Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Agencies and Their Response

Compassion and empathy are commodities discovered rare in form and content, and even scarcer in the wrappings of timeless sincerity.  Individuals in the era of modernity lack any sense of communal obligation, precisely because of the fractured existence which naturally flows from a society built upon independence and self-reliance.

Further, when one encounters an entity, organization, corporate structure, or agency, it becomes that much more removed from any sense of personalized emotional contact, and instead we can deal with unwanted and unwelcome concerns by speaking in neutral platitudes; “the mission of the agency”; “it detracts from the team concept”; “performance-based incentives have not been met”; and on and on.

In the end, it is an antiseptic existence of an impersonal kind, but one which constitutes the reality of who we are.

For Federal and Postal workers who must face the daily grind of working within a bureaucracy which engulfs tens of thousands of workers, the need for simple kindness may be easily rebuffed when a crisis occurs such as the development of a medical condition.

There is, however, “the law” — of Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to every Federal and Postal employee under either FERS or CSRS.  Where compassion ends and the law begins, that available option is considered by a faceless entity as its replacement of the former, in order to neutralize the need for personalization.  Utilizing it and taking advantage of that which is available, is all that one can expect in terms of a human response from one’s agency.  So it is that the Federal and Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, at least has the option at all.

It is a benefit which is filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and can allow for the individual to regain one’s foothold back into the world of sanity, and perhaps onto the pathway of one’s local community.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Narrative & the Audience

Anton Chekhov’s short story, “Grief”, is often accompanied by a subtitle, variously interpreted as, “To whom shall I share my grief?”  It is both about the need inherent in human nature to tell one’s story of grief, as well as the cold, unreceptive world which has no time to hear the story.

As the horse-driven cab picks up various passengers and fares, it becomes clear that the audience to whom the father’s grief must be told, is characterized as unfeeling and uncaring towards a man who has experience a tragedy in life.  It is thus the search for the proper audience — and how the narration must be told, in the right manner, at the proper time, within the appropriate setting.

That is how all stories must be told, including a Federal or Postal Worker’s statement of disability, as formulated on Standard Form 3112A in a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  It is with a heightened sense of sensibility that one must put together the narrative form, with a view towards the audience; what facts and minutiae should be included; with a coherent beginning and an appropriate ending; where to begin and when to end; what details should be included, such that it does not divert one’s attention from the centrality of one’s story; all of this, and much more.

Chekhov teaches us much in his writings; how we apply it in our every day lives is left to the reader — his audience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Collectivism and Suffering

Whatever it is about human nature, the one quality which betrays an inherent dark side is the capacity of a collective group of individuals to “pile on” when an individual is suffering or somehow no longer a member in good-standing with the “group”.

Agencies in the Federal Government, and Postal employees, regularly and systematically engage in such behavior.  While the converse of human nature — of compassion and empathy — certainly reveals itself to counter the negative reflection of human beings, the consistent behavior and actions of Federal agencies to attack, undermine and subvert Federal and Postal employees who are most vulnerable, is a side of human nature which is not, to understate it, very attractive.

Yet, for those Federal or Postal employees who are preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is most often the very entity which should show a level of loyalty and appreciation for past work performed, which engages in a pattern of behavior which can only be described as “mean-spirited” — the ugly side of human nature.

That is why it is often a good idea to have a “buffer” between the Federal or Postal employee and the agency; whether via an attorney, or through some representative.  As the law can be used both as a shield as well as a sword, and as Federal Disability Retirement must be affirmatively proven in order to show eligibility and entitlement, so knowing how to use the law as a sword is an important component in preparing, formulating and filing for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: “If Only They Understood”

Preparation of a paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management must result in a product which is concise, effective and persuasive.  

The last term of the tripartite phrase, “persuasive”, is often the most difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, to objectively assess in a neutral, non-involved manner.  This is because the unrepresented Federal or Postal employee who attempts to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is identical to the subject of the prepared application, and thus often has the approach and attitude of, “If only the case worker at the Office of Personnel Management knew what I am going through.”

Persuasion, the art of persuasion, and effective persuasion are comprised of a delicate balance between saying too little and overstating a case.  It is the ability to convey a state of facts which are confirmed by the medical records; involving a narrative which touches upon empathy, sympathy and a sense of pain or condition which the reader and recipient can somehow relate to; constrains ancillary issues which tend to detract from the central point of the narrative; and concludes with the idea that all of the “legal criteria” have been met.  

Obviously, it is through the power of words which such a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the Office of Personnel Management, must be presented.  When the subject of the words is identical to the author of the words, the emotional turmoil is often mis-directed in the preparation of the Federal Disability Retirement packet.  

In the end, “if only OPM understood” — can become a reality if and only if the applicant understands first the objective legal criteria which must be met; then proceeds to meet those criteria in a systematic, detached manner; yet at the same time understanding the power of persuasion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire