FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Catch of the Day

Restaurants announce it; law enforcement offices declare it; con artists make a living by it; and agencies sneeringly pounce upon them. They are the designated focus for the day, often longer, and sometimes until they disappear from the depths of abundance which the season and migration of schools allow.

When one is a Federal or Postal Worker, becoming the “catch of the day” can mean that you are the targeted one; the one whom harassment and daily persecution becomes the norm and routine, and having such a reputation allows for the safe haven of others who exhale a loud sigh of relief for being spared such an ignoble designation. Once the target, agencies never let up. Whether it leads to a PIP, multiple suspensions, letters of reprimand, sick and annual leave restrictions on usage, doesn’t quite seem to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the persecutors.

Yes, there are some countermanding moves: EEO complaints; grievance procedures filed; even lawsuits and resulting awards of significant verdicts, on rare but victorious occasions. But the human toil expended rarely justifies such moments of rare glory; and for the individual who suffers from a medical condition, the juggernaut of the agency’s reserves and reservoir of implements and infinite resources of persecution means that a time of respite is merely temporary.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which one must consider when the coalescence of a medical condition, agency actions, and the recognition that one is unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, comes to a tripartite sequence of combined consonance.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has the opportunity to receive an annuity, and still go out and begin a new career in the private sector, and make up to 80 percent of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.  It is a consideration which should always remain a viable option, lest one’s picture remain with a bullseye depiction alongside the declaration that you are the agency’s “catch of the day”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Milestones

The expanded meaning of a “milestone” encompasses events of personal successes, where the capacity of the human will exceeds an expectation of what one thought one could do.  In its original and mundane conceptual history, a milestone was merely one in a series of numerical markers designating and identifying distance.  

For the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to endure a medical condition, a “milestone” can often be a period of time in which to reach; a three-day weekend to survive; a date on a calendar to arrive at, surpass, and continue to endure.  But while such milestones may provide a focal point to reach, the reality is that it is merely a representation on a linear continuum of days, weeks, months — until the years come and go.  

Federal Disability Retirement is an option to consider for those Federal and Postal workers who are suffering from a chronic medical condition, where such milestones may be deemed irrelevant by allowing for a life of recuperative days.  

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is in itself a milestone of sorts.  It is a recognition that there is, and can be, life beyond the federal sector; that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s particular kind of job; but, moreover, one can expect to find another vocation which may not be impacted as severely by one’s medical conditions.

Passing a milestone may be a positive step; using the milestone as a basis for a better future is more than a positive step — it is a step to secure one’s future, especially for the injured and sick Federal worker who may need to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Vicious Cycle

The circle is the sign of perfection; from the center, the equality of distance to the perimeter of the geometric figure; it also represents an endless cycle, whether of a process, a routine, or of life itself.  The qualitative nature of the circle, however, can be quite different from individual to individual.  Thus, for some, it is described as a “vicious cycle”  — where the circularity of a process feeds upon itself.

Entrance into the repetitive viciousness of the cycle often begins with an interruption, an incident or an issue which does not get immediately resolved in a positive manner.  For the Federal or Postal employee whose options have become limited because of a medical condition, the circularity of the vicious cycle involves the attack, counterattack and adversity engaged in between him/herself and the agency for which he/she works.  Thus, going head-to-head with the agency in a repetitive, endless cycle is an obvious indicator that it is time to contemplate Federal Disability Retirement.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the issue of an agency’s attitude towards the whole process should be taken into account — NOT as to the impact that the agency may have upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but rather, on the more important issue of whether one has a choice to file or not.

That endless cycle — that perfect geometric circle?  It also represents the truism that once the roller coaster begins, it self-perpetuates, and keeps going on the same, repetitive, circular, and endless path of adversity and persecution.  Only the Federal or Postal employee him/herself has the power to get off from the endless cycle — by filing for Federal Disability benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Beyond the Approval Letter

There are many stories of Federal and Postal employees who suffer from physical, emotional and cognitive (psychiatric as well as progressively deteriorating neurological disorders) medical conditions, who continue to endure within the confines of a Federal or Postal job, for years and years.  

Federal Disability Retirement allows for a Federal or Postal employee who has a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service under FERS (5 years under CSRS, which is already a safe assumption that such minimum eligibility requirements have already been met for CSRS employees) to continue to be productive as an employed member of the workforce — but in a different capacity.

Each story is a unique one —  filled with a narrative of human suffering, of enduring pain, hostility, and often discriminatory actions by the Agency.  The attorney who represents the Federal or Postal employee, however, has a specific and unique role.  He or she is not the Federal or Postal employee’s friend, therapist, doctor or financial advisor.  Instead, the attorney’s job should retain a singular focus — to obtain the Federal Disability Retirement benefits for the applicant who is seeking such benefits.  For, after all, it is only upon the satisfaction of the foundational basics that a Federal or Postal employee can then “move on” and go beyond the impact of a medical condition — to recuperate; to start a second career; to repair the physical, emotional and psychiatric impact of the past year or more; and to begin rebuilding after experiencing the jubilation of an approval letter from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Health

As we begin preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holidays, then into Christmas & New Year’s, it is well to pause and consider those things which we often take for granted, but which form the foundation of a productive life and career.  Health is indeed one of those “things” which are taken for granted.  It is somewhat like automobile insurance:  one never thinks about it, until one gets into an accident.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, health often becomes an issue with greater and increasing focal emphasis, precisely because the corresponding ratio between “effort expended” and “result obtained” becomes out of balance, where the chronicity of pain, discomfort, and inability to physically or cognitively engage in certain duties or activities, becomes pronounced the more one attempts greater efforts.  

What to do?  Preparatory work in setting the foundation for a successful future formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application begins with a good doctor-patient relationship.  It is often a good idea to begin to confide in one’s treating doctor, for that is the basis of a future formulation in considering a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: A New Beginning

After representing so many Federal and Postal employees over these many years, there are stories which continue to sadden me; as with all professionals, I attempt to bifurcate my life, and not get “personally” involved with my cases.  To blur the lines between providing sound and effective legal advice, and getting “involved” in the personal tragedies of my clients, would certainly undermine the professional effectiveness needed in providing for my clients.  To a great extent, I am successful. Every now and then, however, I am informed of a tragedy — and it touches me. Perhaps that is a good thing; for one can become insensitive, or “de-sensitized” in a way that can be detrimental.

I try and explain to many people that getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits should never be a judgment upon one’s career — let alone one’s life. A career can span a lifetime, or it can extend for a couple of years (i.e., at least the 18 months of Federal Service that is needed to even qualify under FERS). However long, to come to a point in one’s career where it becomes necessary to acknowledge to one’s self that certain medical conditions are directly impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of the job — such an admission should never be interpreted to mean that such a circumstance has somehow devalued the worth of a person.  Human beings are complex entities, bundled up by personality, uniqueness, family, job, hobbies, thoughts — a compendium of a history of one’s life.  Note that I merely inserted the concept of “job” within a sequence of many facets.  And, indeed, one’s job is important — it takes us away from the many other bundles of our lives, and forces us to expend 8, 10, 12 or more hours per day, Monday thru Friday, and some weekends, too.  But that which takes up a large quantity of our time does not necessarily or logically result in the definitional essence of a human being; the fact that we spend a great deal of time in the bathroom does not mean that such an activity defines our “essence”.  “Worth” of a human being attaches to each of us, and is inseparable from each human being.  One’s job and career constitute only a small part of us.  Let’s keep that in mind, and in its proper perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability: The Decision

It is always a hard decision to file for disability retirement benefits.  Aside from the psychological anguish which must be confronted (feelings of worthlessness or devaluation of one’s worth because we live in a society which places a high value upon productivity, work, and output & competence in our jobs, despite our giving lip-service to “family”, “relationships” and “community”), the potential disability retirement applicant must also make pragmatic decisions based upon a variegated spectrum of financial, professional, family & economic circumstances.  Such foundational, decision-making factors could include:  one’s medical conditions (obviously); the type of job one is in; whether a disability retirement annuity is sufficient or even realistic; whether the job market outside of the federal sector is promising enough to allow for making up to 80% of what one’s job currently pays, in addition to the disability annuity; whether a parti-time position or partial income added to the disability annuity will be enough; whether one’s supervisor & agency will be “going after” you for performance, conduct, or excessive absences, and if so, how soon; and many other factors. 

It is always a trying time.  Consideration in filing for disability retirement benefits must be based upon a deliberative methodology, based upon serious consideration of multiple factors.  In basing a decision to file for disability retirement, it is best to do it right before considering doing it at all.  As such, consultation with an attorney who is an expert in the area of Federal Disability Retirement laws can be an invaluable source of information in making the “right” decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire