OPM Medical Retirement Law: The Editorial Process

Every writer dreads the process; on the other side of the proverbial fence, it is the joyful perverseness of the editor, with markers in hand and metaphorical scissors and knives to slash and cut, the necessity of reducing and whittling away the creative volume of words forming descriptive paragraphs and the infancy of a birth of genius, or so one always thinks about one’s own work.

Everyone has a story to tell.  How cogent; whether systematic in logical sequence; the relevance of certain statements, sentences, and sometimes paragraphs and chapters, may undermine the greater purpose for which something is written.

The story to tell must always be refined and bifurcated into categories of recognized goals:  Who is the audience?  What is the purpose of the piece?  Is there a thematic foundation?  Who will be interested?  What is the appropriate forum for publication?  These questions, and many others, are rarely asked (or answered) beyond the egoism of the compelling need to tell.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a story to tell, the telling of the story is often the basis upon which one files for Federal Employees Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Sometimes, the story must be told in another forum — to the Office of Worker’s Compensation, or perhaps to an EEOC venue.  Will the stories change with each telling to a different forum?  Perhaps not the core of the story, but certainly some of the relevant details.

As with preparing and formulating one’s Statement of Disability for a Federal Disability Retirement application, the facts to be told, the focus to be emphasized; these all depend upon the audience of one’s target.  It is not a matter of changing or omitting; it is the necessary editorial process which makes for good print.

For the Federal and Postal employee who tries to go it alone, rarely can one be the writer and editor at the same time; and it is likely the editorial process which results in the successful outcome of any writing endeavor; and while the acclaim and accolades of success spotlight the named individual, the printed byline and the recognized author, it is the behind-the-scenes process which really wins the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Tendencies and First Impressions

First impressions are funny animals; while potentially misguided and fraught with errors, they are difficult to shake off because of our natural inclination to form them.  Tendencies, on the other hand, are established over time, and tend (sic) to reliably reflect a routine of repetitive behavior.  In both cases, they are difficult traits to get rid of, sort of like a nagging cold or a hairball in one’s throat.

For the Federal and Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, both traits are important to recognize.

First impressions — and from knowledge gained over time:  one’s agency; how will one’s supervisor act or react; one’s treating doctor; the extent of support one will receive; they will be the initiating basis and foundation in determining whether to go forward or not.

Tendencies — one’s own; is procrastination a problem?  Is avoidance an issue, such that it is best to jump into the process, knowing that delay is an identified enemy of one’s own best interests?

One’s formed personality and characteristic traits are established early in life; it is the remainder of our lives where we work to understand them, and to undo, supplement, or learn from those early first impressions and tendencies molded into our very being.

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

OPM Disability Retirement: Time, Terms & Conditions

Never wait upon a Federal Agency to determine the time, terms and conditions for filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  While there are rare instances in which a potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement feels an utmost sense of loyalty, such that he or she absolutely must inform the Agency of the impending desire and intent to file an application for disability retirement, in most cases it will simply backfire.  Yes, there are those rare instances when an Agency reciprocates the many years of loyalty given; but even in those rare instances, there is nothing that the Agency can do which is of such value in a Federal Disability Retirement case which would warrant or justify the anticipatory probability that the reaction to such information may be to have enough preparatory time to undermine such an application.  Yes, the Supervisor’s Statement could be helpful — but won’t the supervisor likely be helpful anyway, if he or she already has such a reputation, whether or not a potential applicant informs the agency (via the supervisor) a month or two beforehand?  It is the applicant who is always at the disadvantage; as such, the applicant who intends to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should be the one who controls the time, terms and conditions of when the Agency will be informed of any potential disability retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Right Timing

Timing the preparation and submission, and ultimate separation/retirement from Federal Service in getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is rarely a method of precision; it is closer to art than it is to science.  That is because there is the “human” element involved — of when does the medical condition reach its critical point where one cannot withstand the daily and chronic pain; is the doctor ready to support the Federal Disability Retirement application; is the Agency sympathetic or suspicious; can the reduced finances be worked out for a livable standard of living; will the future allow for all of the elements to coalesce? 

There are many, many such human elements which must come into play.  All too often, however, the “right time” for contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is simply determined by external circumstances, such as reaching a critical point in one’s medical condition such that there is simply no other choice left, as opposed to being able to rationally and calmly make an affirmative decision for one’s future.  Whatever may be the particular and peculiar circumstances of a given Federal or Postal employee, the time to consider preparing a Federal disability retirement application must be a decision made by each individual, based upon that individual’s unique circumstances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire