OPM Medical Retirement: Tomorrow and the day after

Tomorrow is for delay; to procrastinate, the day after.  Isn’t that the adage that recognizes what is truly going on — of saying, “Oh, I will get to that tomorrow”, but when asked about a project you dread (perhaps the unfinished novel that has sat in the bottom desk drawer for the past year; the basement that needs cleaning; the shed where all unused items and discarded castaways need “straightening up”, etc.), it is always to be accomplished “the day after tomorrow”.

Why is it that tomorrow may yet come and become realized, but the day after that somehow never arrives?  Is a single day delayed beyond the thought of tomorrow somehow too far from the reality of today such that it never arrives beside the closeness of tomorrow?

Saturday brings the smile of Sunday yet to be enjoyed, and leaves Monday too far to worry about, just as Sunday brings the anxiety of Monday because Monday is merely tomorrow and not the day after that.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the delay in postponing the preparation of a 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 understandable because it is, indeed, a “major step” into the unknown beyond, where careers must change, life enters a period of upheaval and the future holds a modicum of uncertainty.

But while delay until tomorrow may be reasonable, don’t let the “Day after Tomorrow” catch you into a trap where tomorrow never comes except in a rush where tomorrow’s exigency suddenly becomes an emergency too far delayed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is something no one thought about for tomorrow; but tomorrow quickly becomes today, and for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, the today that was once tomorrow’s comfort of delay will not change the reality of what must be done the day after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Pathway of Choice

Pathways are peculiar entities; pre-Google Map times, they were a maze of forbidden routes, romanticized by a generation who were familiar with the television series, Route 66, and about hitchhiking, wrong turns, Robert Frost’s famous poem and Rand McNally road maps.

Now, of course, Google guides, directs, and (sometimes) allows for avoidance of unnecessary delays.  But is it the pathway of choice, and even more importantly, is the pathway chosen the best one for each one of us, the most advantageous for us, and the one which ultimately is in our best interests?  If the pathway that is chosen is simply so because all others are never known, or merely because that is the Robert-Frost-look-alike, when in fact it is delimited because of our lack of knowledge, is it really out of choice or of necessity?

Perhaps the career chosen is not turning out to be the realization of one’s dreams; or, as sometimes happens, an unfortunate set of circumstances has intervened — like a medical condition — and suddenly the pathway of choice that we thought would fulfill our hopes and dreams no longer seems possible; then what?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows us to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the pathway of choice for the immediate future may seem constricted:  Stay put and suffer; walk away with nothing; or, prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

That is the tripartite fork in the immediate road on the way to one’s pathway of choice; but then, there are other “forks in the road” beyond, such as being able to work at another job after one has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether in the private sector or in a state, county or municipal employment scenario.

Don’t be restricted to the immediacy of one’s pathway of choice, for there are many forks beyond, and the pathway of choice as dictated by Google maps only tells you which turn to make in the next quarter mile, and not about what may be chosen in future lives yet unforeseen.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Ikebana and life

Flower arrangement is an ancient art form that reflects the conduit of living.  If you look up the etymology in wikipedia, the term is derived from 2 simple concepts in Japanese: “Ikeru” (meaning, “to live” or “living”) and “hana” (as “flower”).  Thus, the two concepts combined form the compound meaning that embraces multiple connotations — of paralleling one’s manner of living by the arrangement of flowers that fill the home; of the appreciation of such arrangement in reflecting the order or disorder in one’s own life; and of allowing the fragrance of life to permeate throughout one’s personal circumstances, etc.

The type of arrangement one engages; the sparseness or fullness that one orders; the manner in which color and form are aggregated, placed, trimmed and gathered — these can all mirror and duplicate the parallel universe of one’s own life.  An Ikebana arrangement can reveal much, both about a person and the inner soul, the life’s worth, the worthiness of deeds accomplished, and the lifetime of the values imparted.

Medical conditions can do the same — they tell not only about a person’s will to live and the endurance of pain and suffering within this world, but also about everyone else and how a society treats its workers.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 the Federal or Postal job, the long and arduous journey through one’s medical condition must be met with the complex administrative process of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Through such a bureaucratic process, one will encounter the same things that are reflected in Ikebana and life: of a life that must be rearranged; of colors, shadows and hues that must be mixed and matched; and of the ordering of priorities encountered, the changes of that which thrives or wilts; all of these, like Ikebana and life itself, must be considered when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

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

Federal Disability Attorney

Medical Retirement from Federal Jobs: Prerogatives

The exclusivity of a right or privilege can remain dormant until asserted; and assertion triggers and activates, and suddenly that which consisted merely of quietude and inertia, becomes the centrality of controversy, contention and adversarial encounter.  Much of life is like that; resembling the proverbial elephant in the sitting room, or the decaying clump of unidentified derivation of unseemly scents, people tend to avoid and take a wide berth while acting “as if” throughout the day, the week, a year, and in a lifetime.

In olden days of yore, the “prerogative” was retained by the King, the Crown and the Papacy to assert or not, depending often upon the whims of emotional and political turmoil.  The fact of inactivity or inertia with respect to the right or privilege did not result in the loss of it; rather, it merely meant that the non-use of power only magnified the unlimited potentiality for tyranny.  One doesn’t lose something merely because it isn’t used; unless, of course, you are a common man or woman without power or purpose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have been “allowed” by one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service to continue to remain in one’s position at the “prerogative” of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, by being retained in some capacity of “light duty” or informal arrangement of “less-than-full-duty” status, the attitude and atmosphere can be likened to the Royal Family allowing and granting a limited dispensation at the mercy of the Crown, and always with humble subservience of gratitude and metaphorical acts of low-bowing.

While it is dangerous to be indebted to someone else for too much, the greater travail is to believe that one owes something of value when in fact no such indebtedness ever existed.

For Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the fact that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service “says” that it is “accommodating” the Federal or Postal employee, does not necessarily make it so.

The prerogative to file 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, always remains and is retained by the Federal or Postal employee, even throughout a circumstance and situation where the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service contends that the Federal or Postal employee is being “accommodated”.  For, the term itself is one of art, and “accommodation” — in order to be a legally viable accommodation — must meet certain standards and rise to a level of legal sufficiency.

The mere fact that the Federal agency on High says it is so, no longer applies; for, despite its claim to greater status of Royalty, the days of uncontested power through mere lineage no longer exists, except perhaps in the feeble minds of the commoner who treads the hallways of Federal agencies and U.S. Post Offices with fear, trembling, and humble subservience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Life as a Byproduct

When it happens, or how, is of insignificant notice; the incremental arrival, where past segments of time seemed to traverse epochs where memories captured mere millennia of lifetimes; and then, one day, you wake up and yawn, and your life has taken on an incidental, tertiary level of importance.  One has been living by negation for so long, any positive or affirmative step has become a ghost of not just a Christmas past, but of decades evaporated.

Can life long be lived as a mere byproduct, where time, space and the centrality of one’s essence is shoved aside, and separateness of identity is relegated to occasional hellos and furtive glances of suspicious canopies?   Can a life of negation — of avoiding pain, trying to merely survive the day, or of constantly worrying about the next adverse action which might be initiated against you — is that “living”, or merely life as a byproduct?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition (whether physical exclusively, psychiatric, or a cross-combination of both) prevents the Federal or Postal worker from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the daily grind of avoidance, fearful of the next stressor of the day, and the constant battle to get some recuperative period of rest and peace away from the turmoil of work and one’s constant fight against the medical condition, leaves the human soul depleted and defeated, to the extent that life is merely a secondary and incidental experience; the true and focused task is intertwined with fear, angst and dread for each day.  Is that really a way to live?

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 be the answer to all of life’s problems; but for that segment of society, the Federal Sector and the U.S. Postal Service employees — it is at least a small step and a beginning.

Life’s problems did not aggregate in a single day; and just as the ancient Chinese proverb admonished that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so the life of a Federal or Postal employee can return to the essence of being, as opposed to a mere byproduct, when once we take steps to attain a level of restorative peace and begin to fulfill promises made but broken in past moments of progressive deterioration, when health was once taken for granted but now considered the gift of blessings forgotten in previous baskets of happiness and joy, lost but never forever regretted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: That Sudden Urgency

It happens all of the time in life; we leave things to fester, then suddenly the matter becomes important, then vital, creeps into a state of urgency, until it finally develops into a crisis.  The underlying impetus is based upon procrastination; the psychological explanation is deemed avoidance behavior, and the reality of experience merely recognizes it as the nature of human living.

We ask ourselves in wonderment, where did all of the intermediate phases dissipate to?  How did the incremental steps and half-steps in reaching this point of sudden urgency disappear unnoticed?  It is tantamount to children and puppies; that exuberance now gone, when yesterday they were seen with the innocence of youth and folly running through the field.  How does time suddenly evaporate and necessity emerge and develop into the here and now?  Is it mere hope of resolution, or laziness neglected upon a return of minimal investment?

Time was that once, in childhood years of visionary glories, we sought refuge in the calluses of existence where others took care and nurtured, and suddenly those “others” were no longer around, and growing up meant that responsibilities became our personal ownership, and we had to embrace those very things long neglected like faded photographs left discarded in the garden heaps of memories and fears, loathing and angst.

Medical conditions tend to be like that.  They are conditions of human existence which require attending to, and tending to like gardens left dying on vines of eternity; and suddenly it becomes clear that no one else really cares, but for self, family and the closest of friends.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have suffered for many months, and perhaps years, because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, there comes a day when the realization of reality suddenly comes upon us, and there is no more tomorrow, no room left for delay, and no time reserved for excuses.

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, is a long and arduous process involving multiple levels and stages of a bureaucratic morass, and it is this long and hard road of an administrative nightmare which must be dealt with when the sudden urgency of recognition and realization hits home.  And as home is where the heart and hearth are, so finding that restorative space of grace and fulfillment requires planning, deliberation, and a will to win, especially when dealing with a Federal agency such as OPM which views all medical conditions and Federal Disability Retirement applications with analytical suspicion.

Finding that it is suddenly necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits did not become an urgent state of being overnight; but through many nights and days of toil, it crept upon us like that unseen monster laying wait under the bed in the childhood fears of yesteryear, where protective mothers and fearless fathers long ago left for destinations still unknown, leaving the wide-eyed child of former days to fend for him or herself in this world of cavernous carnivores and restless winds of change.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire