events don’t take control, as opposed to the Federal or Postal Worker (to the extent possible) maintaining control of the present and future events as they unfold, with the multiple and varied contingencies which can reasonably be predicted.  

For instance, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management, the rate of annuity compensation begins at 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service.  That first year, then, should be looked upon as a “transition” period for the Federal or Postal worker — with the full knowledge that in the following and subsequent years, the annuity will drop down to (and remain until age 62, when the disability retirement annuity becomes recalculated and converted administratively into a regular retirement, based upon the total number of years of Federal service, including the time on Federal Disability Retirement) to 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay.  

That being said, viewing the first year of annuity payments as a “transition” year means that one should be projecting forward as to what one will do in the following and subsequent years.  What kind of work will one do?  How will you make up the difference and reduction in annuity payments?  What preparations are or will be made for the reduction?  Will supplemental income be needed?  Will it be part-time or full-time?  What is the maximum allowable earned income which one can receive?  These are all transition questions which are important in planning for the projected future, forward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire