OPM Disability Retirement: Interruption of Tradition

The common remark against the American culture is that it lacks any stabilizing force of tradition.  That is a fair criticism, given that it has emerged from a recognized “Old World” and designated as the “New World”; and, indeed, it is where cultures and traditions were left behind, in search of a fresh beginning and open opportunities to remake one’s self, the future, etc., and thus leaving behind the past and old ways of living and thinking.

That is the macro-cultural perspective; but within the microcosm of one’s insular universe, the privacy of small pockets of traditions form.  Individuals and families perform acts, engage in daily living and embrace repetitive forms of normative establishments, thereby creating private dwellings of tradition.  Yes, the concept of tradition normally is comprised of the transmission of an established set of values, beliefs, etc., from generation to generation; but if there exists none, and freedom and liberty continually interrupts the constancy of cross-generational transference of the old ways, can one “create” a tradition within a family, a group, or an individual?

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the vacuum of a lack of tradition necessitates finding security and refuge in one’s family and the daily, repetitive connection with one’s Federal or Postal employment. That is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often an extremely traumatic event.  Where values and self-identity are formed within the context of one’s employment, and where such identification of self extends for years and decades back to one’s family, the sudden interruption and dismantling of a lifetime of daily routine in performing the essential elements of one’s job, is indeed a trying and difficult time.

If “tradition” is likened to “routine”, and instead of inter-generational transmission of values, it is replaced with a set of constancy of actions over an expansive period of time, then the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be likened to the sudden uprooting of a person who must travel from the “Old World” to the New World.

What devastating impact upon the psyche must have occurred upon arrival to a strange land.  But then, such psychology of trauma must be similarly experienced by the Federal or Postal worker who loves his job, but where a medical condition suddenly necessitates the sudden demise of working for a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and where one’s self-identity must now change because he or she can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job. Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the Federal or Postal worker who, as a result of a medical condition, can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, can file for, and become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Yes, it can be a traumatic event; and, yes, it can be the destruction of a tradition of years of established routines in one’s life. But like the immigrant of old who had to uproot from a land where opportunities faded and starved, the Federal and Postal worker who files for Federal OPM Disability Retirement must look to the future, and follow the sage advice of old, as Horace Greeley is said to have quipped, and to “Go West, young man…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Rocking Chair and the Never-Ending Story

The myth about retirement has long receded; once upon a time, there was an idea, a concept, an ethereal potentiality, of reaching a point of quietude where reflection, dispensing of wisdom, and calm gardening and tending to the passing of time would be the status of choice; but modern life has wreaked havoc upon such a notion.

It was perhaps engendered by the character, Mose Harper (the sidekick of John Wayne) in John Ford’s, “The Searchers”, who only wanted a “rocking chair” at the end of his troubles.  But the never-ending story in these times of modernity, is that one must always claw and fight for maintaining the high standard of living which we enjoy and have become content with.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must take an early form of retirement — a Federal Disability Retirement — because of his or her ongoing medical conditions, where the medical conditions no longer allow for the continuation in one’s job because they prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of the job, the battle to first prove a Federal Disability Retirement application, then to retain and maintain it, throughout all of the complexities of the bureaucratic and administrative process, is a daily chore and toil.

First, there is the right to get it approved; then, there may be periodic Medical Questionnaires which are issued and which mandate a response; then, if Social Security Disability is approved, the offset between FERS Disability benefits and SSDI must be calculated; then, if you become employed and lose the SSDI benefit because of income, the FERS Disability annuity must be recalculated; then, at age 62, recalculation because the Federal Disability Retirement annuity effectively ends, based upon the total number of years of service, including the time one is on Federal Disability Retirement; and then the need to maintain income sources because of the reduction; and so the never-ending story continues.

Indeed, it is not from the rocking chair which the retiree tells a story, like Mose Harper must have done in his old age; rather, the modern retiree from the Federal sector, whether as a former employee of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, must tell his or her never-ending story to an empty chair with rhythmic movements to and fro absent an occupant, as the old man remains away, trying to figure out the further complexities of this age of modernity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Delaying the Filing of Your OPM Disability Retirement Application

Delay temporarily suspends for a time in the future; sometimes, at the cost of immediacy of pain, but the human capacity to ignore and obfuscate allows for procrastination to be an acceptable act of non-action.  But certain issues defy the control of delay; medical conditions tend to remind us of that, where attempted suspension of dealing with the pain, the progressively debilitating triggers, or the panic attacks which paralyze; they shake us to the core and pursue a relentless path which betrays procrastination.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement becomes an employment option.

When to file has some room for delay; it is, after all, the underlying issue which must be attended to first and foremost — that of the medical condition.  But the Statute of Limitations in a Federal Disability Retirement case imposes a structural administrative procedure which cannot be ignored.  The Federal and Postal worker who is separated from Federal Service must file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.

So long as the Federal or Postal worker is on the rolls of the agency, the tolling of the statute of limitations does not begin; but once separation from service occurs, the 1-year clock (with some exceptions, but ones which you should not rely upon to subvert the statute of limitations) begins.

Delay for a specific purpose is sometimes acceptable (if one is still on the agency rolls), as in undergoing a medical procedure or seeing if a treatment regimen will work; but delay beyond the bureaucratic imposition of a statute of limitations is never one which should be allowed, as the benefit of a OPM Disability Retirement annuity will be barred forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Reconsiderations & Additional Medical Information

The denial comes in the mail; it is a further delay, a negation of prior efforts; for many, it undermines and constitutes a condemnation of sorts, and a refusal of an affirmation sought in places and from people where none is offered.  It is, after all, another piece of correspondence which negates the negative:  the medical condition itself and the loss of one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, represented the first foundation of negation; now, a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management merely confirms, via a second negation, the loss of positive forces inherent in failure and Federal bureaucracies.

But all things in life must be kept in their proper perspective, and a reaction of disproportionate magnitude must be kept in check; life is often a series of mishaps; yes, it just seems that such unfortunate events happen to certain individuals, and as the old adage goes, when it rains, it pours.  Once the initial shock of the denial is withstood, then the trepidation and cautious perusal, followed by an obsessively careful scrutiny, of the reasons for the denial issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is engaged; but the futility of such efforts will become apparent.

The monotony and disinterested voice behind the volume of verbiage and almost bellicose verbosity becomes more than apparent: either the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management did not read the medical file or, more likely, selectively chose to extrapolate statements and findings out of context in order to justify the denial of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At this Second Stage of the process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it matters not what the words say with respect to the denial issued by OPM; the file is immediately transferred to a general, unassigned file, awaiting further instructions from the person to whom the denial has been issued:  if left unanswered, the file will disappear within the cauldrons of bureaucratic warehouses; if a Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, then it will ultimately be assigned to someone in the Reconsideration Division at OPM; but, in either case, it is no longer the responsibility of the OPM representative who issued the denial, and no amount of phone calls, venting or sending of additional information to that person will make a whit of difference, until (a) the Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, and (b) the Federal or Postal employee addresses some of the concerns brought up in the denial itself.

The Reconsideration process itself is fraught with dangers and potential pitfalls; it confirms that perhaps the Federal or Postal employee should have sought the advice, counsel and guidance of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, but moreover, as most mistakes are correctable, it may be a wise avenue of choice to seek legal assistance, finally.

In any event, time factors must be considered, and the time lost today by extension of a denial, further confirms the oldest adage of all, that being penny wise is to be pound foolish,  a saying that is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but can be traced to those earlier.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Uncertainty and Confusion: The Federal Employee’s Sense of Identity

It is through ascription from third parties, over extended time periods, where the development of self-identity takes root, through subtle, incremental ways, until one day, unnoticed, without fanfare and unheralded, it becomes a known quantity of acceptance within one’s social circles, professional associations and the greater macrocosmic world we encounter.

The day or the time can never be pinpointed; having a name plate designed and placed upon one’s desk does not provide it; and calling yourself repetitively the title or nomenclature doesn’t quite satisfy the requirements of the sought after.  That is the anomaly; one’s identity is who one is; yet, it cannot be established by the is-ness of being; it is dependent upon the declared identification of that is-ness by others who recognize the being-ness of the individual seeking the is-ness of the person within a specified time, constrained by the community of place, and bordered by the parameters of choice. “Oh, that is so-and-so”; “Yes, Linda is the Director of ____”; “Our Letter Carrier? He’s John ___”; and so does one live within the identity of third-party ascriptions, and how we develop the self-reflection of who we are.

When lost, the crisis of self-identity comes to the fore. When it is stripped prematurely; when choices must be made to abandon the identity; when external circumstances necessarily dictate a change of identity; the crisis is exponentially quantified.

For the injured Federal employee or the chronically ill Postal Worker who must 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, the crisis of identity is often inseparable from the anxieties driven by an overwhelming sense of fear, loathing, and anxiousness over a future unknown and unanticipated. For, having a medical condition which suddenly dictates the terms of one’s choices, is essentially a negation of all that one has worked for; and to top it all, one’s very identity which has been ascribed — almost without thought, presumptively and assumed throughout without daily payment or homage for retention or reapplication to maintain the worth and value of that title — is about to be stripped, lost, taken away, and thrown into the greater heap of forfeited titles.

Abandonment, release, and sudden absconding from a known and identifiable context of life; that is how it often feels when one loses one’s identity. The medical condition itself, however, must dictate the terms of disengagement; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a necessity and the urgency of doing so will allow for that plateau of rehabilitation in order to attend to the priorities of life; for, without life, there can be no identity, whether one’s past, present, or future ascription of the honorific title is grand or insignificant. In the end, one needs to recognize that the title most prominent and of greatest priority, is the given life as recognized in one’s reflection, and not the fleeting glory attained through accolades from others, no matter how great it all felt at the time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire