Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Choices Left

Options presented imply the availability of alternative picks; but such choices are real ones only if they don’t magically disappear when asserting one over another.

By analogy, Agencies in a Federal Disability Retirement case may claim that all sorts of accommodations have been attempted and provided; but if an ergonomic chair has been given to an administrative worker who suffers from psychiatric conditions which impact one’s focus, concentration, and cognitive capacities, the irreconcilable lack of correspondence between the attempted aid and the medical condition suffered, amounts to an ineffective attempt at accommodations at best, and at worst, a cruel joke.

But as Agencies enjoy patting themselves on the proverbial back, so statistically they can claim that 99.9% of their employees have been accommodated; it just so happens that either the Federal or Postal employees failed to take advantage of such empathetic attempts by the agency, or were not able to appreciate the full extent of such angelic endeavors.

Many medical conditions, of course, are unresponsive to any such attempts of accommodations, precisely because of the very nature, extent and severity of the conditions themselves.  This leaves one with the only choice left:  to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why the benefit was enacted; as such, there should be no reason why agencies should attempt to subvert or otherwise place obstacles in the quest for a goal which was intended to accommodate such non-accommodatable circumstances.  But then, the test of sincerity is not mere words, which can come cheaply, but through actions, which can result in a stark reality-check.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Paradigm Shifts

One of Thomas Kuhn’s major works, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, provides an excellent historical analysis, as well as a philosophical proposal, of how science works — not in a progressive linear fashion as one would expect and anticipate, but rather in erratic paradigm shifts based upon pragmatic considerations of that which works, replacing outmoded or unworkable models of inefficiency.

The book itself is instructive on how, in a macro sense, the scientific community, with all of its fallibilities, works with fits and starts; in a micro perspective, it is profoundly revelatory on how individual human beings operate in this world.  We all carry around paradigms; of who we are; what role we play in our family, our greater community, and in the historicity of our involvement.

Often, however, the outside world, through all of its influences and mandates, will force a change of our internal paradigm; at other times, we decide in our own volition to alter and tinker with the paradigm.  For Federal or Postal employees who are forced to contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the upheaval of a sudden career change, of a self-realization that one is no longer that youthful, energetic colleague who is efficient and competent, but rather a medically disabled employee, is often a devastating shift in one’s self-image and the paradigm which one carries about within the vast world of empathetic devoid.

Yet such a paradigm shift is necessary.

The good news is that Federal Disability Retirement is itself a paradigm which contemplates future potential for a second vocation; it allows for Federal and Postal employees to obtain an annuity, then to go into the private sector and continue to work, and make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal job currently pays.  Federal Disability Retirement is not a paradigm of “total disability”; it is one based upon a slight amendment to one’s original paradigm, with a view towards a brighter future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A New Beginning, after an Old Ending

Whether it is old age which makes for intransigence, or whether it is a lifetime of habitual living which makes for difficulty in changing the course of one’s future, will never be completely answered.

Youth better tends to possess the capacity to adapt and change as the malleability of circumstances confront an individual.  Old age — or those who euphemistically are identified as being “mature” — has the unfortunate effect of being entrenched in the ways of routine and unchanging, repetitive actions.

Perhaps the early requirement of being able to “multi-task” — of performing a variety of bombardments of sensory overloads on smartphones, iPads, computers, etc. — will have a positive impact upon society in the end, by allowing for quick and effective adaptation in an ever-changing environment.  Perhaps the penultimate, Darwinian evolution is taking place before our very eyes:  cognitive adaptation, where those who fail to change quickly and with each altering circumstance be able to parallel the change, will fail to survive in this high-paced, technological society.  The multiple “perhaps”, of course, still leave a healthy doubt; culture, stability, sameness — there are positive things to be said about the “old” ways.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether it is under FERS or CSRS, the most difficult step for the Federal or Postal employee is to recognize and adapt to the change which will occur, does occur — and must occur.

The old habit of thinking that one’s career with the Federal government, or the U.S. Postal Service, necessarily means a lifetime of commitment, must alter; the paradigm which one walked around with, that a single career in life marked one’s character of commitment and stability, needs to be transformed.  For, ultimately, CSRS/FERS Disability Retirement allows for a new beginning:  of having that rehabilitative period to take care of one’s medical conditions, while concurrently allowing for contemplation of a second, albeit different, type of vocation for the future.

Whatever one’s age, CSRS/FERS Disability Retirement has the potential for a brighter tomorrow.  It is a benefit which can allow for a new beginning, and once taken, the Federal or Postal employee will perhaps see that the old ways weren’t so attractive after all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Funeral that Never Was

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, for most Federal and Postal employees, is tantamount to attending one’s own funeral:  the time spent at one’s job constitutes the larger portion of one’s waking life, and to dissociate and sever the ties to an organization comprised of people, coworkers, missions and a daily sense of accomplishment, results in the same sense of finality and irrevocability.

That is why, even for those who have a feeling of elation in being able to “get away” from an agency — whether because it had become a poisoned atmosphere of acrimony and contentiousness; or perhaps one’s own sense of conscientiousness left one with a sense of guilt; whatever the reasons — the filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits means that the struggle to continue on, despite a medical condition which is preventing one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, is coming to an end.

That is why, for Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is psychologically a difficult decision to make.  But it is a necessary decision, in order for one to have that period of recuperative calm, to regain one’s health in order to move on to the next stage in one’s life.

It is difficult to move on precisely because there never was a funeral to attend.  As with a death, others in the community continue in their daily routines after the funeral; the memories fade, and time heals all wounds.

When one departs an agency or the U.S. Postal Service based upon a Federal Disability Retirement, a similar continuum of life occurs; others go on about their business; mean and depraved people seem to linger on the longest. There just never was a funeral to formally declare the date of finality; instead, as with MacArthur’s famous quote:  “They just fade away”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Career-ending Event

One often reads and hears about a traumatic injury which suddenly and unpredictably ends the career of a certain sports figure.  Such stories evoke sentiments of empathy, for the potential which was never entirely fulfilled, and for the personal tragedy which befalls the individual, the family, and those who admired the talent which failed to reveal its fullness.  

But in everyday life, such tragedies occur in less spectacular ways; perhaps not as sudden and unexpected incidents or injuries as to bifurcate between the day before and the day after; rather, through a chronicity of time, over months and years of struggling, until a day comes when one must admit to one’s self that the chosen career-path must be reevaluated.  

The trauma of the life-changing event is no less significant to the Federal or Postal Worker than to a star NBA, NFL or NHL player.  For the Federal or Postal worker who has worked diligently, if not quietly and unassumingly, in the chosen career path — a recognition that his or her medical condition will no longer allow continuation in the vocation, has the identical reverberations as those more notably identified, in terms of financial, economic, personal and professional significance, relevance and impact.  

In fact, sometimes even more so — because one never witnesses the long and arduous struggle for the months and years prior to making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, through the “quiet years” of using Sick Leave sparingly; of trying to maintain a semblance of competence and work-completion in the face of medical conditions which are never told, never spoken of, and never acknowledged.  

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel management, is tantamount to that “traumatic injury”; it’s just that such an event is rarely, if ever, written about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Confronting the Change

The transition from being a Federal or Postal employee to one of a disability retirement annuitant will inevitably spawn questions — not only concerning the process itself, but the impact, response, reaction and collateral events with which an Agency will engage the Federal or Postal employee.

The process itself can never be entered into, or participated in, within a vacuum.  Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a complex decision, and one which involves so many facets — impact upon one’s economic circumstances; the transition to a different career or vocation; the severing of ties to coworkers and supervisors; a change in the way one lives one’s life, etc.

Thus, it is not merely a matter of filing paperwork; it is not just a recognition that one has a medical condition such that you cannot any longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, although that is also a large part of it.  Rather, it involves the emotion, mental, and physical toil and turmoil of “change”.  And, indeed, change itself is a stress; change of any sort means an end of something, and a beginning of something else.

It is often that “something else” — the unknown of the future, which represents and greatest fear and challenge.  But the question one is left with is often:  What choices and alternatives do I have?  Once that question is asked, the road through Federal Disability Retirement often takes an easier path.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire