Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A New Beginning, after an Old Ending

Whether it is old age which makes for intransigence, or whether it is a lifetime of habitual living which makes for difficulty in changing the course of one’s future, will never be completely answered.

Youth better tends to possess the capacity to adapt and change as the malleability of circumstances confront an individual.  Old age — or those who euphemistically are identified as being “mature” — has the unfortunate effect of being entrenched in the ways of routine and unchanging, repetitive actions.

Perhaps the early requirement of being able to “multi-task” — of performing a variety of bombardments of sensory overloads on smartphones, iPads, computers, etc. — will have a positive impact upon society in the end, by allowing for quick and effective adaptation in an ever-changing environment.  Perhaps the penultimate, Darwinian evolution is taking place before our very eyes:  cognitive adaptation, where those who fail to change quickly and with each altering circumstance be able to parallel the change, will fail to survive in this high-paced, technological society.  The multiple “perhaps”, of course, still leave a healthy doubt; culture, stability, sameness — there are positive things to be said about the “old” ways.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether it is under FERS or CSRS, the most difficult step for the Federal or Postal employee is to recognize and adapt to the change which will occur, does occur — and must occur.

The old habit of thinking that one’s career with the Federal government, or the U.S. Postal Service, necessarily means a lifetime of commitment, must alter; the paradigm which one walked around with, that a single career in life marked one’s character of commitment and stability, needs to be transformed.  For, ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for a new beginning:  of having that rehabilitative period to take care of one’s medical conditions, while concurrently allowing for contemplation of a second, albeit different, type of vocation for the future.

Whatever one’s age, Federal Disability Retirement has the potential for a brighter tomorrow.  It is a benefit which can allow for a new beginning, and once taken, the Federal or Postal employee will perhaps see that the old ways weren’t so attractive after all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Career-ending Event

One often reads and hears about a traumatic injury which suddenly and unpredictably ends the career of a certain sports figure.  Such stories evoke sentiments of empathy, for the potential which was never entirely fulfilled, and for the personal tragedy which befalls the individual, the family, and those who admired the talent which failed to reveal its fullness.  

But in everyday life, such tragedies occur in less spectacular ways; perhaps not as sudden and unexpected incidents or injuries as to bifurcate between the day before and the day after; rather, through a chronicity of time, over months and years of struggling, until a day comes when one must admit to one’s self that the chosen career-path must be reevaluated.  

The trauma of the life-changing event is no less significant to the Federal or Postal Worker than to a star NBA, NFL or NHL player.  For the Federal or Postal worker who has worked diligently, if not quietly and unassumingly, in the chosen career path — a recognition that his or her medical condition will no longer allow continuation in the vocation, has the identical reverberations as those more notably identified, in terms of financial, economic, personal and professional significance, relevance and impact.  

In fact, sometimes even more so — because one never witnesses the long and arduous struggle for the months and years prior to making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, through the “quiet years” of using Sick Leave sparingly; of trying to maintain a semblance of competence and work-completion in the face of medical conditions which are never told, never spoken of, and never acknowledged.  

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel management, is tantamount to that “traumatic injury”; it’s just that such an event is rarely, if ever, written about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Milestones

The expanded meaning of a “milestone” encompasses events of personal successes, where the capacity of the human will exceeds an expectation of what one thought one could do.  In its original and mundane conceptual history, a milestone was merely one in a series of numerical markers designating and identifying distance.  

For the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to endure a medical condition, a “milestone” can often be a period of time in which to reach; a three-day weekend to survive; a date on a calendar to arrive at, surpass, and continue to endure.  But while such milestones may provide a focal point to reach, the reality is that it is merely a representation on a linear continuum of days, weeks, months — until the years come and go.  

Federal Disability Retirement is an option to consider for those Federal and Postal workers who are suffering from a chronic medical condition, where such milestones may be deemed irrelevant by allowing for a life of recuperative days.  

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is in itself a milestone of sorts.  It is a recognition that there is, and can be, life beyond the federal sector; that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s particular kind of job; but, moreover, one can expect to find another vocation which may not be impacted as severely by one’s medical conditions.

Passing a milestone may be a positive step; using the milestone as a basis for a better future is more than a positive step — it is a step to secure one’s future, especially for the injured and sick Federal worker who may need to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Government Disability Retirement: Another Year Passing

Because the administrative process of preparing, formulating, and filing — then waiting for a decision — a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, can take several months for the Initial Stage of the bureaucratic procedure alone, it is important to plan ahead for the future.  

New Year’s eve, for Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, is merely a reminder that another year has passed.  For those waiting for a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is another indicator of the frustrating wait which the potential Federal or Postal annuitant has been through, is going through, and must still endure.  And this is only for the “First Stage” of the process.  

The waiting time is extended if the Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Stage, and must be appealed to the Second Stage of the process, or what is identified as the Reconsideration Stage of the process.  Then, of course, if it is denied by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at the Second Stage, one has a right to appeal the case to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Waiting is a necessary part of the administrative, bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Filing soon after one has recognized that one’s medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, is the only “cure” for the long wait. As with everything else, it is better to get in ahead of the line, and have someone help you with the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Embracing Progress toward Better Conditions

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is indeed based upon a progressive paradigm.  It not only recognizes that an individual may be disabled from a particular kind of job; but, moreover, it allows and encourages the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future, and to seek a way of starting a new vocation in a different field, without penalizing the former Federal or Postal employee by taking away the Federal disability annuity.

There are maximum limits to the paradigm — such as the ceiling of earning up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays. But to be able to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, while at the same time retaining the ability to continue to receive the disability annuity, is far different than the paradigm presented under SSDI or OWCP.

Further, because there is a recognition that one’s medical disability is narrowly construed to one’s Federal or Postal position, or any similar job, the restrictions placed upon the “type” of job a Federal or Postal annuitant may seek, is fairly liberally defined.  Yes, both types of positions should not require the identical physical demands if such demands impact the same anatomical basis upon which one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits were approved for; but, even in such circumstances, one has the right to argue that the extent of repetitive work, if qualitatively differentiated, may allow for a similar position in the private sector.

Compare that to OWCP, where one cannot work at any other job while receiving temporary total disability benefits from the Department of Labor.  Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future; and that, in and of itself, is worth its weight in gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Progressive Paradigm

Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement is one of the most progressive paradigms designed — for, as a compensatory program, it not only allows for, but encourages, the Federal or Postal worker to become a self-paying entity by working at another job, a new vocation, a different career, etc, after being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, thereby allocating taxes in order to pay for the annuity itself.

The fact that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may sometimes and randomly inquire as to the continuing disability status of the (former) Federal or Postal employee, or require an annual check upon the previous year’s income earnings in order to determine if the individual has exceeded the allowable ceiling of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, is a fairly easy threshold to meet.

Because the focus is upon the particular kind of job which the Federal or Postal employee had previously engaged in, it is natural that any job which the (former) Federal or Postal employee would seek and obtain, would have some qualitative and substantive differences from the Federal or Postal job.

At the same time, however, the skills which the Federal or Postal worker obtained and applied while working for the Federal government, need not be completely abandoned.  There just needs to be a medical justification as to why the individual is able to work in a private-sector job X, as opposed to the Federal job from which he or she medically retired from.

Often, it is a good idea to get the green light from one’s treating doctor, before accepting the private sector job, which would then establish the medical distinctions necessary to justify and answer any future OPM inquiry.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Will to Proceed

Human will is a peculiar element of the entirety one’s being; it is influenced by desire, often forced by the intellect, and goaded and persuaded by one’s perspective of the world.  How one perceives one’s condition; how the world is perceived; how the treatment of one by those around us — can all play a significant role in the will to proceed, how to proceed, when to proceed, etc.  

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is often the clash of influences upon the human will which determines the course of action which the Federal or Postal employee may decide to take.  

Thus, the accurate and proper perception of one’s medical conditions, based upon information gathered from the medical community; the ability to prognosticate the present impact, and future potential limitations, of that information concerning one’s medical condition, upon one’s ability to continue to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job in the Federal sector, or with the U.S. Postal Service; and further, the perception, whether real, skewed or imagined, of the Agency, including one’s supervisor and coworkers, in determining the value, contribution, and capability to perform and accomplish the goals of the department or agency; all of these combined provide the foundation to determine the will to proceed, in what direction, and whether the will — often at a point of fatigue from the constant fight against the medical condition, depleted in energy and diminished in power — should be forced in order to continue to perform in a job clearly impacted by one’s medical conditions, or to will to proceed to prepare, formulate, and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Yes, it is merely a matter of “willing” — but willing to do what?

Proper perception, based upon good advice and counsel, will determine the will to proceed, in what direction, for what cause, and for what purpose.  It may be time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and to continue to expend one’s reserve of energy is a price which may not be worth taking, at the expense of one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: No Need for an Apology

Federal Disability Retirement benefits exist for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, for two primary purposes:  (A)  to allow a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of his or her job, to receive an annuity because of one’s service to the Federal Sector, based upon minimum qualification criteria (18 months of Federal Service under FERS; 5 years under CSRS) and (B) to encourage that Federal or Postal employee to continue to contribute in the private sector, but working at some other job, and begin a “second” career, if possible.

It is not an entitlement; it is a benefit which is progressive in the sense that it recognizes a compassionate need to compensate in return for the many years that the Federal or Postal employee has contributed to the work force, as well as recognizing the intelligent paradigm of encouraging continuing contribution in a different career path.  Most Federal and Postal employees do not “want” to file for, or become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

It is not a “choice”.  Rather, most Federal and Postal employees, after many, many years of service, have come to a point of recognition in both the extent, severity and chronicity of their medical conditions, as well as the progressively deteriorating impact upon his or her ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job, that continuing in the same daily struggle with life is inconsistent with retention and continuation in the Federal Service.

It is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package that one signed onto when one became a Federal or Postal employee.  No apologies are needed to file for the medical benefit; it is merely the consummation of a contract, agreed to and signed for at the beginning of one’s career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Moving Beyond

Once a decision has been made to begin preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, then the mechanical aspects of gathering and compiling the evidence to make one’s paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management must begin.

It can be a daunting process.  However, it is overcoming the initial timidity which is the first step.  The compilation of the proper medical narrative reports with the effective wording and nexus between the medical condition and essential elements of one’s job; the creation of a narrative word picture of one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability; any legal arguments to be presented and cited; the remainder of the Standard Forms to be completed by the Agency; the insurance forms — one can easily get lost in the morass of such paperwork.  

Then, there is the “waiting period” — that long and anxiety-stricken time of waiting for the Office of Personnel Management to makes its decision at the Initial Stage, and if denied, at the Reconsideration Stage of the process; and, if denied a second time, an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

It is during the “waiting period” that one must begin to think about the period “beyond” — that time when one becomes a Federal Disability Retiree, where one finally has the proper time to attend to one’s medical conditions, then to rethink in terms of another job, another career, another phase of life.  It is the time to think about “moving beyond” one’s self-perception and paradigm of self-conception of being a “Federal employee”, and instead to think of the re-created self in new and fresh terms.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Health

As we begin preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holidays, then into Christmas & New Year’s, it is well to pause and consider those things which we often take for granted, but which form the foundation of a productive life and career.  Health is indeed one of those “things” which are taken for granted.  It is somewhat like automobile insurance:  one never thinks about it, until one gets into an accident.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, health often becomes an issue with greater and increasing focal emphasis, precisely because the corresponding ratio between “effort expended” and “result obtained” becomes out of balance, where the chronicity of pain, discomfort, and inability to physically or cognitively engage in certain duties or activities, becomes pronounced the more one attempts greater efforts.  

What to do?  Preparatory work in setting the foundation for a successful future formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application begins with a good doctor-patient relationship.  It is often a good idea to begin to confide in one’s treating doctor, for that is the basis of a future formulation in considering a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire