OWCP & FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees

Can both be approved concurrently?  Is there any disadvantage in filing for one “as opposed” to another?  Do they “cross over” and impact one another?  Can you receive payments concurrently, or must you choose one over the other and, if one is chosen, does it “negate” or otherwise dismiss the other?

These are all practical questions which can come about if an injury or illness results from a workplace incident or caused by an occupational hazard.  First and foremost, it should be noted that the two “pockets” of compensatory resources are different in nature: OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM Disability Retirement is. OWCP is a compensatory resource created and established as a temporary measure (although there are many, many cases where an OWCP recipient stays on and receives compensation for decades and beyond) — as a means of allowing the Federal worker to receive treatment, recuperation and rehabilitation, with a view towards an eventual return to work.

The paradigm of a FERS Federal Disability Retirement, on the other hand, is just that: It is a retirement system — essentially, starting your retirement “early” because of a medical condition or injury resulting in one’s loss of capacity to continue to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  The latter (FERS Disability Retirement) does not have to possess any causal connection to the employment itself — in other words, the medical condition or injury does not have to be “occupationally related” in order for a Federal or Postal worker to become eligible for its benefits.

Remember, however, that under a FERS Disability Retirement, a Federal or Postal worker must file for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of being separated from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  The fact that a person has been “placed on the rolls of OWCP” does not excuse the 1-year rule for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For further information on the intersection between OWCP and FERS Disability Retirement, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both, and make your decision upon factual and legal information, and not from such sources as, “I heard from Joe that…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Preparing a Seamless Application

Is it possible?  When two fabrics are sewn together, it is almost always the case that a seam will appear; but it is the expert seamstress who has the knowledge of the proper stitch, the “tricks of the trade” and the technical knowledge in order to make it appear as if the boundary doesn’t exist, so that the two foreign bodies mesh and meld into one.  There may be multiple seams in creating a piece of clothing; where the sleeves meet; the attachment of the pockets; or, for style’s sake, sometimes the seams are meant to show.

This is true of almost any process which involves the combining of materials, people, organizations and differing entities — the “seams” must be sewn in order to become a combined but single body; the question is whether there will remain a weakness in the seam, to what extent the seam will show, and how strong the seam will be.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the key to preparing a seamless application will depend upon the proper analysis, evaluation and coordination of the various elements involved in the process itself.  The medical evidence to gather; the relevant information to include; the legal arguments to be made; the nexus between the medical condition and the essential elements of the position — these all must be brought together by the expert hands of the “tailor” who knows the “stitches” to apply.

Consult with an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in preparing as seamless an application as possible.  For, it is the expert tailor who has the knowledge and expertise to make both the process and the substance as a seamless entity, and that is the key to a successful outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Choices and Regrets

The two go hand-in-hand, although we may not necessarily see them as unalterable couplets forever ensconced and inseparable. Instead, we often make choices, then afterwards, express our regrets without having learned from the process of “choice-making”.

Choices available are often unanalyzed and nebulous; left to appear, remain inert and ignored; the “active” part of a “choice” is when we engage in the act of “choice-making” — of engaging our minds with an inactive but available “something” — a choice there, but lifeless until the activation of our choosing invigorates the inertia of indecision.

Regrets, on the other hand, are comprised by the dust of past choices made. Once settled, they remain in the hidden caverns of forgotten memories until, one day or hour, or moment of quietude when we have the time to reflect back, the unsettling of the dust collected is stirred and rises from the ashes, like the mythological Phoenix that appears with wings spread and ready for flight into our imagination and stabbing at the vulnerabilities of our inner soul.

We regret that which we have chosen; and like the past that haunts, such regrets are ever so painful when once we recall the choices available and the ones we made.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job and position, the next steps taken — of choices being made in whether and how to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — are important in determining whether regrets will follow.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest the choices to be made will result in regrets later recalled; for in the end, it is the choices that determine the future course of success, and not the regrets that harken back the past of lost opportunities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Boundaries

We set them for a reason: To prevent future conflicts; to establish clearly when trespasses occur; to allow for the maintenance of compartmentalization in order to preempt overlapping potential conflicts; to teach societal conventions in a safe, artificial context; to demarcate the lines of acceptable behavior, etc.

Boundaries are set in law, in conventions, in neighborhoods, communities, nations and continents. Remember when we learned in Geography Class about the various countries and their disputed boundaries?  Or of early lessons where we were told not to cross the street unless a school safety guard bade us forward?  And what of mental boundaries — of not answering the phone after a certain hour; of boundaries that prevent us from working ourselves to death; of not responding to emails after “work hours” (is there such an animal, anymore?), etc.

And those subtle boundaries we all seem to learn — of conventional behaviors acceptable in society, including invisible ones of “personal space”, of declarations in public both allowable and prohibited; and even of eye contact, how much is offensive, to what extent a “look” becomes a “stare”, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may be time to cross the boundaries into considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  Medical conditions themselves have no boundaries, know no boundaries and respect no boundaries.  It becomes all pervasive — crossing into one’s personal life, and disrupting one’s career and work life.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and consider re-establishing those important boundaries that keep in place the lines of sanity necessary for one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Virtual Reality

Say a person says to you, “I was in Japan last night.”  You had just seen him the day before, and so you might quickly calculate how many hours it would take for a flight to Japan, how long he could have stayed there and then flown back; and, perhaps you would unduly confuse yourself by thinking, “Perhaps the time-zone shift is such that yesterday is today and today is actually tomorrow’s today because of the international time-zone shift”, or some similar nonsense as that which often confuses and confounds us all (in fact, isn’t that how we always feel when we must change the clocks for that “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back” period?).

You study the person’s features and determine that he looks refreshed, without a hint of sleeplessness.  Upon coming to the conclusion that, No, it is not possible that your friend had actually gone to Japan and back, you say to him or her: “What do you mean by that?”  The person says, “Just what I said.  I visited Japan last night.  I went on a tour of Kyoto, a couple of shrines, saw the cherry blossoms and had a couple of meals and drank some sake and then went to bed.”  And you take that sliver of an opportunity — that phrase, “I visited” combined with, “then went to bed”, and with suspicious deliciousness as of a genius private detective who has singularly uncovered a mystery, declare: “Aha! You mean you were on your computer and took a virtual tour of the country!”  To which your friend says: “You can put it that way.  I say that I was in Japan last night.”

In this world where virtual reality and reality itself has been conflated, the words we use have similarly broken out of their previous state of rigidity.  Whether of “alternative truths” or misstatement of facts, the malleability of language has had to adapt and conform to the changes of reality.  Is there a distinction with a difference between a person who takes a “virtual tour” of a country, as opposed to actually, physically flying there and walking about the lost ruins of Peru?  To the question, “So, did you visit the Sistine Chapel while there?” — both and either may provide a detailed description of their independent and individual experiences, and do so convincingly; and even to the question, “Were you really there?” — the answer can be identical and yet truthful.

Yet, there are some things in life that still defy conflating virtual reality with the “real” reality — such as medical conditions.  For, “virtual” pain and “virtual” medical conditions do not impact the identical experiential phenomena of the “real deal”, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a real medical condition such that the reality of that condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, you may want to consider filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS .

Before you do that, however, consult with a “real” Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer, lest a “virtual” one provides you only with virtual advice, in which case it won’t be worth any more than a virtual dollar used to pay for a virtual meal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Our Collective Responsibilities

Is it a redundancy to place “our” before the “collective”?  Or, inasmuch as “our” can mean 2 or more individuals together, whereas “collective” might imply a more expansive spectrum of diffuse aggregation, that the second word “adds” something to the first?  Do we even have such a thing, and what can it mean in this day and age — of modernity where individuality and uniqueness are banished but where selfishness and the focus upon “me” abounds?

Collectivism is for the masses; for the elite, the garnered wealth and guarded possessions are carefully defined; that is why we give lip-service to capitalism but secretly desire bankruptcy and failure upon the super-wealthy.  Does a community owe us anything?  Do we owe a community our loyalty?

Say a person lives in a “town” of 5000 people — small enough to be called a town but large enough where not everyone knows everyone else by name.  Is there a “sense” of a community, and in such a community, is there an aggregation of a unified social ethos where we help our fellow neighbors out whenever the need arises?  Or, does everyone still spend more time on their Smartphones with virtual “friends” on the other side of the continent?

Workplaces are like small communities; they have all of the ingredients of a small town; of friendships developing and animosities seething; of sadness and gratitude and the entire spectrum of emotional upheavals felt; and yet, the underlying sense if isolation is so prevalent, as in every other community across the globe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, anymore, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS may be the necessary next step.

Don’t think that your coworkers have a sense of “collective responsibilities” in helping you out; nor should you rely upon your Human Resource Office to possess a conscience in assisting you; unfortunately, in this era of collective isolationism, what you will likely find is a collective sense of abandonment where everyone is simply out for his or her own needs, and that is why consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is the first step you should take — to protect your own self-interests, inasmuch as no one else will be looking after your interests in this world were “collective responsibilities” has been abandoned in the name of the greater good of social media.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire