Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Cocoons

A cocoon both insulates and protects; it allows for the entity inside to feel a sense of security, and provides a veil which prevents “outsiders” from seeing in.  Homes for humans provide a cocoon; thoughts hidden in the recesses of one’s mind constitute a metaphorical cocoon of sorts; and the conscious and deliberate covering up of a medical condition will allow for a temporary preservation of one’s privacy, until such time as manifestation of symptoms can no longer be concealed.

For a time, temporary measures can be effective:  writing short notes to oneself can compensate for short-term memory problems; taking leave in targeted ways, allowing for 3-day weekends so that one may have the recuperative period in order to recover from impending exhaustion and profound fatigue can alleviate and be a palliative measure; timing the ingestion of pain medications and other prescribed treatment modalities can insulate and provide the cocoon-like security of privacy.  But in the end, the progressively deteriorating medical condition will often require a choice; for, even the inhabitant of the cocoon must leave the relative security of the insulation at some point, or perish by remaining.

For Federal or Postal employees needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the choice to take the steps necessary to begin the process will often be delayed so long as the cocoon can be maintained. Waiting too long, however, can have detrimental reverberations.

Look at the insect world; they offer greater wisdom than what we give them credit for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Moving beyond the Stagnant Waters of OWCP

“Is it possible…” is an impossible question to answer.  For, the conceptual distinction between that which is possible, as opposed to probable, is one which reveals the chasm between the world of fantasy and one of reality.  The world of the “possible” is unconstrained and unbounded; the world of probable occurrences may be fenced in by statistical constructs, actual circumstances, and real-world experiences.

While it is possible to stay on OWCP for a long duration, it is also probable that OWCP will cut off one’s benefits at some future, undetermined and unexpected time.  Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who is on, has been on, or even is contemplating filing for, OWCP/FECA benefits because of a work-related injury, the benefit itself is attractive enough to remain on the rolls of OWCP until such time as (A) the Federal or Postal employee can return back to work, (B) the Federal or Postal Worker is deemed recovered, and the OWCP benefits are cut off, or (C) the Federal or Postal Worker decides to “move on” in life.

The first two choices are essentially out of the arena of “control” of the Federal or Postal employee, for one cannot determine or expedite the recovery period of a medical condition, and further, only the doctor (or its surrogate, the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) can determine whether or not the Federal or Postal work is now recovered.  As for the last choice, however, it is the Federal or Postal worker who can make the determination — especially if one has already gotten an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

OWCP is not a retirement system; one cannot work at another job while on OWCP; one must sit and do what the OWCP case worker tells you to do.  It is only with Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, that one can actually engage in another, alternative vocation or career, and begin to move on in life, and become released from the stagnant waters of a constraining medical condition — or that of OWCP.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OWCP Payments & FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement

There are many Federal and Postal workers who have been receiving OWCP payments (Temporary Total Disability benefits) for years.  Such payments can, indeed, continue for many years, or for a few months, depending upon the length of time it may take for a medical condition to persist.  

The problem with relying upon OWCP as a retirement system is that, strictly speaking, it is not a retirement system.  The Department of Labor can begin the process of sending the benefit recipient to a “Second Opinion” doctor, and the process of attempting to cut off OWCP benefits has thus begun.  

Further, there is often the problem of reliance upon OWCP, resulting in a Federal or Postal worker failing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service.  This sometimes happens because the Federal or Postal Worker begins to feel secure in the monthly OWCP benefit, and because it pays a higher rate than FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement benefits.  However, one should never be fooled by the tenuous nature of OWCP — it is not meant to be a retirement system, and most Federal and Postal workers who have experienced first-hand the treatment by OWCP/DOL will attest to the fact that they can be sudden, arbitrary, and difficult to deal with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire