Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS from OPM: Recognition of the Postal Worker’s value

The value of a thing rests in its essence, not upon an external determination, but for the very thing itself.  That is why the mercantile system of buying and selling, trading and bartering, can never account for the pricelessness of a work of exquisite beauty; unable to be appraised, incapable of being tagged, that which possesses value can never be framed.   —  From Art, the Price is Never Right  by Todai Ishekura

 Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:  Recognition of the Postal Worker’s value

The Postal Service is a unique entity:  a Constitutionally recognized organization; a necessary component and ongoing engagement in intra and inter-state commerce of the country; but as email has replaced first-class letters; paperless billing and on-line banking replace invoice mailings; UPS and FedEx compete for parcel and package deliveries; so, what is left?  Magazines and junk mail?  The U.S. Postal Service posted a net loss of 1.890 billion dollars for the month of July alone; 13.539 billion dollars for the year-to-date.  With the national debt increasing exponentially, and with economic reverberations reflecting a daunting future, is the Postal Service destined to the abyss of obsolescence?  The future ability of the Federal Government to sustain massive annual deficits will almost certainly impact the capacity to subsidize the sustaining viability of the U.S. Postal Service.  That being said, what does the future hold for this venerable institution?  More importantly, are the multiple jobs performed by the U.S. Postal employees of any consequence, anymore?

From Window and Distribution Clerks, to Mail Handlers, Heavy Equipment operators; those who work on DBCS or flat sorter machines; Laborers and Custodians; City and Rural Carriers; Supervisors, Managers and Postmasters – especially those who work in small post offices where multiple hats are worn, from being a Window Clerk to taking on the task of a Mail Processing Clerk —  the U.S. Postal Service is a self-contained juggernaut, employing over 8 million people, over 500,000 career employees, with annual revenues exceeding 65 billion dollars —  it is, by any standard of measurement, an economic force to be reckoned with. 

As an economic force, it is also beset with the natural and inherent problems reflective of such a large organization.  Watching the daily workforce – or, rather, imagining the daily, repetitive physicality of the workforce, and the stressful interaction between Supervisor to Clerks, Clerks to customers, coordinated distribution centers all across the United States, working day and night, it is a microcosm of an entity reflective of a small country.  And, indeed, it suffers from all of the problems of a nation – including injured workers and an overstressed work force.

Even just a decade ago, psychiatric medical conditions comprised a smaller percentage of the total medical conditions claimed, acknowledged, admitted to, or otherwise declared for treatment purposes.  Physical medical conditions have always pervaded the U.S. Postal Service – precisely because of the repetitive nature and strain of the type of work performed.  In generic terms, the constant standing, bending, lifting, reaching, pulling, pushing – all testing the limits of human endurance and the ability of the human machine to withstand such mechanized artificial challenges to an organically constructed phenomenon of beauty, grace, and what some might describe as the pinnacle of nature’s architectural achievement.

In modern times, psychiatric conditions are not only pervasive, but are accepted as part of the fabric of any complex society.  Whether it is merely reflective of the way in which we live, or because the technological complexity of the world has placed such unnatural stresses upon the human psyche, the fact is that psychiatric conditions impact the U.S. Postal Service in a manner representative of a microcosm of the greater United States.  Fortunately for the Postal worker, there is the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  And, indeed, because of the type of stressful environment created by both the external and internal demands placed upon the U.S. Postal Service, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is that it constitutes a progressive approach to a country, society, and organization which recognizes that it is consciously damaging its own health because of such excessive pressures.

Whether severe and recurrent Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or more serious deterioration of cognitive dysfunctions, including psychosis and paranoia, the fact is that psychiatric conditions are reflective of the stresses and fast-paced complexities of a society of man’s own creation.  Of course, the physical conditions and environment which impact the Postal Worker at all levels will continue to present a challenging dilemma.  But as cut-backs, consolidations of Postal facilities, and continuing de-funding of various sectors of this once-great institution faced with the economic challenges of our time results in further pressures upon the Postal Worker – the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement should always be kept in mind.  Why?  Because Federal Disability Retirement is not a compensation program which merely puts people “out to pasture”.  Instead, it is an annuity which is paid because the Postal Worker has established that he or she is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and once eligible and entitled, the Postal Worker is encouraged to go out and get another job in the private sector, where one can make up to 80% of what one’s former Postal position currently pays – on top of the 60% annuity the first year, then 40% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years every year thereafter.

Ultimately, whether it is a physical medical condition, or one based upon psychiatric issues, is beside the point.  What matters is that the value of the individual worker should always be paramount.  Once upon a time in America, the U.S. Postal Worker was considered an important component in the economic wheel of America.  The efficient delivery of a letter or package; the conversant interaction of the Letter Carrier with neighbors and shop keepers; the pride of pre-mechanized processing of mail; the American Postal System in its heyday was a sight to behold.  But as economic pressures mounted, internal and external stresses – both physical and psychiatric – have resulted in debilitating medical conditions.  The causes can be debated; the reality of today’s Postal Worker cannot be argued:  whether from repetitive-stress injuries, the demand of the Postal Worker to do more than can be reasonably expected; or the result of workforce pressures which are inherently a part of the societal ills of modern employment – Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to the U.S. Postal Worker:  not as an end to employment, but as a compensatory system for sacrificing one’s body and mind to a particular job.

Armed with a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the Postal Worker can start upon a second career or vocation.  It is a benefit offered so that the U.S. Postal Worker of today can continue to contribute to the very society which expected much, demanded more, and paid the price for it.

About the Author

Attorney Robert R. McGill specializes in securing Federal Disability Retirement benefits for Federal and Postal workers under both FERS and CSRS. He represents Federal and Postal employees from all across the United States, from the West Coast to the East, and every state in between, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Europe, Japan, etc. For more information about his legal services, please visit his Federal Disability Retirement and U.S. Postal Service Disability Retirement websites