Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Bucket List

The notion itself has gained a level of popularity which defies the dignity of established social norms; somehow, there is underlying a suspicion that generations of staid individuals secretly desire for things they never acquired. A life of quietude is no longer acceptable; one must now traverse the Himalayan mountains and meditate in the far reaches of unexplored valleys in order to achieve a complete life; and as the virtual world of video sensations require an ever-heightened magnitude of excitement and accelerated testosterone levels, growing up and making a mere living in one’s own town constitutes a wasted life.

Bucket lists represent a proportionality of quiet desperation; for, the longer the list, the greater exponential symbolism of one’s failure to have accomplished a desired completion of life.  Aristotle’s contemplative perspective of a worthwhile life is no longer the paradigm; quantity, magnification, and romantic notions of adventure and comic book-like excitements represent the pinnacle of value.  Until, of course, the reality of human frailty and the mortality of finitude brings one back to the starkness of daily living.

Medical conditions have a peculiar way of bringing one back to reality, and humbling one into realizing that, bucket lists aside, there are mundane levels of priorities which override such artificial conceptual constructs of self-fulfilling interests. Being pain-free; having one’s short-term memory remain intact; the mere ability to walk from one’s car to the office, etc.  Medical conditions tend to force upon us the true priorities of one’s life.

For Federal and Postal employees who have come to a point in their careers where a medical condition prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the “bucket list” is satisfied with one item on the list:  How best to attend to one’s medical condition.  OPM Disability Retirement is an option which must always be considered by the Federal or Postal employee, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, in order to satisfy the checkmark. Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is a long, bureaucratic process which must be waded through in order to attain the desired end.

While an arduous administrative process, it is not quite as physically difficult as climbing a mountain, nor as exciting as diving from a cliff’s edge down a ravine into the deep blue of a cavernous lake;no, Federal Disability Retirement is a mundane process which may allow for a time to attend to the needs of one’s medical conditions, and perhaps to go on to engage a second, alternate vocation.

It is perhaps not on the top of most people’s bucket list. But then, such lists were always just another creation of Hollywood, meant to be completed in storybook fashion by those whose teeth are perfectly straight, white beyond nature’s coloring, and viewed in panoramic settings with a cup of steamed latte.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Listing, Prioritizing and Weaving

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee who is formulating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112D must describe the medical conditions which will be proven to impact upon one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Submission of the “list” of medical conditions will concretize and place boundaries around the issue to be litigated. Once submitted through the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then forwarded to Boyers, PA and assigned a CSA Number, the medical conditions described will be the only ones which can be argued.  Further, once a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, the approval letter will have an attachment which describes and identifies those medical conditions which the Office of Personnel Management found the applicant to be disabled for (is this the feared split infinitive?).

Thus, by way of example, if a Federal or Postal employee filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits based upon medical conditions X, Y and Z, and OPM based its approval only upon medical condition Y, then for any future Medical Questionnaire requesting an updated status on the annuitant’s medical condition, it is only medical condition Y which would be relevant.

As such, in the very preparation of the applicant’s statement of disability, important decisions must be made which will have significant future consequences:  which medical conditions to list; how to prioritize the medical conditions; whether to weave secondary conditions into the applicant’s statement, and to what extent, etc.

While some of the issues will be determined by the medical narrative report(s) prepared by the treating doctors, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — along with his or her attorney — to set the course for future events in a manner which will ensure not only present success, but future security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire