Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Once upon a Time

Once upon a time, there were great “causes” for which people fought to live for; evil empires which desired domination and for which the world went to war; liberties denied and suppressed, resulting in meaningful mass protests; and in the microcosm of individual lives, hope for a future and a better tomorrow, for which people married, had families, and strove for stability.

In today’s world, the opposite seems to prevail; the news is replete with trivial reasons to exit life; if one is turned down when a prom invitation is issued, it is a basis for an outrageous reaction; assertions of hurt feelings can be the foundation for court filings declaring a violation of rights; and when a society mandates the importance of rights over courteous behavior, the crumbling of foundational structures is not too far from a once-distant and dark future.

The famous and classic book by Harper Lee encapsulates the contrast of great and small troubles; of a microcosm reflecting larger issues worthy of consideration; but always, there was a sense that tomorrow would bring about a brighter future.  In it, Atticus speaks of the idea that one can never quite understand another unless one walks in his shoes, and looks at things from the other’s perspective.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, such a sense of the world is a well-known commodity.  All of a sudden, one becomes a pariah, when one may have been that shining star just a month before.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for Federal and Postal Workers who seek a brighter tomorrow, and for whom greater causes still exist. That is why the benefit allows for the potential and possibility of the Federal Worker to seek other employment and a second vocation; for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits recognize the worth of the individual, and the fact that there is life after the devastating effects of a medical condition which may end one’s Federal or Postal career.

One may laugh at such notions, or have the cynical view that Federal Disability Retirement is merely one of those benefits for which the Federal government is giving another proverbial “handout”; but the fact is, like Atticus Finch in the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, there is always a brighter future for every generation, no matter the despair one may feel at any given moment in history.

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

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Coming Year

The Calendar says it is now 2013.  For those preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it matters little as to the designation of the year.  A chronic medical condition makes no conceptual distinction from year to year; the impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job is not distinguishable between December 31 or January 1.  

For those who have filed with the Office of Personnel Management, the fact of the waiting period itself merely magnifies — that we are now into “another” year — the lengthy process which the bureaucratic morass forces the Federal or Postal employee to undergo and endure.  The “coming year” is, for the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, a continuum of the previous year.  It is not the days immediately before, or just after, which makes a difference.  Rather, it is ultimately the approval from the Office of Personnel Management which will make all the difference.  

To appreciate that “difference”, the best that the Federal or Postal employee seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits can do, is to:  increase the chances of an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application; limit the mistakes which can subvert or otherwise damage a Federal Disability Retirement application; and always, always affirmatively prove one’s case with the best evidence possible.  That way, the coming year will have turned out to be a fruitful one, and distinguishable from the previous year.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Respite and Reflection

Sometimes, it is a positive thing to have a period of respite, in order to engage in a reflective mode of thought.  The “to-do list” is always extensive and pressing; the need to advance, to accomplish, and to complete the pending projects is always in the foreground; but a period of respite and reflection — a pause in the action of life — is a welcomed break.

For those Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often merely an extra day in which to recuperate one’s energies in order to go back to work.  If the Federal or Postal employee finds that the period of a few days off are merely a palliative form of treatment in order to drag one’s self back to the identical state of affairs at one’s Federal position — whether because of chronic pain, or profound, overwhelming fatigue; or perhaps an intractable state of cognitive decline and depression — it is probably time to think about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

One can “fight the good fight” only for so long.

At some point, the coalescence of the medical condition, the limitation of human capacity, and the self-destructiveness of continuing in a position which is detrimental to one’s health, will come to fruition.  Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is perhaps what one should reflect upon during the respite of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Upon a Signpost

In lectures and speeches, a “signpost” is a linguistic device used to reveal to the listener what direction the talk is about to take.  In everyday life, there are similar signposts which one provides, and which others provide to the recipient.  The problem is normally not that there does not exist a signpost; rather, the difficulties normally follow upon the inability of the individual to recognize such signposts.  One can ignore such signposts and continue to forge forward, or one can attempt to identify it, evaluate it, then make the best possible judgment, concurrently preparing for the progressive developments which will ensue as more and more signposts are forthcoming.

In preparing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the identification and action upon a signpost is essentially what one does.  The signpost constitutes the medical condition and the progressive impact of that medical condition upon the ability or inability of a Federal or Postal worker to continue in a particular kind of job.  It tells the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a particular medical condition, as to the direction which (A) will be forced upon the Federal or Postal employee (B) the Federal or Postal employee is encouraged to start to undertake, or (C) the Federal or Postal employee should/must take.

The identification of the appropriate direction is entirely dependent upon the stage and current status of the medical condition, and its present impact upon the Federal or Postal employee.  One can certainly have a fourth option:  to ignore the signpost.  But to ignore the signpost is to merely delay the inevitable, and to progressively limit and narrow the options available.

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, one ignores such signposts at one’s peril.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Projecting Forward

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS (while the statutory references and case-laws applying to each retirement system may be different, the basic substantive laws governing each are essentially identical), it is important always to project forward, to prepare for the eventuality, and to consider the options so that events don’t take control, as opposed to the Federal or Postal Worker (to the extent possible) maintaining control of the present and future events as they unfold, with the multiple and varied contingencies which can reasonably be predicted.  

For instance, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management, the rate of annuity compensation begins at 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service.  That first year, then, should be looked upon as a “transition” period for the Federal or Postal worker — with the full knowledge that in the following and subsequent years, the annuity will drop down to (and remain until age 62, when the disability retirement annuity becomes recalculated and converted administratively into a regular retirement, based upon the total number of years of Federal service, including the time on Federal Disability Retirement) to 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay.  

That being said, viewing the first year of annuity payments as a “transition” year means that one should be projecting forward as to what one will do in the following and subsequent years.  What kind of work will one do?  How will you make up the difference and reduction in annuity payments?  What preparations are or will be made for the reduction?  Will supplemental income be needed?  Will it be part-time or full-time?  What is the maximum allowable earned income which one can receive?  These are all transition questions which are important in planning for the projected future, forward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Happy New Year

For many people, celebrating the “New Year” often encapsulates a parallel time of reflection, of resolutions for change and improvement, etc.  For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, this is a good time to take a personal inventory of one’s future goals, assessing the viability of continuation in one’s position as a Federal or Postal employee, and seeking clarity for future plans and career goals. 

Federal Disability Retirement is simply an option to be considered, if one is finding that one’s medical conditions — whether physical, psychiatric, or a combination of both which exacerbate and feed onto each other — are impacting one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  Whether in a sedentary administrative, cognitive-intensive position, or mostly a physically demanding job, or even a combination of both, if a Federal or Postal employee is finding that continuation with the essential elements of one’s job is becoming an impossibility, then Federal Disability Retirement is certainly an option to be considered

Celebrating the “New Year” should always include taking an inventory for the future.  For Federal and Postal employees under either FERS or CSRS, considering the option of formulating, preparing, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application should be part of that equation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire