Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Preserving One’s Rights

Often, loss of vigilance occurs as a result of the relief of attaining something; once gotten, the fight to get it suddenly disappears, and the overwhelming sense of relief is likened to the response of a balloon which deflates upon a pinprick.

But vigilance is the key to ongoing success.  There is never a time to be nonchalant; to attain is merely another step in a process, and that process must be fought for just as diligently as during the time of fighting to reach a goal.

For Federal and Postal workers who are preparing to file, or who are in the process of filing, for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the goal of getting an approval from OPM for a Federal Disability Retirement is merely an intermediate step.  Once attained, the goal is to preserve and to protect.  Fortunately, that is a fairly simple matter — one of maintaining regular contact with one’s doctor; of making sure that one’s doctor will continue to support one’s case in the event that the Federal or Postal annuitant receives a medical questionnaire from OPM.

OPM disability retirement is not like OWCP; because you are allowed to work at other employment and make up to 80% of what your former job currently pays, there is normally nothing wrong with engaging in normal activities which would violate any rules (unlike OWCP cases, where investigators will often videotape individuals to show the engagement of activities contrary to medical restrictions, etc.).  But let not victory lead to lack of continuing vigilance; as that which was won can only be maintained with an attitude similar to keeping to the path which guided one to achieve the goal in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Continuing Care

A medical condition never has a simple solution; depending upon the nature, extent and severity of the condition, it must be “managed” and attended to throughout one’s life.  Similarly, while “filing” for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is an “event” which may constitute a series of actions which results in the “approval” of a Federal benefit, the benefit itself must be “managed” and cared for throughout a process of continuing retentive procedures.

One cannot assume that once the benefit of OPM/Federal Disability Retirement is obtained — given the hard fight which one must engage in — that the process is thereby over.  That is the reason why the foundational building-blocks which form the underlying administrative process — of the decision of which initial medical conditions to include in one’s Statement of Disability; which medical evidentiary documentation to include; how one should linguistically characterize the impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, tasks, positional duties, etc. — is of great importance in establishing the pattern of management for the future.

For, as other issues, both economic and medical, may potentially intrude upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity (i.e., whether one has earned income above or below the 80% rule; whether one has been restored medically such that OPM could argue for termination of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, etc.), it is important to maintain a stance of managing one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit throughout one’s life, until one reaches the bifurcation point at age 62 where it becomes “converted” to regular retirement.

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

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: After the Storm

Particularized geographical locations will have differing stories.  Rarely are two stories the same, and indeed, that can be the case even between neighbors who are twenty feet apart.  It is the uniqueness of each situation which defines the situation.  A storm can come — whether in terms of the “objective” world, or perhaps through psychological and emotional turmoil —  without but a passing notice to a friend, neighbor, or coworker.

For the Federal or Postal worker contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the “storm” which must be endured is the medical condition itself, and its impact upon one’s livelihood, one’s life, and future stability for one’s family.  It is a process which is independent of one’s geographical location.  It is a condition which, often, coworkers only suspect, and is unfortunately hidden and kept from supervisors and managers, for obvious reasons.

The physical storms which come and go will leave behind a trail of visible devastation; what agencies and supervisors do will often leave residual damage far greater than physical devastation can betray.  It is the storms of daily life which need attending to, as opposed to a one-time life-event.  If that “storm” of a medical condition has come to a flashpoint where one can no longer work at a Federal or Postal position, then it is time to begin preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Only the individual who suffers — silently, and in fear — can make that determination.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: After the Dust Settles

Moments in time are often emphasized by specific occurrences; one may have vivid memories of rather mundane freeze-frames of one’s life, and such flashes of remembrances may be punctuated by an event which exponentially magnifies the importance of a particular pinpoint in one’s life.

One often talks about the “aha” event, or in psychology, the gestalt moment, where clarity comes upon one and sudden illumination occurs, where understanding, comprehension and embracing of intellectual openness comes to fruition.  But what one fails to realize, is that the real work — the hard work of life — comes after such a moment, when the mundane drudgery of daily living must follow thereafter.

In any moment of victory of defeat, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must recognize that, if, whether and when, a Federal or Postal employee obtains and gets approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, life must still go on, and the hard choices of such a life must still be made at each moment of one’s life.

Thus, throughout the administrative process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement, it is important to recognize that the process itself continues; but in a different form.  If denied, the disappointment of a denial should not overwhelm one, but merely be understood as a momentary setback which must be fought.  Everything in life comes at a cost — and expended effort.

If approved, then such an approval is merely the beginning point to the next phase in one’s life.  After the dust settles is when the real work begins.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire