How much OPM Disability Retirement Pays?

“What will the benefit pay?”  That is often the primary concern of a Federal or Postal employee who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and it is certainly a valid first question.

The greater concern that cannot be overlooked, however, is the one that involves calculating the cost of NOT filing.  In the end, those Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have three fundamental options: Stay put; resign and do nothing (or wait for termination/separation proceedings to occur, which amounts to the same thing); or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

The benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is quite simply calculated as 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year (offset by 100% of any Social Security Disability benefits received during the concurrent payments received) and 40% of the average every year thereafter (offset by 60% of any Social Security Disability payments received during those years), until age 62, at which point the Federal Disability annuity is recalculated as “regular retirement” based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that the disability retiree has been on Federal Disability Retirement.

Thus, the “greater” benefit in calculating the cost has to take into account the fact that one is actually “building up” one’s own retirement by the years one stays on disability retirement — for, those very years that you are receiving a disability retirement annuity count towards the total number of years of Federal Service when it is recalculated as “regular” retirement at the age of 62.

Yes, it is true that on the cost/benefit ledger that one should review before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, you need to take into account the lesser income and the lengthy bureaucratic process that must be engaged, but you should also never forget what the originating basis for considering such filing compelled the consideration in the first place: Your health.

Calculating the cost of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits too often places the emphasis on what is lost — in terms of monetary gain and loss, etc.  But in calculating the cost of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted and considered to and by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the primary issue involves one’s deteriorating health and whether you can continue to remain in a job which has clearly become inconsistent with the medical conditions one is suffering from.

In the end, calculating the cost must go beyond the lessening of income; it must calculate the cost of one’s health, which is the single greatest asset one possesses.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Unwillingness

What is it about a personality that is unwilling?  Is it pure obstinacy?  Or, perhaps a personality trait of stubbornness that goes against the very nature of a person’s essence?  Such traits or quirks of personalities are interesting, precisely because they can fluctuate depending upon the particular context encountered.

Take, for example, an important conference where negotiations are occurring — say, in the settlement of a lawsuit or the consequential merger of two giant companies, etc.  If one of the principals in the negotiations has a reputation of “unwillingness” to compromise, or during the course of back-and-forth give and takes, it becomes apparent that the chief negotiator is unwilling to move an inch, we say of the person that either his (or her) unwillingness to reach a common accord is X or Y — i.e., tenacious to certain unmovable principles; stubborn; intractable; a “brilliant” tactical negotiator, etc.

Now, take the same example but with an individual who is willing to bend and allow for concessions — we might say of that person that he or she is “reasonable”, or that he is a wimp or she is without integrity.

But “unwillingness” has a special characteristic and connotation, does it not, from the rest of the personality traits described?  Especially if it is a permanent feature of a person’s makeup, and not merely a temporary, stubborn streak that may change and alter later on, or in a week, or in an hour’s time.

There is both something admirable as well as exasperating when referring to a person who has a personality characteristic of “unwillingness” — whether based upon an inner principle that drives the intractable nature, or perhaps a quirkiness of nature that refuses change.  The test of that unwillingness, and whether it is apparent only in certain particular and unique circumstances, or whether that is a permanent feature of a person’s internal mechanism, can only be tested through the spectrum of one’s life.  Such a personality trait can be admirable and reflect an evolutionary advantage in surviving the encounters with the world at large, or they can be a self-inflicting wound that can destroy and defeat.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have an unwillingness to throw in the proverbial white towel despite all evidence that shows that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the alternative one must face can be daunting: continuing to endure the medical condition despite the debilitating nature of the trauma; the increasing harassment that must be faced because of excessive taking of Sick Leave, Annual Leave or LWOP; the the questioning looks from Supervisors, managers and coworkers, etc.

Federal Disability Retirement, of course, is an alternative course of action — of recognizing the need for change, the requirement of pliability, and the necessity for modification in one’s life.

Yes, “unwillingness” is often an admirable trait to cling to, but for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it can be an obstacle to a necessary next step in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Employee Disability Retirement: Fathoms and farthings

They are words seldom used by ordinary people, and are instead found within contexts now of limited usage except by reference to anachronistic novels and reference manuals, or perhaps in sea-faring settings where such terms are related to between seasoned old-timers in the field.

The former term refers to the unit of measurement for the depth of the ocean’s topography; the latter, a unit of currency so small as to have become obsolete by now with the inflationary course of history having relegated such amounts to irrelevancy, and ceasing to be recognized as legal tender by 1960.  Besides, it was a “foreign” currency as well, and was not a currency used in current usage within recognizable current vintage, anyway (yes, yes, a bad attempt at alliteration and a play on words).

What do they have in common?  They both measure a unit of X, of course; they are also words that have “meaning” only within certain contexts, whether of specialized oceanographic particularization or, as to the latter, within a historical context if one were writing a play, screenplay, novel or short story that included anywhere from the Victorian to the Elizabethan periods.  It is a reminder to us all that words come in and out of “meaning” and relevance based upon the context given and recognized.

Language games”, as the term Wittgenstein ascribed, retain their relevance and applicability depending upon the context of the usage adopted.

It is no different when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal or Postal employee, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Suddenly, the Federal or Postal employee is thrown into a “language game” that has been ongoing for decades, but is new to the Federal or Postal employee who must prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Such terms as “The Bruner Presumption”, “viable accommodation attempts”, “Persuasive legal effect of other disability ratings,” etc., come into play.  Yes, you may be able to research and understand some of the terms, but the particularization and the anachronism of such terms may come back to haunt you unless you, as the Federal or Postal employee trying to submit an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, can fully comprehend the specialized nature of this complex process called Federal Disability Retirement.

For, like fathoms and farthings, it may be best to consult an attorney who has a long experience with such terms and usage in order to better heighten the chances of a First Stage Approval from OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Other worlds

We can imagine other worlds in which things are different; science fiction does it all the time, and even traditional literary fiction – though the differentiation between “science fiction” and “regular fiction” can often be lost in esoteric and academic ways – can depict other worlds not quite familiar, though recognizable enough to keep it apart from fantasy or that of the bizarre.

We can imagine, for instance, a world in which a pot of water sits upon a burning stove, but the pot never boils because the heat from the burner never transfers its element to the water; and so the isolation of each entity remains unmoved, as each fails to influence the other.  Or, that rain falls, but nothing gets wet.  What about people?  Of a persons who talks and talks and everyone hears, but no impact results.  You say to your friend, “A skunk has climbed up on top of your head,” and the friend responds, “Yes, thank you,” but does nothing and goes on with his or her life.

It would be a universe where we are consumed and subsumed within the universe of our own thoughts, and the world around us remains separate, isolated and without influence upon entities remaining placid, implacable, undisturbed and without any capacity to embrace the causality of an effect that remains otherwise unperturbed.

Come to think of it, that somewhat describes the world we actually live in, doesn’t it?  It started out as some science fiction genre – other worlds – and yet the universe that was described, of a world where people talk and no one listens, others hurt and no one helps, and the gravitational pull remains isolated to the planets within a galaxy, but never extending beyond to the human lives that populate this earth.  Isn’t that what occurs in this world, today?

People lie to themselves thinking that they have hundreds of “friends”, and yet sit alone in an apartment staring at a glowing piece of machine called a computer, and converse quietly on Facebook and through other social media outlets, yet never say a word; and the “conversations” on the medium are merely a series of rants and raves, and at the end of the late evening, everyone goes home.  People live with great wealth – of extravagance of living never seen heretofore in this or any other universe – while others barely make a living; and the impact felt moves not a teardrop or a sigh of resignation.

Federal and Postal employees live in such a universe, especially when a medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of his or her Federal or Postal position.  The agency doesn’t care; the postal facility is indifferent; no one says, “Ah, we need to do everything to help you out so that you can get better!”  Instead, we rely upon quiet laws to be enforced, so that our “rights” can be protected and compelled.

Other worlds are not mere fantasies that we dream up; and for the Federal or Postal employee who must take the next step in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, welcome to the bizarre universe of an administrative process that cares little about injured or hurting people, but one in which the cold bureaucracy of laws and rights must be enforced in order to assert that which remains unmovable in the face of a medical condition that won’t go away.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Biding time

Inmates in correctional facilities do it; criminals in wait; patients in doctor’s offices who have been informed that there will be a short delay because of an emergency procedure that the physician had to attend to; and most of us in general who live life anticipating disasters, tomorrow’s unfortunate events or the next day’s calamity to come.

We all bide our time in living our lives, and it is the time of biding that is wasted away until, near our deathbed, the expected outcome of disaster never came, the calamity never developed and the corrosion of life never materialized.  It is one thing to wait on another person; another altogether to engage in the patient virtue of sitting motionless or passing the time away in anticipation of something beyond; it is quite another, and perhaps unique, that human beings actually actively engage in the activity of “biding time” in order to start a process.

Vengeance often takes biding of time; planning for a future definitely requires biding time; and old men and women in nursing homes have nothing better to do than to bide one’s time.  To live life biding time, even at the horizon of one’s twilight in elder states of despair, is no way to exist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of, have already begun the procedural steps to, or otherwise are in the middle of the administrative process of preparing, formulating or filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to “biding time” during this complex administrative process is to have “a plan”.

It is a long, arduous, difficult and time-consuming process.  Even after it is successfully filed, the time waiting upon a decision just at the First Stage of the administrative process can now take a very, very long time, and how one plans to bide one’s time during this long process is something one needs to consider.

Will you remain on LWOP during this time?  Will you resign, get terminated, and will you work at a private-sector job while waiting for OPM’s decision?  Will temporary loss of health insurance be a consideration?  If it is denied at the Initial Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, will that mean that you can endure the lengthy second Stage, the Reconsideration Stage?  And if you have to go and have a Telephonic Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which will take a minimum of 120 days beyond, will that still be within the plan of attack in biding time?

Hopefully, one’s Federal Disability Retirement filing with OPM will go smoothly; but in the event that all of the proverbial bumps on the road are encountered in your particular journey, it is important to consider the extent of biding time during the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Habit

No, this is not about that peculiar creature that Tolkien created who used to rule the earth but now hides in little dirt hutches in the deep recesses of forests (don’t all children and adults who have read his works believe in their heart of hearts that Hobbits still exist, and we just don’t see them?); rather, this, too, is a creature of sorts, just not the imaginary creation that gave joy to so many.

How is it that we come to learn it?  Is there a numerical value that must be first ascribed before the regularity of X becomes a Habit-Y?  What constitutes a definition of the repetition, and how is it learned, as opposed to unlearning certain types of constancies?  Is there a numerical value that further transforms a habit into an obsession, and where is the dividing line and what demarcates the distinction we thus impose?

If a dog, each morning upon the awakening by an alarm clock set by his master, rolls onto his back and waits until he gets a nice tummy-rub, and never deters or detours from such a habit, can he, too, unlearn it?  Is a habit, moreover, merely a settled tendency, such that the rest of those around may expect it to occur, but when it does not, is not necessarily a surprise or a disappointment, but a mere reliance that “normally” occurs but is not mandated by a turn to another direction?  When the expectation does not come to fruition, do we simply say, “Well, normally it is his habit, but perhaps he changed his mind”?

Kant, for instance, was known to take his walk at a specific time, and it was said of him that the townspeople set their watches against his daily routine and habit.  Does not that sound more like an obsession?  Is the difference one where there is greater ease to “break” the regularity, whereas an obsession is where such a tendency cannot, and is no longer a “voluntary” act?

Additionally, is there a difference with a distinction between a “habit”, a “ritual” and an “obsession”?  Or, is there no clear line of bifurcation (or is it “trifurcation”?), but the lines can cross over easily – as in, when we engage in a habit, sometimes there are rituals that are performed – washing one’s hands in the same way as always; combing one’s hair a set number of strokes; skipping over a particular crack in the sidewalk on the way home; and are rituals merely of greater intensity with obsession than with a habit?

And what of necessities that arise?  Such as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for Federal and Postal employees – do people not file because their “habits” are entrenched in a belief-system that one must just “buck up” and ignore the warning signs of a medical condition that continues to deteriorate and progressively debilitate?  When do habits stand in the way of doing that which is “reasonable” under the circumstances?

Here is a thought: For Federal and Postal employees suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, let not habit become an obsession, and instead, allow for the rituals of life to free you from the habitual obsession of ritualistic redundancy, and instead, begin preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The negative of a photograph

In this digital age, the disappearance of the negative in photography is quite appropriate; for, this is an age that has attempted to expunge everything negative, both in form and in substance.  That thin strip of plastic film that was always retained, and carefully coupled with the “positive” prints, was preserved with the idea that the more valued sets of prints may become lost, distributed or otherwise disseminated, and in that event, so long as the negative of the original was retained, more could be printed out.

Just before the digital age, there were “do-it-yourself” machines – monstrosities that received the film, processed them and spit out two-prints each; or is that just the faulty memory of this writer? The double-prints were meant to allow for giving of one and keeping the other, just in case grandma or grandpa wanted one of those cute pictures where everyone simultaneous said the universal word: “Cheese!”

Yet, the concept of the negative still retains some fascination, despite its obsolescence in the modernity of the digital age; for, it is the reverse order of reality, where the lightness of images retains the darkness of reflection, and vice versa, because of the chemical sensitivity in processing the film.

And who among us recalls the ghoulish search when we actually did want to get another print made – of searching through various negatives, seeing the hollow images of figures staring back, trying to discern whether multiple negatives that appeared similar but not quite the same could be the one, by matching the angle of the face, the tilt of the head, or some mysterious figure in the background not shown in the original?

Have we all had that experience – where there is something that appears in the negative but not in the print, and attribute it to the ghostly mysteries that somehow and by mistake captured the supernatural world otherwise banished from this day and age?

The romantic world of the unknown has now vanished, along with the negative of a photograph; now, we are left with the virtual reality of a mundane universe, with nothing left for our imaginations.  For, the negative of a photograph is the mystery itself that always spurred us onward and upward, trying always to achieve the next level of accomplishment.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the concept of the negative of a photograph should be quite familiar; for, once upon a time, that image beheld on that strip of plastic was the “real” you, preserved and retained for posterity as the valuable essence of a being otherwise forgotten.

Federal agencies and Postal facilities only care about the print that stays forever in the same pose and manner, unchangeable and forever identical.  The mere fact that a medical condition has “changed” a Federal or Postal employee is somehow rejected by the Federal agency and U.S. Postal Service, and that is why filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes so important.

For, just like the negative of a photograph, it is the medical condition in its negative aspects that always seems to be the sole focus of the Federal or Postal facility in determining the worth of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire