CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Unlike the Superbowl

Since this week requires some profound analogy to the upcoming game between Baltimore and San Francisco, we must submit to the conventionalized mandate.

The Superbowl is an “event”; Federal Disability Retirement is similarly an event, albeit one which requires foresight, planning, and a purposeful step to engage in a change from daily living. There — the analogy has been made and satisfied. Moreover, in truth, most issues which surface in daily life are not based upon expectations of an upcoming event.  

The Superbowl is something which NFL players strive for as a goal; a career-ending injury or medical condition is more akin to what a player suffers on the pathway to that goal.  For Federal and Postal employees, a quiet, consistent and progressive route to a satisfying career is what is sought after.  For many, however, such a solemn and honorable goal is cut short because of unforeseen circumstances — either a physical medical condition, or a psychiatric condition which insidiously begins to disrupt and destroy.

Remember, however, that Federal Disability Retirement is not a complete surrender to a medical condition; that is precisely why the U.S. Office of Personnel Management allows for a person on disability retirement to engage in another vocation, and to work and earn income up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.  

The Superbowl is a one-time event per year; beyond that, there are 364 days of daily living which everyone must consider, including the Federal and Postal employee, as well as the star NFL player. Just something to think about, and to maintain a rational, balanced perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Football, Fair Play, and Federal Disability Retirement

Obviously, with the Super Bowl upcoming this weekend, any references to the game itself, whether by forced analogy or metaphor, is nevertheless an appropriate one.  I will play the politically safe game by not offending any of my clients — current, former, or future potential — by declaring, “May the best team win”.

I often wonder at people who claim to “never watch sports” — how an individual in this society, in this day and age, learns about what it means to distinguish the conceptual paradigms of “fairness” and “unfairness”.  As Wittgenstein consistently reminds us, much of what we learn is through repetitive observation and application; applying and utilizing the elasticity of language is merely an afterthought.  But when a person declares that “X is unfair”, in a generic, universalized statement of admonishment, the proper response before any further reaction is provided, is to ask the pre-textual question:  What are the rules of the game?  Thus, if a particular play in a football game is questioned as to its fairness, the proper response is to identify the “rules of the game” which delineate and define whether or not there was a violation of such rules.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, fairness or unfairness in the evaluation, analysis and determination of the application — as well as the timeliness and the amount of time that an entity takes in making such a determination — can be assessed based upon the “rules of the game”.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, such rules have to do with the Statutes, regulations and court cases which evolve, which define the limits and boundaries of decision-making.  Thus, if a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied, it is appropriate to respond with, “It is not fair,” if the Office of Personnel Management has failed to apply the rules, statutes and case-law in an appropriate manner, thereby violating the very rules which define whether an action is “fair” or “unfair”.  This requires knowing the “rules” of the game.  It is ineffective to merely declare that Action-X is “unfair” if one fails to understand and properly evaluate Rule-Y which applies and governs such actions.

Now, back to football:  whichever team one roots for, I predict the following:  the supporters of the losing team will declare:  “Unfair”.  Why?  Not necessarily because of a violation of rules, but because losing, in and of itself, has been accepted in society as being a state of unfairness.  So it goes (as that prominent author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., once said).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire