Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The content

It is ultimately the content that matters, especially in a technical, administrative procedure where tone and context become secondary.  After all, we are addressing a “medical” issue – a cold, clinical subject when it comes to filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

What should be included?  How far back?  What is meant by the “essential” or “core” elements of a job?  Does the capacity and ability to arrive at work for the duration of completing assignments in and of itself constitute an “essential” element of the job?  What if the job can be performed, but one simply cannot drive to the job?  Must I address failed efforts by the agency to “accommodate” me, and does the term “accommodation” have a narrower legal meaning than the way it is loosely used by my agency?

These and multiple other questions go to the heart – the content – of the issues presented when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Content is all important, and the audience to whom the Federal Disability Retirement application is intended is relevant to keep in mind.  If you are standing in line at a grocery store, or at a Post Office, and someone remarks to you, “You are obviously in pain.  Go ahead in front of me” – such kindness and consideration may prompt you to explain, in somewhat abbreviated form, the content of what your medical condition is.  However, if that same person who showed such consideration turned out to be a close family member, who either already knows about your condition or is otherwise intimately familiar with the circumstances and the history of your medical condition, your response may be somewhat different.

How much history of the medical condition needs to be related to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; what medical records need to be attached and accompany the narrative report that creates the “bridge” and “nexus” between the medical condition and the essential elements of the job duties – these all fall under the general aegis of “content”, and must be carefully considered in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Life’s ruinations

The poetry of a fork in the road sings to us from those innocent days of childhood voices; of life’s beginnings, the promise of future longings, and those lazy summer mornings left far behind in dusty coves where love’s forlorn memories linger in misty waves of lapping thoughts.  Life has a way of beating us down.  A wise man once said:  If you don’t like the way the day is going, stick around, as everything changes over time.

We tend to focus upon the trials of the moment, as if there is no tomorrow, and perhaps that is a “good” thing, if we think that life is a linear progression (or regression, as it were) of experiences unfolding and eternally unending.  What does it mean to have a “proper perspective”, or a “balanced view” of life?  In the living moment of travesty and despair, can one reach beyond on either side in order to view the middle from afar?  Or are we so wrapped up in our own troubles that we can never quite see beyond the travails of our own creation?

We have lost the capacity to maintain vigilance as the gatekeeper of incoming information and data; instead, we are like rudderless vessels, being thrown to-and-fro by the waves of data-overloads, forever accosted by the connectivity for which we pay dearly in terms of money, loss of soul, and depleted creativity.  We cannot think for ourselves, anymore, because we have Google and viewfinders to guide our ways; and we no longer map out our road trips because we have electronic guiding devices to do that which we have lost our way in attaining.

For every second we have been promised that we would save with the advent of a new electronic device, Jim Croce’s time in a bottle would have been filled tenfold, if only we had stuck to the revolving voices emitted by the crank of an antique phonograph.

Life was once a promise of a future hope and unrealized cacophony of mirth to be reached; now, the darkness of life’s ruinations overshadow us all.  There are no promises or instructions of “how to” when we are born; only a meandering sense of anarchy by which we are shoved into and respond by the seat of our pants.  In the end, life’s ruinations are determined by the choices we make, and are well within the control of our willpower to map out fate, destiny and the avenues of alternatives offered.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who see the coming signs – of increasing harassment, administrative pressures and managerial sanctions – it is time to begin preparing.  Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, if and when a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset becomes disabled as a result of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, is a necessary step in sidestepping and avoiding those pesky forks in the road which represent life’s ruinations.

In such instances, Google won’t help, and even an expensive GPS device won’t be of much use.  Instead, it is an individual choice to be made, and the time is ripe when you realize that life’s ruinations are often the result of procrastination and delay in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM forthwith.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Peripatetic Nature

But for a rarity, we seek its very opposite; consistency, stability, and the duration of longevity; these, we believe, provide for that which we didn’t have ourselves, yearn for, or seek to give to our own offspring.  In domestic legal proceedings, we hear tell of incongruent arguments where, in the midst of separation, the parties delineate what is in the “best interests of the children” — of remaining in the family home, maintaining a stability of regularity, etc.

From our limited micro-perspective, the loss of constancy when contrasted with the length of one’s own mortality from birth to death, is but a linear insignificance in comparison with the age of the universe.  Conceptually, we recognize this; and yet we constantly fight against it.  Our forefathers maintained a single job from youth to death; then, someone thought of the idea of “retirement”, and suddenly there were mandatory age requirements and proposals floating about concerning the “golden years”, all the while keeping pace with mass constructions of nursing homes and home healthcare services.

The incongruity and self-contradictions are palpable, but somehow we get away with it all.  Is man a seeker of stability, or does he possess a peripatetic nature?  Beyond such a question is the tendency to reject and resist being “forced out”.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the persistent harassment, the hostile work environment created, and the progressive insistence of pernicious pettiness invoked to make life unpleasant — these are all signs to acknowledge that one must “move on” with life.

It is difficult enough to deal with a medical condition; harder still to attend to it in conjunction with work-related pressures.

Stability of purpose is often what we thought we wanted; and for the peripatetic traveler, perhaps moving to another phase of life is an easy thing; but for the rest of us, change — even recognizing the necessity and inevitability, especially for the Federal or Postal employee who must file 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 — is something that is hard to accept, given the true nature of man, even if we all think of ourselves as Aristotelian philosophers.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Early Medical Retirement: Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders; non-restorative sleep; Sleep Apnea; Sleep dysfunctions; altogether, they can cumulatively comprise distinguishable medical disorders, but often are lumped together, and can encapsulate differing and almost opposite conditions, including idiopathic hypersomnia, major hypersomnolence disorder, insomnia, narcolepsy, and similar medical disabilities.  Often, the effects and symptoms are the major issues, resulting in profound and intractable fatigue; inability to focus or concentrate; lack of mental acuity, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from various sleep disorders and varying severity of such sleep dysfunctions, the impact can be severe and palpable.  Whether in a sedentary, cognitive-intensive position where mental acuity and focus, concentration and attention to detail are impacted; or in “safety-related” work where reliance upon full awareness, wakefulness and perceptual judgment of one’s surroundings are critical; sleep disorders can have a direct and negative impact upon the Federal or Postal worker’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the positional requirements.

Such sleep dysfunctions and sleep disorders are viable medical conditions which form a foundational basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

In past ages, people used to merely associate and dismiss daytime somnolence as mere “laziness” and lack of willpower; fortunately, we now know better, and such knowledge is reflective of a small but incremental advancement in human progression, which is always an amazing feat in this cesspool of ignorance we deem as civilization.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire