OPM Disability Retirement: The Reality of Accommodations

Medical conditions test the value of a worker; for, while people may engage in theoretical discussions of “cost-benefits analysis“, where the cost of X is compared and contrasted to the benefit of Y, such that the hypothetical analysis results in a business decision based upon pure economic need — the reality of such an approach rarely gets a true test beyond such dinner table discussions.  But when a Federal or Postal Worker begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition visibly impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then the economic paradigm of a cost-benefits analysis is applied, whether overtly or in a more subtle, inconspicuous manner.

The agency may recognize the need to allow for temporary suspension of certain positional duties — travel may be taken up by some other employee; heavy lifting may need an additional helper; telecommuting may be a viable option.  The cost of such temporary measures is felt in the work left undone; the benefit is accrued by the experience, wisdom, and knowledge of the disabled retained worker.  In rarer occasions, a formal request for an accommodation may be submitted by the Federal or Postal Worker, and an administrative process of attempting to provide a legally viable accommodation may ensue; but that is a rare process, indeed.

The reality of accommodations in the Federal sector is one of practical need versus the trouble such attempts bring; for the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, the true option left is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Such an option results from an agency being tested — and loyalties revealed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Resignation

Resignation is an act which is resisted, for various and complex reasons.

The strength of holding onto something; the sense that such an act would be a culmination of, and admission to, a declaration of defeat; it is often and stubbornly believed that to resist the finality of the act promulgates a validation of remaining strength to survive.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the decision not to resign allows for greater options to remain open:  the tolling of the Statute of Limitations (Federal and Postal employees have up until 1 year from the date of separation from Federal Service to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits) will not be triggered; there is the belief that, if a Federal Disability Retirement application is filed, but is denied at all stages, the Federal or Postal employee may have the opportunity to continue to work at the Federal or Postal job; a sense that OPM will scrutinize a Federal Disability Retirement application submitted by one who has chosen to resign, in a different and more rigorous light; and multiple similar reasonings employed.

But whether for financial considerations (accessing one’s TSP), personal reasons (moving to a different location to be with family, etc.), or psychological decisions (the action itself may allow for some sense of finality and culmination of relief), sometimes it may be necessary to contemplate the act of resignation.

How such a resignation should be worded may play somewhat of a relevant part, and should be reflected upon before any final submission.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Stark Reality

Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher who recognized the imposition of human categories, structures and conceptual perspectives upon the stark reality of the world around us.  Within such levels of an uniquely human perspective, we shape the barren reality and impose our perceptual constructs.

It is not something we have any choice in; by being uniquely human, we see the world in a human way, thereby bringing to it a comprehension and order which our species can embrace, just as other animals may encounter the world from its own unique perspective.  Thus, the world according to Kant became one of bifurcation — between the “noumenal” world which was unfiltered and unknowable, and the phenomenal world of our own “making”.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must always keep in mind the two parallel universes — the one which we hope for and often “make”, and the one in which we must survive.

When a medical condition impacts a person’s life to such an extent that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the phenomenal world of our making may include:  Hope that the Federal agency will treat us fairly; hope that the medical condition may improve or go away; hope that one’s work will not suffer as a consequence.  But in the stark reality of the noumenal world, one must recognize the unknowable:  Agencies rarely show a sense of sustained loyalty; medical conditions being what they are, will often remain on a steady course of debilitating progressivity; and one’s medical condition almost always impacts the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Walking about with a uniquely human perspective is something which we cannot help; gliding through life with self-deceptions is something which, while also uniquely human, one cannot afford to engage in for too long.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OWCP Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees? Beware the Lull of Complacency

Monotony is a state of being which we often criticize, yet unintentionally seek; for it is that hiatus of quietude which allows for thoughtful reflection, and recuperative islands of serenity, which serves to prevail upon an otherwise maniacal universe of a fast-paced technological world of smart phones, email, and the constant drone of machinery and demands of the modern decalogue.

But the problems inherent with the calm of normalcy is that it serves the unwanted plate of complacency; and it is precisely the latter which then results in procrastination, a sense that things can wait until tomorrow — until that tomorrow leaves us in the throes of yesterday.

And so it is with Federal and Postal employees who remain on OWCP/Department of Labor benefits, where the luxury of being paid 66 2/3 % if without dependents, and 75% with dependents, provides for that period of life when nothing moves and everything remains static, while one attempts to recuperate from an injury or occupational disease.  But as one remains in that island of calm, the world — and time — continues to march on (do the young of today fully understand the metaphor of time in this digital age where the rhythmic constancy of a ticking clock is no longer heard?).

The Federal or Postal employee might receive a notice of separation from Federal Service, but since the OWCP payments will continue, not think twice about such mundane consequences.  But Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be filed for within one (1) year of separation from Federal Service; and when the hiatus of OWCP benefits is suddenly terminated, the world of monotony may turn upside down into one of unintended turmoil, unless a “back-up” system of benefits was applied for.

Reflective moments are a positive thing; inaction for too long, however, often results in atrophy — a state of being which is never a positive one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Actions

“That which the Federal Agency determines is tantamount to the hand of God — only more powerful.”  Or so it may often seem.  And so the Federal (and Postal) Worker will often wait with trepidation and anxious disturbances, caught in the limbo of a Federal bureaucracy, whether in issuing a leave-restriction letter, a warning, a formal PIP plan, a determination of being fit or unfit for duty, and multiple other actions which will adversely impact upon a Federal worker.

Preemptive actions rarely have any efficacy with a Federal Agency; an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board is often seen as a mere formality for the Board to render a decision in the agency’s favor, especially when it comes to agency actions concerning discipline and work; and an EEO complaint, while a tactic for forestalling ultimate decisions, is a burdensome and lengthy process of litigation.

Federal Disability Retirement is often the most advantageous of avenues to pursue, if only because the standard of proof to meet the eligibility criteria is quite low — not the high standard of Social Security Disability, where one must show a deleterious impact upon the daily living abilities, but the much lower standard of being unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Proactive choices in life are often limited, especially when one is confronted with a seemingly omnipotent entity like a Federal Agency; but Federal Disability Retirement is an existent benefit which allows for the Federal or Postal employee to opt out and reach that rehabilitative period of seclusion, in order to regain one’s health and come back for another day, another fight, another round.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Accommodating Agency

During the course of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the issue of “accommodations” must be addressed — if only in completing Standard Form 3112D (otherwise designated as “Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts”).

It may well be that the Federal or Postal employee’s employing agency has been performing an informal “cost-benefits” analysis throughout the years, and that certain attempts at accommodating the Postal worker’s or other Federal employee’s medical conditions have been ongoing.

Thus, such attempts may include temporary suspension or unofficial elimination of certain key elements of one’s position description; allowance for teleworking for all or part of a workweek; disallowing necessary travel for onsite inspections, etc.  These and other attempts by an agency in order to retain the experience and technical expertise of a Federal or Postal employee, are all honorable and reasonable measures by the agency to keep the employee employed.

When the time comes, however, for the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because he or she has reached a “point of no return” in terms of the progressively debilitating nature of the medical condition, where all such informal accommodations are no longer helpful in allowing for continuing functionality in the workplace, the Federal or Postal entity may well have always considered such measures to meet the standard of an “accommodation”.  Such a thought process is normally wrong.  But agencies, in completing SF 3112D, will often thoughtlessly attempt to characterize such prior attempts as legally-viable accommodations.

It is up to the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant to point out the error — something which OPM is more than willing to pounce upon unless corrected by the applicant or his/her attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire