The “Nuclear Option” after an Illness or Injury in the Federal or Postal Workplace

It is a parliamentary procedure justified by those who invoke it because the circumstances are of such dire contextual urgencies as to necessitate extreme measures.  Such urgency of action is often characterized in a vacuum — a declarative shrill of voices that such an option could not be helped because of the counteraction (or non-action) of the opponent.

Medical conditions have a true tendency to do just that.  Insidious in their inherent nature, they persistent despite every application of treatment modalities, leaving behind confounded minds who spent years and unaccounted energies and accumulated student debt in order to attain the medical knowledge to combat such conundrums of configured confusions.

For Federal and Postal employees 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 Federal or Postal job, the invocation of the nuclear option is often seen as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

Such a characterization is an acknowledgment that the option chosen is one of “extreme” measures, forced because of a lack of choice.  But that would be a misnomer.  For, the “extreme” measure taken would actually be the other options remaining: Stay with an agency and struggle each day while attempting to ignore the pain of progressive physical deterioration or the despondency of psychiatric turmoil, and continue to be subjected to the constant and persistent harassment by supervisors and coworkers; or resign, walk away, and have nothing to show for the years of invested sacrifices given to one’s Federal agency or Postal Service.

No — the “nuclear option” for a Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not the preparation and submission of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application; rather, such an option is best characterized by the other options remaining.  In the end, it is how one characterizes one life, which forms the true character of the individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Suspect

Newspaper stories are replete with articles involving scams, dishonesty and crimes of financial improprieties; that is not surprising, given the nature of what constitutes “newsworthiness”.  Fraudulent claims involving disability applications are trumpeted loudly to reveal the disintegration of a system requiring structural integrity.  Of course, no one makes the distinction that such claims of fraud almost always involves the “other” disability system, and not the option available to Federal and Postal employees through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Just as all politicians are lumped together, so the aggregation and broad-painted brushing of anyone receiving a “disability” annuity is to be expected.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a different animal from the “other” disability system, and with good cause:

First, Federal and Postal employees do not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits until and unless it becomes a necessary option to take.  The general public cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, they complain that Federal and Postal employees have it “easy” with their Federal or Postal jobs; on the other hand, they grumble that receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits is taken advantage of by unscrupulous Federal and Postal employees. But if the employment itself is so easy, why would the Federal or Postal Worker take a lesser income by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  The fact is that most Federal and Postal employees work hard, and well beyond their rate of compensation, in furthering the mission of their agency or department; and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the furthest thing from the mindset of a Federal or Postal employee.

Second, because of the reduction of income accorded by an approved Federal Disability Retirement, many Federal and Postal employees must go out and seek employment in the private sector.  Yes, they can continue to receive the disability annuity so long as they remain under 80% of what the former Federal or Postal position currently pays; and yes, the combination of both the annuity and the employment income can aggregately comprise more than what the former Federal or Postal position was paying; but that is the very attractiveness and intelligence of the incentivized system. It encourages the Federal and Postal Worker to remain productive, and to “pay back” into the system. In essence, it is a self-paying enterprise.

And, Third, because Federal Disability Retirement recognizes that the disability is tied to a particular kind of job, there is very little room for abuse within the system.  One is encouraged to remain productive, and such an incentive allows for the system to remain economically viable.

In these difficult economic times, people are often afraid of considering filing for “disability” benefits; but for Federal and Postal employees who have given their time, life and (often) health in the pursuance of an agency’s mission, being treated like a “suspect” in a broadly-painted indictment is not only unfair, but reprehensible.  The Federal and Postal Worker has nothing to be ashamed about, and the fact that the general public may harbor some hidden resentments during these trying economic times, is merely a reflection upon the often petty nature of humanity, and not a true gauge of the work ethic of Federal and Postal employees throughout the country.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Unchosen

It is a term and concept which denotes a negation of what once was; like an unfinished paragraph or a torn page in a novel, the act of undermining and incompleteness is implied; and so the reader will never know the full story or the thoughts once surfaced but buried forever in the settled dust of time.  A career cut short; quiet whispers of, “and he was such a promising young man…”

Federal and Postal Workers who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, fit nicely into that category of the unchosen.  Once part of the workforce, the need to detach, separate, and move on to another and different phase of life, career, vocation and stage — all are aggregately bundled into the entire process of separation from an organization which once chose, but because of circumstances beyond one’s immediate control, ascribed with the prefatory negation of that which once was.

When a medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the Federal employee has few choices.  Continue on as one of the chosen; walk away with nothing to show for it; allow the agency to determine the time and place of becoming one of the unchosen; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and have some semblance and control of being the master of one’s destiny and future.

Becoming the unchosen may begin with a preface of negation; it is up to the Federal and Postal Worker to replace the torn page, and complete the unfinished paragraph.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Cognitive Dissonance

In psychology, it is the state of self-contradiction, of holding onto a belief while simultaneously acting in a manner contrary to that belief.  If such a contradiction between belief-and-action impacts upon a core, foundational essence, of one which constitutes a defining centrality of a person’s character and personality of that which makes a person who he or she identifies him/herself to be, then the greater proportionality of discomfort and stress, often resulting in an alteration of either the belief, or the action intended to be engaged.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who experiences a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, such cognitive dissonance is an everyday, common occurrence. You already know that continuation in the position as a Federal or Postal Worker cannot continue; you do not need a medical doctor to tell you that; your body, mind or soul has already screamed that dissonance out at you multiple times, at varying degrees of decibels countlessly and in monotonously repetitive occurrences throughout each day over many months, and sometimes enduring over several years.

But the belief-system of the Federal or Postal Worker is to silently “take it”, and to continue on, with a self-destructive sense of blind loyalty in an effort to “accomplish the mission”; but the question always is, At what price?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, is an option which must be seriously considered when the extent of cognitive dissonance comes to a crisis point. It is the point of reference where one finally comes to recognize that the problem requires a solution — of abandoning the senseless embracing of blind loyalty and seeking a period of reclamation of one’s physical and mental health; or of continuing on the path of self-immolation in the Federal or Postal position of one’s chosen career.

Federal Disability Retirement: it is the bridge which one must pass upon to close the chasm between what one’s health screams out for, and the daily toil of one’s occupational duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Waiting for the Perfect Storm

Calamities can be admired, if from a distance; and the labeling of a natural event as the “perfect storm” reveals a conceptual sense of awe for that which is at once destructive, but simultaneously of sufficient power as to demand respect. It has come to mean the coalescence of elements and circumstances which, each in their individually separate characteristic, may result in a force of some sufficiency, but in the collective combination, enhances an exponential magnitude well beyond the capability of potency generally imagined.

Such occurrences are rare, and the statistical chances of attaining such perfection of disparate elements to be coordinated in time, space and defying potential variances, results in the rare aberration of such events. To wait upon such an historical event is to defy the odds; to expect to witness one in one’s lifetime is to disregard the astronomical statistical anomalies.

Such rarity of events, however, are just as often ignored in other arenas of life, though perhaps of lesser impact upon the world at large, including personal calamities involving the introduction of a medical condition which impacts one’s life. Federal and Postal Workers who are beset with a medical condition such that the injury, disability or progressively deteriorating condition may prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties for the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, will often engage in procrastination in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, by waiting upon the coalescence of all elements to a point of perfection — of waiting, in essence, upon the occurrence of the perfect storm.

Such delay is merely an excuse to fail to act, precisely because the coordinated combination will almost always have some elements missing. In responding to a crisis, there is rarely a right time; instead, the very definition of a crisis involves the rarity of the event, guided by the timeliness of an action in order to avoid the beauty and destructive force of that perfect storm.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Decorative Bookends

Such a niche industry, whether by individual craftsmen or in factory output, must have recognized years ago that trouble lay ahead.  For, with the transfer of the reading public (which in itself is shrinking daily) from paper to electronic medium in the form of ebooks, the need for such anachronisms has diminished and is on its way to extinction.

Such objects were never at the forefront of civilization’s advancement or representative of its superior culture. Unlike the Model-T, military arsenals and the advent of tabletop computers, one cannot point to them and say, “Now that was the beginning of the industrial age, the technological age, the age of modern warfare“, etc.  Instead, bookends were purchased and displayed for a quiet, unassuming, utilitarian purpose: to help books remaining standing.  One rarely went into a store and bought only a single bookend; they come in pairs, and when one of the pairs is lost or damaged, then both became less of value in terms of everyday utility.

In going through basic training in the military, a similar concept was hammered: of pairing soldiers together and working in tandem to advance towards an enemy position.  Marriage is sort of like that; the cooperation, not the warfare (although some would point more to the latter than the former as representing the institution).  And so the statistical sales of bookends has been steadily declining.

Often, for Federal and Postal employees who come to a critical point of needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the metaphorical association to the uselessness of bookends in modernity is obvious: the agency no longer supports the Federal or Postal Worker, neither in words nor in deed, and one can easily forecast the future value of one’s continuing presence. With the loss of such support, one feels like the singular bookend.

When that loss of agency support occurs, it is time for the Federal and Postal Worker to consider that option which exists precisely for that moment: to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Work is important, but health so much more. When the bookend of the agency is lost or damaged, then one is looking at holding up one side of the spectrum.

Oh, and that metaphorical concept of the “buddy” system, taught in tactical military training? Like the singular bookend which can only hold up the rear, that’s precisely what the Federal or Postal Worker must look out for when once a medical condition is revealed to an uncaring Federal Agency or Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire