Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The option of nothing

The path of least resistance is often to simply do nothing.  To make an affirmative choice is sometimes a painful one involving sacrifice and steps taken which will determine an outcome, later to be judged by retrospective insight, as to whether it was the “right” one or a “wrong” one.

To negate, refute or otherwise do the opposite, and to say “no” in the choice-making process, is also an “affirmative” one, if only in the negative sense.  It is still a call made, a judgment asserted, and while the “no” may not be able to arrive at a retrospective viewpoint as to whether it was the “right” one or the “wrong” one (precisely because, in the very negation of making a choice, one may never see any further consequences, but merely a nothingness that prevails from the option to not do that something, which is essentially a double-negative that results in nothing).

The worst option to assume is to allow lapse to occur – to do nothing, neither affirmatively nor negatively, and allow outside circumstances to determine the course of fate.  In taking such a path of least resistance, two things occur: First, you have left it in the hands of circumstances, and failed to take any affirmative steps in the allowance of lapse; and Second, the fact that you will never know it was a good or bad idea to allow for the lapse means that you have forsaken the entire decision-making process, and thus you disengaged yourself from the importance of life’s major participation.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing 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, the Statute of Limitations that imposes a restriction upon post-separation filing is One (1) Year.

Thus, the law is as follows: Upon separation, whether by termination or resignation, of a Federal employee, that Federal employee has up until 1 year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If the Federal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement within 364 days of the separation from Federal Service (give yourself at least 1 day, just to be on the safe side), then no harm is done.

If the Federal or Postal employee determines not to file (i.e., a negative – affirmative decision), then so be it, and after the 365th day, that Federal or Postal employee is forever prevented from asserting his or her rights under the Federal Disability Retirement laws, acts, statutes and regulations.

If the Federal or Postal employee simply does nothing – neither making an affirmative or a negative decision, and simply allows for the time to lapse and the opportunity to pass – then the path of least resistance has been taken, with the opportunity to engage in the decision-making process forever lost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The smile

Some say that dogs don’t do it, but dog-lovers know better.  Cats certainly do, but with a slyness that betrays sincerity; and chimpanzees, hippopotamuses and elephants.  Birds cannot because of the rigidity of their beaks; and squirrels, certainly, with their flitting movements as they run joyfully across lawns and up treetops where nuts galore await their anticipation of delight.  But of human beings; we all engage it, but whether with sincerity or to conceal, that is always a question that needs pondering.

The eyes often tell all; as Plato and others have described it in metaphorical terms, the window to one’s soul; and so one may walk about and force upon the watching world the curl around one’s lips, but the vacant stares or the look of pain, the distant eyes that betray the insincerity of the smile will often manifest the anomaly of what the expression means.

Only human beings can portray the opposite of that which is natural.  For, with animals (and yes, that includes dogs, as well, despite what the so-called “experts” say) the smile is just that – an expression of the facial features that impresses upon the world that happiness, contentment and a tummy rub (i.e., for dogs) produces the effect that naturally comes about – the smile.

For humans, however, it may be to conceal; of the smile that says to the world, yes, I am happy by all appearances, so leave me alone and allow me to wallow in my own secretive misery.  Or, the expression on the face that curls the lips just before the smiling face stabs one in the back.  Or, in a group of people where everyone is talking and smiling, you spot across the room the person who is also smiling, but still you wonder, for the eyes don’t quite match the curling expression.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job and position, the smile that conceals is often the one that is worn day in and day out – to conceal the pain, to hide the truth, to cover the anguish.

One cannot be genuine and continue on in life if the inner turmoil does not match the outer reality of life’s living.  It may be time to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, if only to have the smile on one’s face return where the genuineness of the expression matches the reality of one’s situation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The legacy

It is something that we leave behind.  Yet, unlike a wallet, a watch, a piece of jewelry or a troublesome child better left forgotten, we don’t have an opportunity to go back and get it.  We say of that laundry list, “Oh, I need to go back and get it” (except maybe of the last in the list, whom we hope will be adopted into a kindly family and simultaneously also leave the parents behind); but not of the legacy.

No one ever says of that, “Oh, I left my legacy behind, and I need to go back and get it.”  Instead, it is intimately bound up with mortality, our sense of the future minus our own presence, and a dominant desire and urge to “leave a legacy” behind, as if to do otherwise will diminish the memory of one who has now departed, will soon be forgotten and will populate the mass of unknown graves without tombstones littering the earth beneath ivy and weeds that overwhelm.

It is often money itself, which is soon spent and forgotten; or a special “something” that one remembers another by, which is placed in a drawer and also quickly, easily and without conscience soon forgotten; or, perhaps a more lasting imprint of some residual effect – a poem, an antique car (otherwise referred to as a “junk heap”), or the family farm.

Whatever the legacy left leaving lasting latitudes of lost loneliness lacking love’s longing for lengthy locutions (sorry for the alliteration, but it cannot be helped), it is something that is left behind, cannot ever be retrieved, and may or may not have a lasting impact upon the person or groups of people for whom it is intended.

Then, one can stretch the meaning to include a more modern interpretation of the concept of a legacy – of one’s own.  That is a paradigm of a “legacy” in the more common usage – of a memory of one’s life, of what kind of a legacy will one leave that will be remembers by others – that you worked yourself to death and didn’t spend the time with your kids (refer to the above, first sentence herein, where that may be a blessing), your wife or friends?  What is the point of an empty legacy of that sort?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who begins to think of one’s life, health, future and legacy, especially because a medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue in the Federal or Postal career of one’s choice, the consideration of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often and intimately tied and bound to the fragile nature of a medical condition and its impact upon one’s life.

Struggling daily with a medical condition while trying to contend with a contentious Federal Agency or Postal Facility is not only “not fun” – it is, moreover, a futile exercise that diminishes the legacy of one’s life as a greater whole.

The “legacy” one leaves behind, indeed, is not like a wallet, a watch, or a piece of jewelry; but it is like a child left behind, where regrets for the future may yet be corrected, and for the Federal or Postal employee who needs to focus upon one’s health and future orientation that can no longer include the current job one occupies, preparation of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, may be the next best thing to a legacy yet to be considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: Like the Wind-Up Toys of Childhood Yore

They were innovative creations, precursors of the digital age and battery-powered contraptions.  The disadvantage, of course, was in the limitations imposed by the length of the coils allowing for winding, releasing, then causing the movement; and so the appearance of independent animation lasted merely for the duration of the internal mechanisms and the capacity allowed by delimited space, time and mechanical release.  Like the belief in the invisible thread gently pulled by gods and angels designated to protect, the mechanism of innovation in propelling wind-up toys lasted in limited form.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel as if they are mere pawns and wind-up toys, the sense of limitation is self-imposed through continuing in an environment which fails to foster or  remain intrigued.  The child who spent hours winding up the fascination of one’s imagination, watched the toy engage in its repetitive movements, but never lost the focus and concentration and ongoing relishing of delight in a simple contraption, is like the agency who once catered with loyalty and encouragement to the needs of the Federal or Postal employee.  But the medical condition which begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, or requires greater time and effort, is like the reaction of that same child who loses interest because of the broken toy which fails to provide the pleasurable interests engendered and fails to give thought of repair or redemption, but merely of replacement.

When the commonality of childhood dismay and adulthood crisis converge as parallel universes of clashing calamities, then it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing 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.

Filing for FERS or CSRS disability benefits, for the Federal or Postal employee, is a time of reckoning; of understanding what one’s medical condition has portended; how it has impacted one’s place in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and where events and circumstances have lead one to.  And the time to file for Federal and Postal Disability Retirement benefits is not when the coils of the wind-up toy gives out, but long before, when the fascination of childhood innocence still tickles the glory of inventive interest in the world around, lest the spark of humanity be stamped out forever like the brokenness experienced with the stoppage of inner workings of the wind-up toy of childhood yore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Survival

The struggle to get through a given day can be overwhelming.  The complexity of the human phenomenon is beyond mere comprehension; and, as some mysteries are simply unsolvable, so the accepted view of evolutionary will for survivability is defied daily.  Can it really be explained by a language game encapsulating “instinct”, “genetic determinism” and “innate desire to propagate one’s species“?

Such a language game is tantamount to Popper’s falsifiability axiom; it falls into the category of a nice story, and even believable, but no historical data to test its veracity.  Each day is an extreme test of Nietzsche’s calculus of one’s will to live; and, by the way, it is always other people who truly compel the test.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the endurance of survivability is a test of daily will.  What makes it tougher?  It is a question of relativity, of course.

The increasing pressure from the agency for greater productivity was barely bearable before the advent of the medical condition, or its manifested symptoms exacerbated recently; the sudden whispers and glances askance when exiting or entering a room; and the cyclical viciousness of wondering what next the agency will do, is contemplating, or conniving, as the case may be.

Filing 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, may not look like the “be-all” solution in every case; but where the clash of survivability and the lowering of one’s stature within the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service from one of “golden boy (or girl, as the case may be)” to “questionable”, then the proverbial writing on the wall may necessitate the preparation of an “exit strategy” from the war zone of predators.

In the end, the anthropological account of man as merely one animal among others, and the predatory environment characterized by the paradigm, “survival of the fittest“, is both believable and compelling.

Hobbs, Rousseau and Locke were precursors in their literary genius of bifurcating the condition into that of “state of nature” and “civil society”, and we can still fool ourselves within the surroundings of technology and architectural wonders, that we are somehow above the beasts of burden, and other amoebas and prehistoric entities; but like tumors and other things that grow, survival cannot be the standard of living; otherwise, staying put would be the way to go.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire