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

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Semblance of Joy

Happiness is but a fleeting moment; satisfaction is but the natural result of completion; but joy, that is a tincture derived from the depths of one’s soul.  Perhaps there is an element of word-play; how we define levels of emotional states of being can depend upon the contextual usage of each conceptual construct, and in the end it is how we have described a given set of circumstances, based upon our personal experiential encounters and what sense of being we perceived at the time.

Beyond the veil of words, casting aside the layers of callouses which we have carefully built up over the years in order to survive the daily onslaught of venom in this world lacking of empathy or cooperative caring for one’s fellow human being, it is when a traumatic event suddenly befalls us that the true state of our souls becomes apparent.

Medical conditions have a tendency to magnify the reality of our state of existence.  Suddenly, perspectives become skewed; realities once depended upon appear suspicious; and we begin to lie to ourselves and take on a semblance of joy.  Why is that?  Is it because we fear the truth of human cruelty?  That despite all of the allegedly cultural advancements and technological innovations we pride ourselves about, the truth of our evolutionary baseness has never changed:  the vulnerable are merely meals for the predator in waiting.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such a state of affairs is nothing new.  Agencies begin to pile on; coworkers shun; supervisors increase the level of vitriol and punish through administrative sanctions and progressive pressures through threats and intimidating language; and, all the while, the dedicated Federal or Postal worker must suffer through with limited options and constricted avenues slowly being blocked and cordoned off as restricted zones no longer open, where once the brightness of tomorrow promised the world.

For Federal and Postal employees finding themselves in the untenable position of having a medical condition, such that the medical condition is preventing him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

When once the Federal or Postal worker comes to a realization that the bet upon happiness cannot be placed upon one’s employment or career, and where satisfaction is no longer a possibility with the mission of an agency; when the exhaustion and fatigue of hiding behind the semblance of joy begins to constrict and close in, like the human figure behind a Noh mask covering the claustrophobia of existence; then, it is time to consider taking on the long road of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether you as the Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Getting Disability Retirement when Working for the Federal Government: The Sanctuary

They are artificial pockets of safe havens; deliberately set aside, we hear of them as “wildlife refuges”, “bird sanctuaries”, and similar anomalies created for other species, but not our own. It is perhaps a testament to human beings that we care so much for the protection of other species, with little regard for ourselves.

But sanctuaries, by their very definition, are important for the preservation and longevity of each individual and the greater genus of one’s species; whether a temporary sanctuary set aside as a sacrament to be guarded; a day of sabbath fenced off from all other days; an interlude of quiet reading, listening to music, or merely enjoying the company of one’s spouse, relatives or friends; a mind, body or soul preserved, to ready one’s self to face the harsh realities of the world of business, finance, competition and combativeness.

For Federal and Postal employees who face the added realities of a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to threaten one’s ability to continue in one’s chosen career field, the option of attempting to secure a more permanent sanctuary by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is available so long as certain minimum requirements are met.

For FERS employees, the Federal or Postal Worker must have a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service. For CSRS employees, the Federal or Postal Worker must have a minimum of 5 years of Federal Service. Beyond that, there are complex statutory guidelines which must be met, which are a combination of medical, legal and factual criteria which must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Throughout the administrative process, one must always attempt to create and preserve that cognitive and emotional sanctuary in order to survive the battles ahead; as wildlife preserves require careful planning, so such efforts should similarly be applied to protect the value of the human species.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Impact of the Economy

In making a decision impacting Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, multiple factors must be deliberated upon.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a serious step.

One of the pragmatic advantages involves the factor that, in addition to receiving a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the Federal or Postal Worker may make earned income up to 80% of what one’s former Federal position currently pays.  This is an important consideration to take into account, given the fact that FERS Disability Retirement pays 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year, then 40% every year thereafter.

In a seemingly entrenched recession with an anemic recovery, the Federal or Postal worker may pause in considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. However, it is important to recognize the necessity of the present, while keeping an eye to the future in making such a decision.

Normally, it is the medical condition itself which dictates the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  This is not an “optional” circumstance, where one may consider filing or not filing.  The only “option” (if there is one) involves whether one can continue to drudge through the pain, anxiety, panic attacks, or other medical episodes, for a few months longer, and therefore delay the initiation of the process.  But this only delays the inevitable.

Thus, the first order of business must always be to take the time to attend to one’s health and medical condition.

The economy will always be “what it is”, and will trudge along and recover. When that moment comes, the Federal or Postal employee who has already filed for, and obtained, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS will have the time to carefully select his or her second career path, because of the financial security of Federal Disability Retirement benefits already received.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Working while Waiting

Because of economic necessity, it is often advisable for Federal and Postal employees who are filing or have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS to continue to work, to the extent possible, without damaging one’s health.  

Often, agencies will “accommodate” a Federal or Postal employee during the waiting process — utilizing the term “accommodation” in a loose sense of the word, and not in compliance with what the law requires in terms of the concept of “accommodation” for purposes of Federal Disability Retirement.  Thus, in the loose sense of the term, an Agency may temporarily accommodate a Federal or Postal employee with light duty work, suspension of one or more of the critical elements of one’s position (such as traveling, lifting certain heavy things, standing for extended periods of time, etc.), and that would be helpful to allow for the income to the Federal or Postal employee during the long administrative process.  

However, one should also be aware that, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management, any back pay will be awarded only to the last day of pay — whether it is for a full week’s wages or for a dollar.  

Thus, since back pay for the first year will be at a rate of 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years, it is wise to calculate and see whether the amount of work one is performing falls below the 60% mark.  If it does, then it might be prudent to go out on LWOP.  On the other hand, it may well be that economic necessity will dictate one’s decision and force the issue, and that would be fine — so long as one makes a decision on matters impacting Federal Disability Retirement benefits based upon full knowledge and comprehension of all of the relevant facts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Back Pay

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is important to focus upon the first of the three — preparing.  Preparation often involves thought, reflection, and contemplation.  Formulation requires action; and filing and the time thereafter requires patience.  

In preparing, one must address the issue of how best to survive the lengthy process — does one have sufficient accrued sick leave?  Can one survive without pay and take LWOP during the (potentially) 8 – 10 month process?  Will one be allowed to continue to work, even in a light-duty capacity?  If the latter, then it should be kept in mind that when a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, such an approval will provide for back pay all the way back to the last time a Federal or Postal employee was paid by the agency — whether it is a dollar, a hundred dollars, or a full paycheck.  

Thus, while acceptance and receipt of donated leave is often desirable, the time of having taken LWOP for any period of time will be negated with the last day of pay.  For example, if a Federal or Postal employee takes several months of LWOP, then accepts a pittance of donated leave, that time of LWOP is lost — for, again, back pay is paid only to the “last day of pay”.  Considerations to be reflected upon when preparing to formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Waiting upon the Office of Personnel Management

A Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS must understand that the waiting portion of the entire process is probably the most difficult time, precisely because it is a time of inactivity, where one’s future plans are placed on hold because of the uncertainty of the decision.  

Everyone, of course, believes that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application has merit. Otherwise, a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, should never have been prepared, formulated, finalized and filed — but for the strong belief that one’s medical conditions prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  

Every Federal or Postal employee whom I represent believes that his or her case is a “slam dunk” case, and it is the job of an OPM Disability Attorney to present it as such, but within the limitations of what the doctor & other supporting documentation will provide.  Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed with the Office of Personnel Management, then the destiny of one’s future plans is somewhat placed in the hands of the OPM benefits clerk.  

Activity often gives the appearance of progress, and inactivity presents a frustrating sense of powerlessness.  But waiting is part of the process.  As such, it is best to make plans, prepare for one’s future in other ways, and allow the Office of Personnel Management to review one’s case properly and thoroughly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire