Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Knowledge of Others

It is often the spouse, or even the unnamed friend, who comes to recognize the need — even before the Federal or Postal employee.  Whether because of the distance between the person and the medical condition, or out of pure empathy, the “other person” knows that it is time to file for FERS Disability Retirement.  When that knowledge is conveyed to the person who actually suffers from the medical condition itself, then it is beyond the point of filing; it is, indeed, time to file.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the truth of the matter is that shirkers are rare, and a premature filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application is rarer still.

Federal and Postal employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits wait until the point at which self-destructive continuation has already passed.  In fact, in many cases, the applicant’s own treating doctor has already repeatedly advised to “change jobs”, “switch careers”, “do something else in life before you really damage yourself“, etc.

That is why there is a (rightful) sense of injustice and unfairness when the agency itself is taken aback, and acts as if there is some nefarious motivation underlying the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application.  However, what is important, as in all matters of importance, is the self-knowledge that it is indeed time, and those who question one’s motive know not what one’s family, friends, and caring “others” have already determined.

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 Disability Retirement: Avoidance of the Close Encounter

Ultimately, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management requires a “setting aside” of a direct encounter with one’s acknowledgment and concession that one has an intractable medical condition which is directly impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  It is to come face to face with the realization that the hard-fought career goals, the years of schooling and education; the overcoming of the inevitable learning curve during one’s youth and inception of a career — are ending not as a result of actualizing one’s dreams and goals, but because of an intermediate cause:  a medical condition.  

The struggle to continue working despite the chronic pain or deteriorating cognitive capabilities is the natural attempt to prolong that which one worked so diligently to strive towards; but at a certain point, such a struggle to continue working despite the increasing manifestation of the medical symptomatologies becomes an “avoidance” issue — of avoiding having to face the inevitable decision-making process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

At some point, however, prolonging the avoidance issue for too long leads to the inevitability of a flashpoint — of an emergency resulting from a crisis, where the Agency itself will propose an adverse action, or the medical condition itself will dictate the terms and conditions which necessitate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Avoidance will force the close encounter; too long of an avoidance will make the encounter not just close, but a direct impact requiring emergency actions.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Thanksgiving

In representing Federal and Postal employees for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, one encounters multiple medical conditions, from the very severe and debilitating, to manageable but chronic conditions which impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  

Such review of medical conditions and recognition of what many Federal and Postal employees must undergo, is often a humbling experience; for, while a lawyer’s job is to focus upon the legal aspects of a case, and to bifurcate one’s personal “feelings” as distinct from the legal issues, the antiseptic medical facts, and the ability to provide an objective, analytical view of all of the facts and circumstances — such conceptual bifurcation has its limits.  

Daily, Federal and Postal employees who suffer from various medical conditions must make difficult choices about their future, their career, and their work & personal obligations.  It is well to pause during this Thanksgiving to reflect upon the blessings that we have, as opposed to conditions which have resulted in the loss or reduction of that which we do not have.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Preparations

In a perfect world, each of us would make preparations to confront, engage in, and lay the foundations necessary for dealing in life’s eventualities, whether such events constitute emergencies, circumstances both foreseen and unforeseen; or everyday events which are commonplace but necessary “duties” which have to be undertaken, dealt with, and completed.  For much of what we fail to prepare for, it is often an avoidance issue.  

In thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the fact that one must confront and acknowledge the issue is something which most Federal and Postal employees — understandably — do not want to do.  This is because, for anyone filing with the Office of Personnel Management, an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must entail three (3) essential concepts which must be recognized:  First, that one has a medical condition of a severity, such that it has or will last at least twelve months.  Second, that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  And third — but just as important — that the very process itself, in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, is a process which contains pitfalls, potential setbacks, and the possibility of disapproval, as well as a long and arduous waiting period. This is because one is dealing with a Federal Agency.  But that we could prepare for this eventuality; it remains, unfortunately, one of life’s challenges, and one which most Federal and Postal employees attempt to avoid, but one which is a benefit worth fighting for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Time to Make the Decision (Part 2)

The medical condition known as “Fibromyalgia” is analogous to the manner in which Federal and Postal employees approach the decision-making process in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS.  Let me explain:  Fibromyalgia, as the Office of Personnel Management often likes to characterize, often manifests itself with chronic and diffuse pain which “waxes and wanes” — meaning, in simple terms, that there are good days and bad days; days when the pain is unbearable, excruciating and debilitating; and days when one can “manage” the extent of the pain and mental dysfunction and confusion. With that context, the Office of Personnel Management often tries to argue that it is not “so bad” as to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS. 

By analogy, people with all sorts of medical conditions — from physically debilitating neck and back pain; from Orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, chronic pain, visual impairment, etc.; to psychiatric disabilities of Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD — some days, one can seem to manage the disability; on other days, one cannot get through the day, let alone perform the essential elements of one’s job.  But deep down, one knows that one cannot continue forever on the same course.  To continue is to slowly wither away by a thousand cuts, one cut at a time, one cut per day.  And so, just as the Office of Personnel Management is plainly wrong (for Fibromyalgia is a chronic and debilitating medical condition which clearly qualifies for disability retirement), so the person who procrastinates in making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS is simply waiting for the inevitable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire