Happy New Year

For Federal and Postal workers under either FERS or CSRS who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and for all those who are awaiting an approval for a pending application before the Office of Personnel Management — may you have a safe and Happy New Year for 2012. For those who have already obtained a Federal Disability Retirement — may the coming year find your medical conditions bearable, and hope that you may recover sufficiently in order to find the economy in stable shape so you may find other employment, and perhaps make up to 80% of what your former Federal or Postal position pays, while keeping your OPM Disability benefits. Have a Happy New Year.
Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: FMLA and Federal Disability Retirement

FMLA, or the “Family and Medical Leave Act“, allows for the Federal or Postal employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid (LWOP) leave during a 12 month period.  It is “protective” measurement against adverse actions by an Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  

While the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS may take longer than the 12-week period, it nevertheless allows for some protection during the administrative process.  Moreover, if timed properly, it can fend off adversarial actions, harassment, undue pressure, etc., in conjunction with other requests and actions — such as taking sick leave, annual leave, etc.  

Often, agencies become irrational and impatient during the long administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, acting as if the Federal or Postal employee has any control over the timing or the timeframe taken by the Office of Personnel Management. While FMLA has no direct connection to OPM Medical Retirement, it is one more “tool” that the Federal or Postal employee may utilize to shield one’s self against the aggressive actions of the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Thoughtless Agency Actions

The term, “oxymoron” comes from the Greek, meaning “sharp dull” — a phrase or concept which embraces two or more contradictory terms.  When was the last time that the combination of terms, “thoughtful” and “agency” made any sense?  

Thus, it is a waste of one’s time to rant and get upset over an agency’s actions because of bad timing (i.e., to propose a removal during the holidays; to initiate a PIP on the day before Thanksgiving; to suspend a person without pay on a Federal employee’s birthday; and other such coinciding thoughtless encounters).  It is fine to be upset for a moment because of the thoughtless actions of an agency; to continue to heave insults and focus upon the thoughtlessness, however, is a waste of one’s time, and ultimately misunderstands the role, intent and goal of an Agency.  

The reason why “thoughtless” and “Agency” do not ultimately and technically comprise an oxymoron, is because inherent in the very definition of the entity identified as a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, is the idea that it is indeed a Hobbsian Leviathan which a singular purpose of “doing” something, whatever that “something” is.  

In the administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, one should expect that one’s Agency, or the U.S. Postal Service, will engage in multiple thoughtless actions.  That is the innate nature of a Federal agency, or the U.S. Postal Service.  And, inasmuch as Federal Disability Retirement involves medical conditions, a sense that “empathy” and “sympathy” are called for — of a person’s career coming to an end; of an often progressively deteriorating medical condition, etc. — one would think that the agency would consider putting some thought into their actions.  But that would be asking too much.  

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which the agency sees as merely a problematic solution that needs to be dispensed with — yes, an oxymoron, but a truth, nonetheless.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Disability Retirement and Agency Promises

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often easy to confuse the varying roles of the individual and agency entities which are involved in the process.

First and foremost, the Agency for which the individual works, has certain administrative obligations which must be met — of completing certain forms, such as the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B) and the Agency Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation (SF 3112D).  The Office of Personnel Management, on the other hand, is the ultimate arbiter and deciding entity determining the viability of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, as to meeting the legal criteria for eligibility for the benefit.

The agency cannot make promises to the Federal employee, or the Postal employee (if the case happens to be the U.S. Postal Service), as to “getting” the individual Federal employee or Postal employee, a Federal Disability Retirement.

There can certainly be actions taken by the agency, or the representative of the agency, which may help to “enhance” the chances of an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement.  However, enhancing the chances of an approval is quite different from promising to “give” or to “get” a Federal or Postal employee a Federal Disability Retirement from the Office of Personnel Management.  Only the latter entity can accomplish that.

As for any promises by the agency that “he said X” or “he promised Y” — get it in writing.  It may only be worth the paper it is written on, but at least by asking, you can determine the truth or falsity of such a promise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Agency Discretion

During engagement in the administrative process known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — applying for the benefit from the Office of Personnel Management — there is the ongoing fear by the Federal or Postal employee of being “fired” from one’s job.  The consequences of such an action, of course, can be rather severe.  

Often, losing one’s health insurance coverage, even if temporarily, can have a devastating impact (although, if it is any consolation, once one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits are approved by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM will pay to the health insurance carrier all premiums due and owing from any backpay, and the health insurance coverage will be reactivated as if there was never any break in coverage).  Or, the income from working as much as possible, or from use of sick leave, annual leave, etc., that was relied upon, will suddenly stop upon termination by the Agency.

Unfortunately, the courts and the Merit Systems Protection Board have been given wide discretion in initiating termination of a Federal or Postal employee based upon the “efficiency” of the Federal Service.  Many Federal and Postal employees fight against such termination and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to fight against such termination.  

While comment on the effectiveness of such a legal battle will be withheld, it is the opinion of this writer that a more efficient use of one’s resources is expended upon “negotiating” with the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service in formulating a compromise to effectuate the dual goals of the parties involved:  For the individual Federal or Postal employee, obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management; for the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, to rid itself of the employee and secure an empty positional slot to be filled by someone else.  

As two interests coincide, it is better to persuade the Federal Agency that such dual interests run on parallel paths, instead of intersecting as a collision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Necessity of Recognition

For all of the Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits either under FERS or CSRS, it is important to recognize first, the complexity of the administrative process; second, that Federal Disability Retirement benefits are not a guaranteed outcome — it is not an “entitlement” in the sense that a Federal or Postal employee can automatically qualify for the benefit — but is part of the Federal compensation package for being a Federal or Postal employee, but one which must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence in order to qualify; and third, that the challenge of proving one’s eligibility must be met in a sequential, logical, and methodological manner such that the presentation made to the Office of Personnel Management is coherent, concise and comprehensible.  

Preparation for the long administrative process  is a prerequisite; proper formulation of one’s packet must be carefully attended to; and timely filing in order to meet the statutory guidelines is a necessity.  All in all, meeting the entirety of the administrative process is a complex legal maneuver which should be considered with care, foresight, and deliberation.  Do not take anything for granted.  Seek proper and useful information; then be “effective” as opposed to “efficient” — although, obviously encapsulating both qualities concurrently would be the best of all worlds.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Medical Conditions & the Holidays

Part of the problem for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is the vicious cycle of work, attending to the medical conditions, attempting to recuperate, being exhausted and profoundly fatigued because of the need to work, compounded and exacerbated by the worry and anxiety of securing one’s economic and financial future.  

Further, the “Holidays”, as this time of year is identified, can further complicate matters, because of the need to appear joyful and festive, thankful and at peace.  Medical conditions have a way of epitomizing the present reality of one’s condition, and the traditional obligation of festivities and family gatherings can often complicate matters.  

During this time, however, it is best to recognize that the administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits cannot be accomplished, if only because the Federal Government essential becomes non-operational during the next couple of weeks.  Given that, it is best to approach the entire process as being a suspended time for everyone, and to temporarily set aside the worries, anxieties and need to accomplish or be productive.  Use it to recuperate.  There is always the coming New Year.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire