Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Indicators

The technology of automobiles has changed radically in the past 2 decades.  No longer do we rely upon intuition, the automotive “ear” for that strange sound which, when talking to the service department, we attempt with futility to reenact with absurd pitches and tones in an attempt to accurately depict that which fails to occur when brought to the attention of the mechanic.  Instead, there are electronic warning lights and the computer sensors which specifically and with great detail indicate a past occurrence, a present problem, or a needed future course of action.

If the human body is the ultimate composite of neuro-sensors and complexities of the physical, the psychological, and the coalescence of mind, body and soul (including the philosophical “ghost in the machine“), then pain must be the warning indicator for past transgressions, current anomalies, and future need for servicing.  Those who ignore automotive warning signs do so at their peril; similarly, to ignore such signs emitted by the human body and transcribed in no uncertain terms via the daily chronicity of pain, do so with a singular certainty of progressive deterioration and decline.

Ultimately, the decision for the Federal or Postal Worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be accomplished once warning signs are heeded, and a blunt discussion with doctors, family and friends are engaged; but it is the pure and unadulterated ignoring of all signs which results in crisis and disaster.

The warning signs are there to heed; the future course of action is still left up to the recipient of such indicators.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: When Once Sleep is No Longer Restorative

Sleep is more than the cessation of activities; it is a state of slumber and dormancy, when one can effectively escape from the daily stimuli of variegated bombardments; as an escape, it allows for the mind to suspend the frantic functioning of communicating and conveying the billions of information bits which must be perceived, processed, bundled, interpreted, and delivered to the destination needed for instantaneous response and decision-making.

Such a complex, subconscious and underlying process may be comprised of a simple act as mundane as scratching an itch located in one’s lower extremity; or it may be to respond to an emergency of epic proportions involving countless lives.  But for each response and particularized stimuli, the multitude of processing venues which the mind must filter requires a time of restorative relief, known variously as that state of “sleeping”.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee — whether in law enforcement in tracking down criminals and drug cartels; or for Federal prosecutors who must weave a complex web of details to put together a case; or for the window clerk at the Postal Service who must respond to multiple queries from customers on an hourly basis; all are subjected to varying degrees of information processing by the brain, which requires complex connections occurring beneath the skin, within the protective skull of our brains, and sent to destinations throughout our bodies.

At the end of the day, sleep becomes a necessity, for purposes of restorative value, to rejuvenate mind, body, and the classic “ghost in the machine” — the human soul.  But when sleep is no longer restorative; when the chronic pain interrupts the required time of suspended dormancy; or when the anxieties of the human psyche overwhelm us with uncontrollable ruminations of fears both real and created — then sleep itself becomes an enemy of our own making.  Without that period of restorative suspended dormancy, the very lack of sleep exacerbates those other medical conditions which dominate our daily lives.

Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the Office of Personnel Management, allows for the Federal or Postal employee to escape that vicious cycle of medical condition/lack of sleep/progressive deterioration/work/back to the constancy of the debilitating medical condition.  Perhaps it is time to rethink the paradigm.

Federal Disability Retirement is a step forward for Federal and Postal employees, in order to reach that point of restorative sleep needed, for the health of the human psyche.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Fridays & Brief Cessation of Pain

It is an American tradition to look forward to Fridays — for the leisure which comes after; for the casual custom which is often invoked by corporations, both in dress codes as well as in demeanor; for the plans which are made with friends, family or with the pleasure of solitude and quietude.  But where such a tradition is violated by an insidious pall, where expectations of fun-filled activities are replaced by the need for recuperative slices of immobility and sleep, then it may be time to consider a different option in life.  

Chronic medical conditions; medical conditions which are progressively deteriorating; degenerative conditions which impact and prevent one from looking upon Fridays as the bridge to leisure, and instead is merely a temporary respite for recovery back to a functional level of capacity where one may merely operate and endure for another week — these are indicators that alternatives to the present way of surviving must be considered.  

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a benefit which is intended to allow for the Federal or Postal employee to embrace a time of recuperation, and yet to consider the option of working at a second vocation in the future.  It may not be the “perfect” solution to all, but it is certainly preferable to the life of Fridays and beyond which merely encapsulate a dreaded sense to foreboding for the subsequent Monday.  

OPM Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option which is viable, and one which is part of the compensatory package that all Federal and Postal employees signed up for when they became Federal and Postal employees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Delays

Often, the answer to a question posed depends upon how accurately the question is presented.  Such are the tools of the trade of an attorney, and it is often necessary to rephrase, reassemble and rearrange a question in order to suit an answer.  

In a Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, the question posed is:  How long does the process take?  This all depends upon a number of factors — how quickly the treating doctor will respond; how long will the Agency take in completing their portion; what is the “wait time” at the Office of Personnel Management.

Unspoken within the original question, however, is how many months of delay has already occurred on the part of the potential applicant prior to coming to a point of determining that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a necessary event.  Unfortunately, the very emergency nature of having to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS results quite often because the Federal or Postal worker has continued to delay for months and months — and sometimes years — prior to coming to a decision that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a necessity.  

Such delays and procrastination are often part of the medical condition itself, and cannot be helped.  But during such delays, it is important to make an assessment as to whether the procrastination has a detrimental effect, or is it for positive reasons?  If it is irrefutable that one’s medical condition is progressively and irreversibly deteriorating; if delaying is simply dwindling finances needed to endure the long administrative process of waiting for an approval from the Office of Personnel Management; if putting off the inevitable is simply a result of not wanting to face the event; such reasons for delay constitute a self-defeating action.  If, on the other hand, delaying has meant securing one’s financial future, or because it has had positive psychological benefits, then that is a different matter entirely.  

To delay is not necessarily a negative decision, but each individual must bear the personal responsibility of his or her part in such an act, by making a forthright assessment of the underlying reasons and justifications.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Procrastination

Someone once said that procrastination is a wonderful thing — it allows for a lag-time between the future (for those things which need to get accomplished at some point), the present (those things which require attention immediately), and the past (those things which needed to get done, but whose time has passed, and with each passing moment, the urgency of which is diminishing because it doesn’t matter, anyway).  But procrastination has a way of “catching up” — where the piling up of past non-action combined with the present need to act, finally explodes when there is no future left to wait for. 

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS should not be compiled based upon a paradigm of procrastination.  Waiting for the last moment, or simply putting together a voluminous box of medical records and quickly filling out an SF 3112A by listing a compendium of known or suspected medical conditions, then quickly concluding that they impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, will only further raise the chances of a denial from the Office of Personnel Management

When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee and his or her ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, there is certainly a sense of urgency.  However, the urgency to quickly file a case must be weighed and balanced against the future likelihood of success.  This is a long, long, process, and the extra time it may take — weeks or months — to properly prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, will help to prevent the problems of procrastination.  

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

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Priority and Importance

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to always distinguish between two conceptual paradigms:  priority of an issue, and the importance of an issue.

While gathering the proper evidence and substantiating medical documentation is of importance, it should not be the priority.  The priority — that which should precede another — should be to take care of the medical condition itself (i.e., to get the proper treatment modalities, to undergo the necessary diagnostic tests, to follow the treatment regimen of the doctor, etc.).

At some point, of course, the question will arise:  Is it time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS?  Can I continue to work at my job?  Is my job performance suffering?  At that critical juncture, then the issue of importance may arise.  While priority has to do with that which is first in a series of issues, the concept of “importance” can entail multiple issues all at once.

Once the question of “whether” is answered in the affirmative, then one must begin to approach the doctor for his or her support; to begin to annotate how the medical condition is impacting one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, etc.  All throughout, of course, the priority of getting the proper medical care is paramount.  Everything else is secondary, but other things can concurrently be of importance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Right Time to File

The proper time to file for a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is an issue which only the Federal or Postal employee contemplating such action can make a final determination upon.  The question often posed to an attorney, “What should I do?” is a difficult one when it comes to timing.  However, because the Office of Personnel Management seems to be taking a long time in rendering decisions upon a FERS or CSRS disability retirement application, such length of time must be taken into account when determining which “metric system” of filing one should rely upon.  

Further, because OWCP benefits can be cut off because of non-compliance issues, or because the Department of Labor has decided that you are fully recovered and can go back to full duties, the comfort of such payments may not be the best guidance as to determining the right time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  The answer to the previous question is thus probably two-fold:  

The fact that you are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an indicator; and second, preparation should involve reading as much information on the internet by various resources, and determining which source appears to have the knowledge, credibility and insight to be able to assist you in attaining your goals.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Time to File

When should I file?  This is a question which is asked often; it is a telling, revealing question, because it is often a rhetorical question.  It is as if the question begs to be answered with an unequivocal, “You must file now”.  Aside from the time it takes, which is generally between 6 – 8 months from the time the entire process begins until the time the Office of Personnel Management approves an OPM Disability Retirement application at the First Stage of the process (and certainly this general time-frame needs to be taken into account because of financial circumstances, accrued sick and annual leave which may be used, and multiple other factors for consideration), the Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating when to file an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits generally knows the answer to the question.  As a general rule, if one asks the question, then the answer is already known.  If one is expecting a PIP, comes home each day dreading and exhausted, living with the anxiety that the Agency is waiting for an excuse to get rid of the employee; if each night and weekends are spent just recuperating in order to make it into the office for another day, then to ask the question, “When should I file?” becomes merely a tautology.  To arrive at that point is to make it into an emergency; it is better to project into the future; as a football coach once said, “The future is now.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Right Time (Part 2)

How to determine when is the “right” time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, and when is the right time — those are issues which are quite personal and peculiar to each individual case.  Unfortunately, it is the very inherent nature of medical conditions, medical disabilities, and the chronic & debilitating symptoms that accompany such conditions, combined with the strong sense of loyalty, commitment to duty, and the desire to continue to believe that a Federal or Postal worker will overcome the current condition of disability — that often prevents a person to come to the critical point of determining the “right time”.  And, to put it in its proper perspective, this is probably a good thing, insofar as being a reflection upon the character of most individuals. 

Most individuals have a strong sense of commitment and hard work, and most want to continue to believe that one’s condition of medical disability is merely a temporary state of affairs.  But when such loyalty and commitment comes at the price of one’s personal detriment, it becomes a negative thing.  The problem comes when all of the objective indicators are ignored — when sick and annual leave are being depleted; when excessive LWOP is taken; when performance at work clearly suffers; when each night and weekend are used to recuperate from the day’s work; when savings become depleted; when a sense of desperation sets in.  Then, when it comes time to make the decision, it becomes an emergency. At that point, while it is not too late to begin the process, it is probably less than the “right time” to have started the process.  While better late than never, it is a good thing to take affirmative control of one’s future, and not let events control it uncontrollably.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire