FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Illness

It is the pause button rendered by the universe, often without warning, without invitation and unwelcomed by all.  Is it the gods laughing in the heavenly seclusion, as wanton children playing with the mortality of souls unrequited, as matches in the hands of mischievous hearts undisciplined by law, life or empathy?

Then comes the triteness of wisdom, yet true but too late: “Oh, what a blessing health is”; “Is there a lesson to be learned?”; “Why me?”.  Is this the crisis of life that is merely an obstacle to overcome, or the long road towards a progressive decline where mortality is not just tested, but revealed as the weak link in the proverbial chain of man-to-gods-to the theology of our own creation?

Illness comes like that unwitting thief in the dead of night, but unlike the burglar who tries to remain silent but for creaking floors and unoiled passageways, it comes without concern for being revealed.  Does the universe test – or remain impervious like Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, where perfection attracts all towards its essence and destroys everything that attempts to escape?  Who determines the criteria of such a test?  What constitutes a “passing grade” as opposed to a failure in its mere attempt?  Is the evaluation contained within the strength of one’s own character, and what results in a declaration of “success” as opposed to the failure of everyday lives?

If it is truly a test of character, then Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers certainly get enough of it to collectively get a passing grade.  Yes, fortunately, there is the option of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, but for almost all Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the reality is that such a step is the last option chosen.

It is not so much that the benefit reaped from a Federal Disability Retirement is so miserly as to not make it worthwhile; no, to a great extent, the annuity of 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay, then 40% every year thereafter until recalculation at age 62 is generous enough to survive upon, especially when the alternative is to remain and kill oneself, resign and walk away with nothing, or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and, in conjunction with the ability to go out into the private sector and be able to make (on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity) up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays – it can lead to an acceptable level of financial security.

Ultimately, however, it is a truism that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers wait until the final possible moment before making the decision to file a Federal Disability Retirement, often allowing the illness to debilitate beyond the point of reasonable acceptance.  That, in and of itself, is a character test, and one that makes the illness itself of secondary concern, when one’s health should be given the highest priority, lest we allow the gods of wanton carelessness to have the last laugh.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: The Clock

It is an interesting device.  We can try and project back to a time of its non-existence, or at least when not every household owned one.  What could it have been like?  Where the hour was guessed at by the position of the sun – or was that not even part of the thought process?  Did the sun, dawn, dusk and twilight merely present a foreboding for a different paradigm?

Certainly, minutes and seconds likely had conceptual meaninglessness, and everyone worked, played and lived for the “moment”, without great regard or concern for the next day, the following season, or a decade hence.  Ship’s captains had a greater sense of future foreboding, though not necessarily of time, but of oncoming storms or changes in the currents; farmers lived season to season, and fretted as they still do about droughts or floods that might destroy crops; but as we entered into modernity, it was the grind of the clock that set the day for the city dweller, where payment for labor earned was remitted not by the rising and setting of the sun, but by increments of hours, minutes and labor beyond the darkness of a day ended.

At what point did time entrap us into a thought-process of expectancy that destroys the joy of a living moment?

If Friday provides a needed anticipation for a weekend of rest and repose, we immediately destroy and capacity to enjoy it by looking at the clock and realizing how many hours and minutes have passed by, and further denigrate our ability to appreciate by calculating the remainder of time.  We can become obsessed with the clock – its ticking diminution by projecting the decrease; the foreboding of what is yet to come, though it is merely within our minds; and the constant checking of incremental living of a life as against the clock that rules.

Medical conditions tend to remind us of the clock; or, perhaps it is the opposite, where the clock reminds us of our mortality when we suffer from a medical condition.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may become a necessity, the clock can serve as both a reminder as well as an obsession of foreboding thought processes.

Yes, the clock is likely ticking in a proverbial sense in terms of the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service having the patience (does such an animal exist for either?) in trying to “work with” the medical condition (a euphemism often interpreted as, “You better become fully productive soon, or else”), but in a more real sense, the Federal or Postal employee must make a decision at some point as to the prioritizing of one’s health as opposed to the positional elements of the job which is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to fulfill.

By law, the Federal or Postal employee who is released, separated or terminated (yes, there is a distinction between the three, but for the Federal employee of Postal worker, not enough of significance to define them here), the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of such separation from service.  Certainly, in that instance, the clock begins to tick, and not just in a proverbial sense but in real legal terms.  One need not, however, wait for such an event to realize the clock’s significance; watching the clock as the medical condition continues to deteriorate, is reminder enough that time rules us each day whether or not we succumb to it, or not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The sweater draped over a chair

You look in the room and see the sweater draped over a chair.  You turn your gaze elsewhere, engage the ongoing conversations and the din of others distracted.  Later, you turn back your gaze again, and the sweater is gone.  You look about to try and see whether someone picked it back up, is wearing it, or perhaps put it somewhere else.

You imply and infer – yes, one must follow the general grammatical rule that the speaker implies while the listener infers; but you are both the speaker and the listener, the one who observes and the same one who steps outside of the conscious universe to observe the observed.  You imply that someone put the sweater over the chair, and that same person (or someone else) took it at a later time – all during a period when your eyes were diverted elsewhere.

You assume that the world continues to operate even outside of the purview of your deliberate and conscious observation, as we all do.  You infer the same; of a world otherwise not within the limited perspective of observation, either by visual or audio awareness.  Yet, where is the evidence of such inference or implication; and that is, of course, what Bishop Berkeley’s restrictive definition of “existence” and Being was meant to encapsulate in perfect form:  Not that there are no mountains on the far side of the moon when we cannot observe them, but that we limit the definition of Being such that peripheral philosophical conundrums created by language’s difficulty with implied Being and inferred Existence can be avoided.

Perhaps we dreamt the draping of the sweater over the chair, or had a fit of phantasm and imaginative discourse that went astray.  In any event, you never saw the person either drape the sweater over the chair, nor dispossess the chair of its warmth and concealment.  Instead, you infer and imply – ignoring the grammatical rules previously mentioned.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the relevance here concerns writing up an effective narrative of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s position, and the legal argumentation to make in order to persuade OPM:  to what extent should facts and other statements be directly delineated, as opposed to leaving certain matters presumed or otherwise to be inferred or implied?

OPM is a bureaucracy, and with all such administrative entities, is made up of varying levels of competence and acuity of observation.  For the most part, in writing up the narrative on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the general rule should be to make that which is implicit, as explicit as possible, and never to leave the room where a sweater is draped such that disappearance of the garment may leave a mystery otherwise unable to be solved except by implication and inference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire