Federal Disability Retirement: Nature’s Purposive Divide

Teleological ascription accounts for the rational foundation behind the activity of an organism, and explains the “why”, but not that it necessarily “is” or how it came to be.  Inertia is the very opposite, or perhaps in Heidegger’s universe, the “nothingness” as opposed to “being”.  When bees swarm in a frenzy, there is a “reason” for their activity; and just as the skittishness of a herd portends a sensing of danger, so the aggregation of ants streaming back and forth from a given point normally means a food source attracting for plunder.

We may speak about these occurrences in academic and esoteric ways, but the underlying foundation to it all is actually quite simple, but not necessarily simplistic:  Nature provides for a purpose to pursue, and that is what divides the living from the inertia which surrounds us.  And the rule of Nature and the idea of teleological impulse is that, when we lose that purposive divide, we become like the non-living substance which everywhere reminds us of the corollary of life:  death, and the loss of one’s soul.

Constancy of deterioration, progressive destruction, systematic downgrading, and persistent harassment can dampen the soul; but it is ultimately the loss of Nature’s purposive divide which finally stamps out the glowing flame within one’s soul.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, unbeknownst because of the flurry of daily activity, it is often the meaningfulness of the work one engages, which provides for that teleological impulse.  When a medical condition begins to pervade, and systematically denigrate and degrade the quality of that aspect of meaningfulness, and further, when the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service constantly and persistently acts to exacerbate and rob one’s joy of the projects of life, then it is time to consider 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.

Federal Disability Retirement through OPM allows for a further teleological chance and opportunity, by first securing a lifetime annuity, then allowing for earning income in the private sector and beginning a second career or vocation.  While many may not consider the securing of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity as a meaningful endeavor for one’s financial security, it is precisely the stability of income which allows for the Federal or Postal employee to turn one’s energies upon other and more important things, and to allow for Nature’s purposive divide to propel one forth into the community of men and women who separate themselves from the mass of humanity who see drones and crestfallen vestiges of souls who once rushed where fools had remained and lost that flickering flame of teleological pull.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: The Reset Button

We often hear in geopolitical circles about international relations taking a fresh turn because of a metaphorical and figurative ”reset” button which has been pushed.

Whether any substantive changes have taken place; regardless of an alteration in the behavior of one or both parties; the important event which seems to predominate in such declarations of a new partnership or alliance, is that the words which are spoken are now rearranged, and the harsh language of previous decades, or perhaps not even a fortnight ago, reflects a forgiven past with happy days ahead.

Often, however, the lack of substantive change manifests itself quite quickly, as words have the extent of impact only within the context of that momentary declaration of purpose.  Beyond the statement itself, unless the alteration itself is imposed upon the substantive behavior of the individual, group, entity or country, the reality of an unchanged heart slowly reveals its true nature as circumstances test the essence of who or what a person or country truly represents.

The real problem with the concept of a “reset” button is that it only works if both parties to an accord push the metaphorical object.  Eagerness by one side to declare the change of relationship is often the rule, while the “other” party who is the one who really needs the resetting of behavior stands by in silent indifference with a wry smile.  Ultimately, it is the need for change which underlies the entire resetting of a relationship.

For Federal and Postal employees who have come to a point in their career where a medical condition continues to impact the ability to perform the essential elements of their job and positional duties, the proposal and imposition of adverse actions, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (commonly known as a “PIP”); suspensions; letters of reprimands; Leave Usage Restrictions; or Proposed Removals — all are actions by the agency which reveal that a resetting of the relationship between the agency and the individual is sorely in need.

The ultimate tool for that resetting of the relationship, is for the Federal and Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.  While taking such a step may not alter the behavior of the agency, it at least changes the relationship by letting the agency know that the underlying medical condition is the primary cause for the deterioration of the employer/employee relationship, and further, that the severing of ties will be the ultimate outcome.

Moreover, in the case of an OPM Disability Retirement, the pushing of the reset button is never to change the relationship for the benefit of the agency, but merely to change the relationship itself in order for the Federal or Postal employee to attend to the substantive importance of one’s health and wellbeing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: “What If” Scenarios

The problem with “what if” scenarios is that they rely upon fear.  What if I file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the agency then removes me?  What if I file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and OWCP decides to send me to a Second-Opinion doctor and begins the process of trying to get me off of their rolls?

Fear and the anticipation of unknown future events is often the trigger-mechanism to prevent a person from acting.  The fallacy of making decisions based upon such fear factors, however, is an obvious one:  The agency can begin the process of removal with or without the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement (because of one’s medical conditions, his or her attendance, overuse of sick leave, less than full performance of duties, etc., is normally quite obvious to the agency already, anyway); OWCP can send the Federal or Postal employee to a second-opinion doctor or cut off benefits arbitrarily with or without the Federal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and in general terms, “what if” scenarios can occur even if the event in question is never pursued.

Fear is the factor which bullies, totalitarian regimes, and Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service relies upon.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is merely the great equalizer against the fear factor.  That which can happen regardless of a triggering event, will occur anyway; so the logical conclusion should be to decide to file for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits in order to acquire the “safety-net” against the future possibility (and probability) of adverse actions which the Agency is already likely contemplating.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Social Isolation

Federal and Postal employees who contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, often feel a profound sense of isolation.

First, of course, the agency itself has a tendency to treat the medically disabled Federal or Postal employee as a pariah; that, somehow, suffering from a medical condition is within the control of the sufferer.

Then, if the agency is informed of the very intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then certain consequential actions often follow:  a PIP may be imposed; leave restrictions may be enforced; an adverse action may be proposed, including a removal — often based not upon the medical condition, but all sorts of “other reasons” that have been tabulated, memorialized and recorded, by supervisors and fellow co-workers.  Yes, there is FMLA; yes, the Federal or Postal employee may file an EEO action or other potential lawsuit; but such counteractions fail to mitigate the sense of isolation and separation that the Federal or Postal employee feels, from an agency which he or she has expended one’s life and energies to advance for the cause of one’s career.

Third, when the Federal or Postal employee finally files with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM’s non-responsive attitude further exacerbates the sense of isolation.  A sense of closure is what one desires; of being able to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then to move on with life into the next phase of a vocation, the next step beyond.

One should always remember:  It is the very act of filing which is the first step in overcoming the profound sense of isolation; for, the act itself and the decision to move beyond, is the affirmative indicator that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Automatic Pilot

There is the classic story of the man who sued the seller of his Recreational Vehicle:  Having been told that his RV could be driven on “automatic cruise control”, he proceeded to follow the directions, then got up and walked towards the back of the RV in order to make some coffee.  He mistakenly interpreted what the salesman had said, that the vehicle “drives itself”.

While partially true, what he failed to understand is that the “pilot” of the vehicle still needed to steer the vehicle; it was merely the forward motion which was on automatic pilot — not where the vehicle was going.  The two distinguishing features — the “what” of X (the occurrence of a running engine and movement) and the “where” of X (the direction in which the vehicle is going) — should never be confused.

Similarly, the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, should never confuse the fact that he may still have a job, with the danger of not knowing what direction the agency is considering with respect to the employee.

Smiles and inquiries about one’s medical condition are niceties which are often indicators of a deeper motivation.  What the Supervisor “says” in showing concern about one’s medical condition, may betray a directional change which may never be overtly stated.  Waiting to suddenly one day have a collision with the agency may not be the best approach in preparing for one’s future.

While it is true that all Federal and Postal employees have up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM from the date of separation from service, you might consider being the pilot of that endeavor, instead of waiting for a sudden crash with the agency to occur.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Agency Actions & OPM

The argument in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS goes as follows:  An Agency has determined that a Federal or Postal employee is medically unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; that Federal or Postal employee cannot be accommodated; the case-law states that, at a minimum, the agency conclusions have a persuasive effect upon a Federal Disability Retirement application; ergo, the Office of Personnel Management should approve the Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS.

The problem with such an argument, if relied upon exclusively, is threefold:  (1)  The statutory mandate as to which agency makes a determination upon a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is misplaced, (2) The Agency, whether the Flight Surgeon at the FAA who determines that an Air Traffic Controller is medically unqualified to continue in his or her job, or the Postal Service who determines pursuant to the National Reassessment Process (NRP) that there is no longer a job available at the Postal Service, or any other agency which determines that no accommodations can be provided — has not applied all of the legal criteria under the laws and statutes governing Federal Disability Retirement applications, and (3) the focus from the perspective of the agency is a “second-tier” focus — of whether an accommodation can be provided to the Federal or Postal employee to see if the efficiency of the Agency can continue, as opposed to the “first-tier” issue of whether the Federal or Postal employee has a medical condition such that it satisfies all of the criteria for a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

As such, it is the focus of the respective agencies which differentiate the possibility of an agency action being merely persuasive, as opposed to determinative, in a Federal Disability Retirement applicationunder either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Agency Removal & Resignation

Whether an Agency is willing to wait while a Federal or Postal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, or if removal becomes the preferred action, is always a concern to the Federal or Postal employee.  

Often, no matter what medical documentation is submitted as documentary proof of one’s inability to come to work, an Agency will insist that a Federal employee is “AWOL” because of some minutiae or technicality in the paperwork provided.  Regardless (no, I will not use the grammatically incorrect non-word, “irregardless”, which is a combined double-negative of the suffix and prefix, leaving the root word “regarding” intact, thereby making irrelevant the necessity of both the prefix and the suffix) of the Agency’s actions, it is important for the Federal or Postal employee to proceed with his or her Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Attempting to predict how the agency will act or react; waiting upon an Agency’s response — ultimately, one must proceed affirmatively and not be concerned with what the Agency will or will not do.  Concurrently, however, the Federal or Postal employee should respond to an Agency’s removal actions.  

Sometimes, if in fact the Agency is able to produce sufficient “evidence” to justify an adverse removal action (lack of sufficient notice; lack of medical justification submitted in a timely manner; violation of PIP provisions; violation of previously-imposed leave restrictions, etc.), an offer of resignation in order to maintain the official personnel file “clean” of any such adverse actions, is a reasonable course to take, both for the Agency as well as for the Federal or Postal employee.  

More often than not, the Agency will be responsive to opening a discussion for a mutually beneficial removal based upon one’s medical inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  Since the same medical documentation to prove one’s medical disability retirement application should be sufficient to justify such a removal, the timing of such a removal could not be better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire