Resigning from a Federal Position Due to a Medical Condition

To resign is often considered the last vestiges of giving up hope; somehow, it contradicts our DNA, and the resistance to it reinforces the Darwinian idea that the evolutionary drive for survival rules our choices, as determinism persists despite our best efforts to remain free.  To resign is to give in, surrender, abandon the lifelong plans and dreams for the future; it marks, for many, a decision of raising the white flag.  In life, however, sometimes the choices offered are but a few, and within that limited arena of options, the best must be taken.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal worker from performing the full panoply of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it sometimes becomes necessary to “cut the losses” and move onward to other ventures in life.

When the level of harassment becomes untenable; when the best negotiations lead to the Agency’s offer of resignation in order to keep the record “clean”; when access to one’s TSP is necessary in order to survive the long period of waiting for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to decide upon a Federal Disability Retirement application; or even when the constant “fight” is no longer worth it, or is not there within one’s self; then the only thing left is the proper characterization of such a resignation, for inclusion as a short statement on one’s SF 50 or PS Form 50.

Depending upon the particularized circumstances, a resignation is not always a surrender, but merely a regrouping in order to return to resume the fight of life on another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from Federal Employment and Filing for OPM Disability Retirement

Resignation is what the adversary wants; it is rarely an innate condition of the human animal.  Whether one believes in the evolutionary process of incremental genetic adaption, progression and determinism, or that the gods of traditional theology puts forth a teleological foundation, the concept of “giving up” possesses an inherent shrinking away, a repugnance and a natural inhibitor to an act which constitutes surrender and, in some corners of thought, betrayal to self.

But the will of human beings is what separates from the genus of that which we derive; and as monks can defy instinct and sit in burning bonfires of self-immolation, and sheer determination of will-power can overcome fear, the rush of adrenaline and the propulsion of compulsive irrationality through reasoned guidance, so there may be times when resignation carries with it a compelling basis which justifies the action.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of resignation is often at the forefront for multiple and varied reasons:  the agency often suggests it (which, in and of itself, should not be a basis for acting, as the self-interest of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service should not be the paramount concern during such a time of turmoil when a medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); where all Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA rights have been exhausted, and the inability to maintain a regular work schedule has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary actions by the agency (here, the language contained in any such action proposed by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be of some use in a Federal Disability Retirement application); or where other pragmatic decisions may be contemplated, such as the ability to access one’s TSP in order to financially survive during the process of waiting for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, as well as multiple other unnamed reasons too numerous to discuss within the confines of this limited forum.

Whatever the underlying reasons and rationale, there is often an instinctive reaction, a repugnance and resistance, in engaging an act which is tantamount to surrendering one’s career and “walking away”.  There may, in the end, be compelling reasons to perform such an act, and not all actions involving resignation constitute a reflection of a desperate need.  If reviewed calmly, and decided rationally after due consideration of all of the factors and elements involved, such an act of apparent self-destruction may in fact be the most prudent course of action which perpetuates the genetically-determined embracing of evolutionary survivability, or the voice of gods long whispering in the echoing reverberations of Dante’s concentric circles of ever-impending escape from the fires of hell.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Until Sickness, Death or Getting Fat

It was once that marriage vows were viewed as sacrosanct; inviolable promises made, endured through hardship, bilaterally seen as a partnership made in heaven.

Then, of course, “no fault” divorces became the fashion; fashion itself (or lack thereof) was a grounds for de-coupling or un-coupling (it is difficult to keep up with the modern vernacular and introduction of new-age language); and so people began to “drift apart” and expunge from such eternal vows undesirable concepts such as “death” or “sickness” (for, as marriage ceremonies are supposed to be “happy” occasions, why insert such negative vibes into the mix?), but implicitly left in the ultimate ground and justification: getting fat (or old, or ugly).

A parallel approach is often taken in the employment arena: your loyalty is expected, but if you fail to produce, you can be terminated.  Whether such pervasive attitudes become commonplace because of the “throw-away” nature of goods purchased and items sold in the universe of commerce, is for social anthropologists to debate; the fact is, the issue can be viewed from both sides: from the employer’s perspective, too many employees jump ship soon after being trained and invested, seeking other opportunities and offers.

But that leaves us in the state of our being and choosing: both in family life and in careers, the fickle and unsteady nature of either reflects the very society in which we participate.

Businesses are rarely run like families — or, perhaps a truer statement these days is that, yes, they are run exactly like families, and quick divorces for the most spurious of reasons are sought and attained.  For the Federal and Postal Worker who finds him/herself with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is a price to pay for being a part of such a fickle system.

Federal employment is merely a microcosm of the greater system of employment encompassing Federal, State and private-sector economies; loyalty is no more precious in one sector than another.

From the Federal or Postal employee’s perspective, Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be an option which should be considered when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  From the Federal agency’s perspective, Federal Disability Retirement should be viewed as part of the larger promise of Federal employment benefits contractually offered, and when one partakes of accessing the promise, there should not be any grumbling, complaining, or retribution and retaliatory measures invoked.

But somehow, reality rarely follows the path of rationality.  As such, just as in messy divorces and other venues of uncoupling, one should always be cautious in whom to confide in, what to say, and when to reveal.  Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, and is sought and obtained through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

While not as sacrosanct as marriage vows of yore, it is also not as fickle or easy to get because one has gained a little weight over the years. As such, any such attempt to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits should be taken seriously and with deliberate care; sort of like what one should do before heading off to Las Vegas for a quick coupling, or uncoupling, whichever the case may be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Termination

Termination for the Federal or Postal employee should generate an administrative personnel action reflected in an SF 50 or PS Form 50, showing the date of the action, the nature of the issuance and the reason for the administrative process which is initiated and culminated.  Without it, technically no such action occurred.  However, there are cases where such a form has not been produced.

Further, such a personnel initiation is rarely issued in a vacuum; for a Federal employee to be terminated, there are certain procedural hurdles which are normally provided — an issuance first of a proposed termination, and the basis for such a personnel action, and one to which the addressee has a right to respond to within a specified period of days or weeks.  Thereafter, consideration must be given by the Agency in the response, whether verbal, written or both, given by the Federal or Postal employee.

Subsequently, when a termination is effectuated, an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 will be generated.  From that date of termination, the Federal or Postal employee has up to one year to file for disability benefits.

If such filing occurs after 31 days of the official termination date, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

If prior to 31 days, it can be processed through one’s former agency — although, such a filing should be carefully monitored, as one’s former agency may not process it with any urgency, and in the event that it is not forwarded to OPM within the other 11 months and some-odd days left, there will be a question as to whether it was timely filed at all.

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

OPM Disability Retirement: The Meaning of Separation from Service

The 1-year rule, or more properly, the Statute of Limitations, continues to be confused at various levels.  The beginning point in understanding the rule must always be to first clarify what constitutes the trigger-point; for, if one does not know what represents the first day of the year, how can one calculate the remaining 364 days?

First, in negative form:  Being on LWOP, Sick Leave, or any time of leave, does not constitute a separation from service.  Indeed, logically, if one reflects upon it for a moment, the very fact that one is on some type of leave would imply that one is on leave “from” an agency, thereby inferring that no separation from service has yet occurred.  Thus, separation from Federal Service is an event which occurs when a Federal or Postal employee affirmatively resigns; is issued a termination or separation letter; or is issued a personnel action on an SF Form 50 or PS Form 50, showing that Federal or Postal employment has been terminated.

For Postal employees, if you continue to receive a “0”-balance pay stub, it likely means that you have not yet been separated.

Obviously, for Federal Disability Retirement purposes, whether under FERS or CSRS, knowing whether or not you are separated from Federal Service is important, because the Office of Personnel Management will not make a determination on the substantive basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application if it has been filed in an untimely manner (i.e., after a year has passed from the date of separation).

Then, of course, there is also the “other” 1-year rule, of showing that one’s medical condition will last for a minimum of 12 months.  But let us not get ahead of ourselves and confuse and conflate the two.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: To Resign, or Not

The question of whether a Federal or Postal employee should (or should not) resign from the job is one which cannot be answered in a vacuum.  Various considerations should be taken into account, but generally speaking, the rule of thumb which the undersigned writer poses in any circumstance is:  What is the compelling reason to do so, such that by resigning, one triggers the Statute of Limitations on filing for Federal Disability Retirement?

Certainly, there are dire circumstances which may necessitate a resignation: being able to access TSP funds because one cannot work because of one’s medical conditions, and one has no other means of support during the process; a pending non-medical adverse action which cannot reasonably be argued against, which may collaterally impact a Federal Disability Retirement application, with a settlement choice to resign for “medical reasons”; and some similar factual scenarios which may indeed warrant and dictate a resignation.

On the other hand, by remaining on the rolls of the Federal sector job, there are multiple advantages which may unfold for the future, including the assertion of the Bruner Presumption when the Federal Agency realizes that the Federal Disability Retirement package clearly shows an inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job and proceeds to remove the Federal or Postal worker based upon the medical inability to perform; a lack of triggering the Statute of Limitations, thereby extending the timeframe for multiple future attempts in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and other issues which need to be considered.

Resignation is an event of certainty, with no reversal; and in all such certainties, it should be done only if compelled by circumstances, facts and considered thoughtfulness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire