Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: Agencies and the Opium Den of Yore

They were dark caverns of gatherings; residual consequences of colonialism; and though denied in polite society, the lure of addictive aroma wafting ever pervasively brought men and women repeatedly to the doors which opened for the pleasurable moment of escape.  It was like going back, and staying, despite knowing the harm it did, would do, and could wrought, even with the knowledge of the harm portending.  But the residue of the sweet scent would remain, like an invisible thread tugging at the weakest corners of the soul, to return, return, return.

Life tends to do that; of drawing people back, and holding on despite knowing that it is not good for one; and perhaps that explains, in part, those who remain in abusive relationships and engage in self-harm and behavior of self-immolation.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who remain with the same agency, in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service, knowing that continuation in the same job inflicts harm and continuing, contributing deterioration of one’s medical condition, the agency itself and the U.S. Postal Service becomes like the opium den or yore.  One returns, knowing that the abusive behavior of the entity will only continue to pervade with a constancy of greater aggression.

For Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the need to separate from the Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service — like the addict who requires the sheer determination and willpower to stay away from the opium den — often remains the only solution.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a planned escape route in order to (A) rehabilitate one’s medical condition and (B) secure an annuity in order to attain a semblance of financial security, both for now and for the future.  As such, any Federal or Postal employee who finds that a medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and who sees the sign of future adverse actions on the part of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, needs to consider the steps necessary to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

One need not be an addict of foregone years wandering through the streets searching for an opium den in order to engage in self-inflicting behavior; it may just be that one is merely a Federal or Postal employee engaging in similar behavior, and not fully realizing the options available.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: An Expectation of Disaster

Most lives are lived with an expectation of unease; if things are going smoothly, we look with suspicion at what will come from around the corner; if calm and quietude prevails, we consider it merely a precursor to a major storm; and if good fortune comes our way, there is a leeriness as to the strings attached.

Perhaps distrust is based upon justifiable historical events; or, as news is merely the compilation of tragic events gathered into a compendium of daily interests, so our skewed perspective of the world merely reinforces what our childhoods entertained.  With a foundation of such natural tendencies to see the world with suspicion, when a medical condition impacts a person, the expectation of crisis is only exponentially magnified.

Suddenly, everyone becomes the enemy, and not just the few who are known to lack heart; and actions which were previously normative, becomes a basis for paranoia.  Chronic pain diminishes tolerance for human folly; depression merely enhances the despair when others engage in actions betraying empathy; and the disaster which was suspected to be just around the corner, closes in on us when pain medications fail to palliatively alleviate.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, the bifurcation between the personal and the professional, between play and work, often comes crumbling down upon us, and signs of potential trouble portend to indicate to us that it may be time to “move on”.  That impending sense of doom?  It may be upon us.  That calm before the storm?  The reality of what the agency is contemplating may prove you right. And the potential loss of good fortune?

Agencies are not known for their patience.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is no longer one of the “good old boys” of the network of productive employees because of a medical condition which is beginning to impact one’s ability to maintain a daily work schedule, or perform at the level prior to the onset of a medical condition, consideration should be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Time is often of the essence, and while most expectations of impending disasters are unfounded, the behavior of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service can never be relied upon, any more than the weather can be predicted a day in advance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: The Coalition Forces

One hears much these days about the importance of forming a coalition of forces before engaging an offensive action; and, indeed, there is the old adage of having strength in numerical superiority, and the sense that a consensus of opinions and cooperation of numbers results in an increased chance of success.

Quantitative composites can mask a disarray of qualitative forces, and the security in numbers can somewhat compensate for lack of internal cohesion.  But what if you are the target of a coalition of forces, albeit one that is merely bureaucratic in nature, and administrative in pragmatic application?

That is how the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker often feels, when applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.  And not only that, but the “attack” comes at one’s most vulnerable point:  when a medical condition is involved.

Filing for OPM Medical Retirement benefits is tantamount to going up against a coalition force:  One’s own agency; one’s own Supervisor; one’s own Human Resource department; one’s own coworkers; and then to contend with trying to obtain the proper and sufficient medical documentation in order to show eligibility and entitlement (yes, there is a distinction with a difference between the two concepts), on top of filling out the vast array of standard forms (SF 3107 series for FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS and CSRS-Offset employees; SF 3112 series for all three, FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset employees).

The medical condition itself, of course, is the vital point of vulnerability, and it is as if the coalition forces are fully aware of those weak points, and attack them relentlessly.  OPM Disability Retirement, the process of filing, and the agencies which make up the linear progression for filing — all together can appear to comprise a coalition of forces which, without necessarily working in coordinated concert of thought or action, can aggregately defeat an OPM Medical Retirement application.

The singular warrior of the target — the FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker — must use all of the administrative and legal tools available, in order to go up against such a behemoth of bureaucratic gargantuan proportions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Benefits: Agency Input

Whether, and to what extent, Federal agencies will support a Federal Medical Retirement, goes to the ultimate issues of sufficiency, necessity and relevancy.  Sufficiency is satisfied by the minimal act of completing the two primary standard forms which the agency is responsible for:  SF 3112B (the Supervisor’s Statement) and SF 3112D (Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts).

Necessity is further accomplished by processing the Federal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application if the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal employee is still on the rolls of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or even if he or she has been separated, the separation has not been for more than thirty one (31) days.  If the Federal employee (now former) or U.S. Postal worker (also now former) has been separated for more than thirty one (31) days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application must be submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the individual is under FERS or CSRS. In either case, the current Federal agency’s Human Resource’s Office would still have to complete SF 3112D, and the former or current Supervisor must complete the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B). Lack of cooperation on the part of an agency or the U.S. Postal Service, once the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is separated from Federal Service, is often a problem — but, then, lack of cooperation can be a problem in any event, even if one is still with the agency.

Finally, the question of relevancy is always a problem to be encountered and confounded.  Is what the agency states on SF 3112B and/or SF 3112D helpful, significant or even relevant?  It all depends.  Some statements can be less-than, while others can remain neutral or somewhat helpful.  Relying upon one’s agency, whether current or former, to help in a Federal Disability Retirement application, beyond doing that which is sufficient or even necessary, is to run on a fool’s errand.

But then, when a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker finds it necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, through one’s agency and then ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to sufficiently reflect a choice of wisdom, and thereby the wise person has already shown a necessary discernment between the importance of priorities in life, as opposed to the irrelevant glitter of fool’s gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement and the Inescapable Bureaucracies

The gargantuan of Leviathans is the Federal entity with a bureaucracy so expansive that identities of Federal employees are not merely never recognized, but to a great extent, irrelevant. Certain agencies fall into that category: The Department of Defense; The Department of Homeland Security; the Department of Veterans Affairs; The Department of Agriculture, with all of their subsidiary services, including the U.S. Forest Service; The U.S. Department of Justice; and, further, the U.S. Postal Service probably qualifies in that category of large, subsuming organizations where one’s identity of any sense of “self”is lost within the overwhelming size of the bureaucracy.

For the Federal employee or the Postal worker who is employed by such organizations, or any of the lesser ones (i.e., U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration; Department of Commerce; NOAA; Department of Energy; Department of — and one may almost be able to simply insert any pragmatic noun or adjective, and there is a department or agency which fits the bill), the intersection of a medical condition which begins to impede one’s ability and capacity to perform the full positional duties of one’s job, becomes a double-edged sword: On the one side of the equation, being an employee of a large organization can mean that one can, with some success of anonymity, continue to work without much notice, so long as the immediate supervisor or other coworkers do not take note; on the other side of the sharpened sword, is the reality that if such an organization begins to take punitive and adverse actions, it is difficult to fight against the compendium of agency tactics.

Whether the agency notices or not, the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker has an absolute right to file for CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so long as certain prefatory legal criteria are met.  For the Federal employee or Postal worker under FERS, a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service is required. For the quickly-fading dinosaur of CSRS employees, the minimum requirement of 5 years of Federal Service is required. In either case, if a Federal employee or Postal worker begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then it is time to consider filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, especially if it becomes fairly evident that the medical condition is going to last a minimum of 12 months.

Then comes the next hurdle and realization: While the ill Federal employee or the injured Postal worker is employed by one of those gargantuan entities, the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application must ultimately be submitted to another Leviathan of sorts: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management. C’est la vie.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Vows and Contracts

People take vows for various reasons: vows of silence, as a satisfaction of a prerequisite for initiation into a religious order; vows of marriage, for the union intended for a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice; vows of revenge, for a personal vendetta in retribution for actions suffered against one’s self or on behalf of another; and similar vows of unremitting focus until the satisfaction of such enduring commitment is accomplished.  Similarly, contracts are entered into each day, across the globe, between individuals, corporate entities and groups formed specifically for business and personal reasons.

Is there a difference between a “vow” and a “contract“?  On a superficial level, the former is viewed as a “higher order” semblance of the latter.  In a deeper sense, that is not only true, but all the more so — or, in erudite form, a fortiori.  For, to vow is to give of one’s self in totality of being; it is a gift of one’s self, often without any expectation of a similar receiving.

In contract law, of course, it is precisely the comparative analysis of a “consideration” provided and received, which determines the viability and sustainability of the agreement itself.  Far too often, Federal and Postal employees see their commitment to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service as a “vow” in employment, as opposed to a contract freely entered into, and just as freely abrogated when the need arises. This is seen when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition and must consider the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

The Federal or Postal employee treats the job as one of a “vow”, as if the significance of clinging on to the position is of greater importance than the detriment manifested to one’s health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, is merely a contractual annuity accorded based upon the status of the individual as a Federal or Postal employee, and further proven by a preponderance of the evidence.  No vows have been exchanged — neither of the silent type, implicit, nor explicit, and certainly not of an unequivocal or unremitting nature.

Contractual terms are meant to be asserted; and one of the provisions of the “contract” for all Federal and Postal employees, is that when the Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, then eligibility for Federal Disability benefits may be invoked.

To accept a contractual provision is never to take advantage of anything, unfairly or otherwise; rather, it is merely a satisfaction of terms. To do otherwise, and to confuse X as Y, as in mistaking a contract for a vow, is merely to bathe in a puddle of muddle-headed thinking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Actions and Principles of Federal Agencies toward Their Employees with Disabilities before FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement

Can a person possess a core principle which declares that one should not be cruel to animals, but yet intimidate and harass a coworker?  Is it possible that one can state adherence to a philosophy, but act in ways contrary to such a declaration of fidelity to such a public policy?  Does authenticity and correlation between words and actions matter?

Of course, the simple answer is that hypocrisy has always been rampant throughout history, and one need only look at politics to come to the conclusion that speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth (as the proverbial adage is often conveyed) is a state of being that one can easily live with.  Thus the conundrum: Every and any question which begins with, “Is it possible that…” is one which has already been answered by the whims of history.

Public policy statements which declare that Federal agencies will seek every “reasonable” effort to accommodate an individual’s disability, are replete but often empty, precisely because words are open to interpretation.  And perhaps that is the “out” which many find easily excusable, in justifying the dissonance between words and actions.

Fortunately, for Federal and Postal employees, there is always the viable option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS. It is the “safety hatch” which can be used against agencies and the U.S. Postal Service in order to circumvent that self-contradicting public policy statement that medical conditions which impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, will be “accommodated” to the extent that such accommodation is “reasonable”.

Since that which is reasonable is open to interpretation, the reality of retaining a Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, becomes as rare as that individual who speaks and acts in consistent harmony of fidelity to both.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, where the impact is felt directly in the workplace, and where the supervisor who kicks his dog in the privacy of his home but volunteers his time with the local SPCA begins to speak earnestly about the “mission of the agency“, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in the end, principles and actions matter when it touches upon one’s personal health, and the need for restorative relief from a workplace which defies consistency of either.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire