Federal Disability Retirement: Sometimes, Even Squirrels Fall from the Sky

Nature is not the penultimate paradigm of perfection.  Think about it: the entire apparatus of evolutionary advancement is based upon the theory of accidental genetic alterations of incremental imperceptibility, over great expanses of time, as opposed to the disfavor shown to sudden mutations.  Survivability of a species depends upon environmental adaptations and genetic flexibility in the hereditary accrual of alleles, favoring small and progressive steps of advancements dependent upon environmental pressures and factors of change.

Grand mutations and the fictional existence of the “missing link” are rarely successful; mistakes are successful if accomplished in small portions; but they are accidents of reliable anomalies, nonetheless. It is thus upon missteps, accidents, and mutations which we rely for advancement, and not a teleological drive towards a perfect being, like Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover.  And squirrels do sometimes misjudge a branch, and fall from the sky.

That is why it is anathema for the Federal and Postal employee to refuse to accept one’s vulnerability because of a medical condition, as if he or she did something wrong.  Youth tends to begin life with a view that upward mobility and progression is always to be expected; but the reality of life is that the principle underlying the universe favors interruptions and interludes. Having a medical condition is simply an event which is a natural part of life; and as mortality proves an organism’s existence, so a medical condition is merely its temporary reminder.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, there should be no cause for embarrassment or shame in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS. Yes, filing for the benefit is an admission of one’s vulnerability and susceptibility to nature’s admonitions; but as we agreed at the outset, nature is not the penultimate paradigm of perfection, and our bodies and minds are part of the macrocosmic universe of nature. To defy the natural degeneration and imperfection of nature is to ignore reality.

Sometimes, it is only when a quiet walk through the woods is suddenly interrupted by an unexpected thud, and we turn and see a dazed squirrel looking around as it limps off in confusion, do we recognize that perfection is a fiction created by man, and refusing to file for Federal Disability Retirement is a stubbornness that borders on ignorance.

Even the squirrel knows that much.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Continuation of Work

There is often the question of whether, during the process of submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, can/should one continue to work, and will such a status reflect negatively or adversely upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

The question is a logical one, stemming from the seemingly self-contradictory nature of the dual assertion — one which is explicit (the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, where the Federal or Postal employee asserts that he or she can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job), and the other which is implied (by continuing to work, does not one undermine the previous assertion?).

What complicates, confuses and muddles the issue further is the fact that, for FERS employees, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must also file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI), and in order to do so, the requirement of being in a non-working status in order to qualify, only further confounds the issue.

But careful analysis will reveal that such apparent contradictions are merely superficial ones.  Hint:  Federal Disability Retirement merely requires a legal standard whereby one cannot perform all of the essential elements of one’s job; continuation in one’s employment capacity does not necessarily mean that one can perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties; rather, it means merely that there are certain elements which cannot be performed.

Further, with respect to the intersecting issue of SSDI, there is a distinction to be made between qualifying and filing.  Life’s contradictions are often merely surface-intersections between technical word-games.  Once the verbiage confusion is resolved, the conflict itself dissolves.

It is sort of like the difference between reading about a man falling off of a cliff, and actually being a tourist at the Grand Canyon and being the subject of a news story the next day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Life After

At first, it begins with survival for another day; then, upon a realization that “another day” will merely bring forth a multitude of subsequent such days, the goalposts are moved to allow for several months.  Once the realization hits you that the medical condition will not merely subside or disappear, and continuation in a present mode of existence is simply not a feasible option, then the perspective as to one’s career must by necessity change.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, finally becomes an option.

Thereafter, the goal is to outlast the waiting line at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — to get through the First Stage of the process, and if necessary (and a denial is obtained instead of the approval at the initial stage), the second, Reconsideration Stage.  There are multiple stages beyond the administrative stages, of course, but whatever are the administrative and bureaucratic procedures which must be undergone, the goal is to get the approval letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

And what happens when that goal is achieved?

One finally recognizes that all such goals were merely intermediate in nature, and it is at that point that one realizes that, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the true goal is to live one’s life after separation from the Federal agency — separation in an administrative sense, certainly, but more importantly, in terms of time and medical recuperation.

Health, some financial security; a peace of mind; and a time of recuperative peace; there is indeed a life after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Resisting the Urge to Panic

The process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is merely the first step in the long road to proving one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

“Merely” and “first step”, of course, are conceptual triggers which have an expanded context for those who have been engaged in the informational infinity of articles, blogs, postings, etc., which are voluminous in quantity, and often questionable in qualitative reliability.  Putting together all of the medical documentation; formulating the nexus between the medical documentation and one’s position description; securing the support of one’s treating doctor; being persuasive and adequately descriptive in one’s applicant’s statement of disability — all of these are necessary steps before the actual filing of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Then, there is the long waiting process.  Thereafter, with the potential for a denial at the First Stage of the process, and a subsequent denial — at the Reconsideration Stage of the process — then preparing for an Administrative Hearing before a Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board:  throughout it all, the urge to panic must be resisted.  

During the long and arduous waiting periods between a denial and the response to be submitted (or even sometimes between an approval and the beginning of interim pay; or between the receipt of interim pay and the finalization of one’s case), there is the looming financial pressure from not having sufficient income during such periods.  Those Federal and Postal workers who have prepared well and have the financial resources to endure the long period of non-pay status are fortunate.  Combining the difficulties of having a serious medical condition with the pressure of finances, the urge to panic is almost unavoidable.  

Ultimately, however, panic will not resolve the issue; the focus must be singularly placed upon attempting to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is entitled and eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and whatever one’s circumstances, the future rests upon one’s ability to focus upon that goal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Cycle of Patience

It is a common element, now, in a Federal Disability Retirement case to require patience in surviving the bureaucratic process, and while recognizing the cycle of the process does not make it any easier, understanding the entirety of the process can help one to prepare.  

There is initially the preparatory process, which is almost exclusively within the purview of one’s control — of preparing and formulating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A); of obtaining the proper medical narratives and documentation (although, here, the time frame is obviously dependent upon the availability of the treating doctor to prepare the narrative reports) and any introduction of legal argumentation in support of the Federal Disability Retirement packet, etc.

Then, submission to the Agency takes it partially out of the control of the individual Federal or Postal applicant — although, because of the obvious employment connection to the Agency, the Federal or Postal employee can often make phone calls or other contact to attempt to persuade the expediting of the secondary bureaucratic process.  

Once it leaves the Agency Human Resources Department, or the greater Civilian Personnel Office, then it is out of the hands and control of the Federal or Postal employee entirely, and must wind itself through the bureaucratic maze and morass of the National Finance Office and the Office of Personnel Management.  OPM, like any other agency, is subject to seasonal delays based upon Federal workers who take vacations and time off — Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Memorial Day weekend/week, and throughout the months of June, July and August.  A week’s delay in a Case Worker’s assigned cases can exponentially quantify the delay-time, because upon return of the worker, there are other administrative functions which must be attended to which further compounds the ability to take up where he or she left off.  

Patience is a virtue; as such, Federal and Postal Workers must be the most virtuous of human beings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire