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

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Sports Metaphors

The abundance of metaphors comparing life with sports has pervaded throughout in literature, opinion pieces, articles, etc.  We can relate to sports, because many have been active participants in their youth; continue to engage in it via playing in various adult leagues, or coaching their kids, or perhaps just passively enjoying watching various sports on television, etc.

As a metaphor, it is seen as a “life-lesson”.  It is supposed to teach all aspects of “building character” — of the value of hard work, proper preparation, ethical conduct and behavior, etc.  In pragmatic terms, when one actually plays a sport, it merely becomes a one-to-one adversarial encounter with an opponent, and sometimes teaches merely that the “playing field” is not always level, and the opponent does not always follow the same rules of the game as one is taught to do.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, a comparative metaphor to any sports would be to characterize the entire administrative process as one of the battle between David and Goliath.  The Office of Personnel Management has its own set of rules — of a criteria which is allegedly applied, but which often has limited rational basis; of a time frame within which they say they attempt to meet, but which is systematically ignored; of following rules and regulations as they interpret them, etc.

What would one say about a sport in which one side makes up the rules and then ignores them?  Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is like a professional football team (representing OPM) going against a high school chemistry class deciding to put together a team (the Federal or Postal employee).  The teams are unequal; the playing field is never level; and the outcome of the encounter must therefore be decided by careful preparation, a cohesively formulated plan, and a filing deliberation which results in a compelling total package.

Such is the metaphor with sports:  to prepare, formulate and file — in an effective manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire