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

Actions and Principles of Federal Agencies toward Their Employees with Disabilities before FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement

Can a person possess a core principle which declares that one should not be cruel to animals, but yet intimidate and harass a coworker?  Is it possible that one can state adherence to a philosophy, but act in ways contrary to such a declaration of fidelity to such a public policy?  Does authenticity and correlation between words and actions matter?

Of course, the simple answer is that hypocrisy has always been rampant throughout history, and one need only look at politics to come to the conclusion that speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth (as the proverbial adage is often conveyed) is a state of being that one can easily live with.  Thus the conundrum: Every and any question which begins with, “Is it possible that…” is one which has already been answered by the whims of history.

Public policy statements which declare that Federal agencies will seek every “reasonable” effort to accommodate an individual’s disability, are replete but often empty, precisely because words are open to interpretation.  And perhaps that is the “out” which many find easily excusable, in justifying the dissonance between words and actions.

Fortunately, for Federal and Postal employees, there is always the viable option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS. It is the “safety hatch” which can be used against agencies and the U.S. Postal Service in order to circumvent that self-contradicting public policy statement that medical conditions which impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, will be “accommodated” to the extent that such accommodation is “reasonable”.

Since that which is reasonable is open to interpretation, the reality of retaining a Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, becomes as rare as that individual who speaks and acts in consistent harmony of fidelity to both.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, where the impact is felt directly in the workplace, and where the supervisor who kicks his dog in the privacy of his home but volunteers his time with the local SPCA begins to speak earnestly about the “mission of the agency“, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in the end, principles and actions matter when it touches upon one’s personal health, and the need for restorative relief from a workplace which defies consistency of either.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Noise of our Lives

Is noisiness determined solely by the physical vibrations and reverberations impacting upon the mechanism of our ears? Can one be overwhelmed by internal noises, shouting and clamor despite sitting in the quietude of a noiseless room? Is it noisier when there are visual activities which seemingly occur simultaneously, such that the combined stimuli of the visual coinciding with the clatter of the surrounding world sprays us with such sensation-overload, like a meteor shower upon a lifeless planet? And do the things we engage in life seem like a hollow shout for help in the middle of the night, when in the still of twilight we fear awakening our loved ones but at the same time provoking the imaginary intruder hiding in wait in the dark recesses of our fearful imaginations?

Often, it is calamities and intercepting issues in life which jolt our consciousness into realizing that much of life is mere clamor, and the majority of movement is meaningless activity upon a treadmill to nowhere. When chronic pain, psychiatric conditions, and medical conditions which impact one’s mind, body and soul, interrupt the flow of mindless activity like a cauldron of shattered pieces from one’s life, there comes a realization that work at the expense of health is simply not worth it.

When that moment of realization arrives, consideration by the Federal and Postal Worker needs to be made, to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS. It is an employment benefit existing to address those very issues of the impact of a medical condition upon one’s capacity and ability to continue to perform the essential elements of one’s job or profession.

It allows for a respite from the cauldron-filled clamor which is stirred and brewed by the witch’s hand of knowledge; and upon a successful attainment of Federal Disability Retirement, it is one’s hope that the Federal or Postal employee hears merely the click of heels, and not the harsh, echoing laughter of an agency which once stood over the stirring pot of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Trifecta

It is a type of betting where the order is important, and where all three must finish as declared, and if any one of the sequence is different, it matters not whether the one correctly deemed to be first, in fact places first.  We often view our lives as if we are engaged in the trifecta; as if the order and sequence makes all the difference, and where misplacement of our artificially prepackaged lives constitutes a complete and utter failure unless such declared sequence of a lifetime of effort comes to fruition.

That is the problem with Federal and Postal employees who hesitate in making an affirmative decision concerning the most serious of issues confronting them. For, as “work” has somehow been ingrained in our very psyche to be first and foremost in commitment, importance, significance and value, as well as that which identifies us and is in many respects the “essence” of who we are (Aristotle would, of course, be flabbergasted by such a statement as a self-contradiction and perhaps an oxymoron because of the irrationality of such a perspective), we thus sacrifice that which should precede (one’s health) over that which must accede (one’s work).

Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option for Federal and Postal employees, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, which must always be considered when first the Federal or Postal employee encounters a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. We give lip service to how important family, health, faith and X are, but our actions belie the true loyalty of our souls.

In a trifecta, one receives the cash rewards of a correctly-declared sequence of contestants; in life, sticking to a self-destructive and irrational sense of loyalty to a vocation, at the expense of one’s health, is to earn a reward of which one may never collect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Asymmetrical Lives

Asymmetrical systems are an important principle which dominates organisms and prevails in the world around us.  Symmetry involves balance and parallelism; a defiance through a counter-symmetrical eruption is normally an anomaly and deviation — a mutation in organic evolution which often results in extinction precisely because it is unnatural.

Humans live according to symmetrical principles.  Symmetry can involve a linear conceptual perspective; of a balance where childhood and youth is represented by X; young adulthood by Y; middle age with Z; and old age in retirement and calm.  But such a perception of linear quietude defies and ignores the realities of life’s disruptions.  Unexpected calamities, such as a car swerving into one’s path on any given day; being fired from a job because of an unforeseen reorganization at the management level; being inflicted with a medical condition such that the medical condition impact’s one’s ability to perform one’s chosen vocation; these are events which violate and infringe upon the linear symmetry we expect in our lives.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suddenly finds that a medical condition is no longer allowing him or her to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the asymmetrical condition is in contrast to others who are healthy, as well as to the expected path of one’s own career.  But in the artificial civilization of man’s own environment, symmetry and its opposite are what we make of it.  Since we are the masters of our own destinies, lack of symmetry does not necessitate extinction of an element of mutation.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee, filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a viable option precisely because it is an administrative process which was created in order to allow for the potential eventuality that some workers may become disabled from being able to fully perform one’s job.

Federal Disability Retirement is a concept which works within the system of asymmetrical principles; taking full advantage of it is precisely the reason why it was formulated in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Universe of the Possible (Part II of II)

When avenues are closed off, the human psyche tends to shut down; and when grounds manifest fertile regeneration and bountiful splendor, the endless state of the possible opens like the gaping eyes of a child in excitable wonderment.  That is why internet companies attempt to artificially recreate atmospheres of creativity and prior glory days of unbounded imaginations.  But whether simulating a couch plopped in one’s basement or garage, and making it appear as if the environment is similar to those past dawns of tinkering with one’s imagination in the unheated, primitive conditions of one’s youth, is questionable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is faced initially with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to continue in the vocation and career choice of one’s following, the limitations which the present condition places upon one’s future often seems daunting.

But there are options available.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for those options to open up; for, once the Federal or Postal employee obtains an approval for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that (now former) Federal or Postal employee may go out into the private sector and earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, on top of the Federal Disability annuity. Many start their own businesses; others perform consultative work or work part time, thereby controlling the stresses and the extent of activity able to be tolerated within the restrictions of one’s medical conditions.

The avenue of the possible can only reopen once you recognize the reality of the probable; and in order to tap into the fertile imaginations of a brighter future, the roadblocks once observed must be moved in order to travel down the path of viable alternative routes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Flashpoint

The flashpoint is the temperature at which an organic compound becomes combustible; during the entire time building up to that point, the rising temperature in combination with the chemical reactiveness of the substance was all the while sitting in preparation for the point of ignition; were there options to pursue prior to the point of ignition?  If there had been a change in chemical make-up, then perhaps the point of temperature-to-combination of substance would have altered, where either a higher or lower flashpoint would occur; or, the rise of the temperature, and the rate of acceleration, could have been changed.

Whatever the needed changes in order to avoid the flashpoint, however, one thing is clear:  the options are limited, and any altered states would merely delay the ultimate event of a flashpoint occurrence.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the flashpoint of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an inevitability which leaves the Federal or Postal employee similarly limited options.

One can continue in the mode of life which one finds one’s self in: of the daily treadmill of suffering through the workday with pain, profound fatigue and progressively debilitated emotional turmoil.  Or, one can wait for the Agency to initiate an adverse action, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), periodic suspensions or reprimands — or removal.  Or, one can begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Limited options do not necessarily constitute a flashpoint of negative consequences; yes, a fire bursting in a home is a tragedy, but then there are controlled fires and even naturally occurring ones in fields of decay which benefit the environment.

It is thus ultimately up to the Federal or Postal employee to determine the point of combustibility, and therefore the timing of the event identified as the flashpoint.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Getting to Your Final Destination

Following a GPS can be a nerve-wracking experience.  Yes, there are ways to override specific elements; yes, you always have to be smarter than the technology which one utilizes; but since we have come to a point in our ordinary lives of placing reliance upon technological efficiency, the natural course of events is to simply enter the vehicle, punch in a destination point, and follow blindly.

It is a metaphor of how we operate in the world in all aspects of our lives; and while we like to engage in self-aggrandizements of how we are the highest beings in intelligence, innovation and inventiveness, the fact of our ordinary lives betrays the simplicity of our mindlessly habitual actions.

Following blindly a GPS is rarely the shortest route; it is never the most efficient way; and it is almost certainly not the road to be taken as the safest course.  Once there, of course, all questions about the manner of “how” one got there, disappears; but it is often important to consider the “how”, and not merely the fact that one got there.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are seeking to obtain a period of respite, it is important to consider “how” one will get there.  Trudging along and slogging through routes without considering the options and avenues will often result in the further deterioration of one’s health.  Mindlessly and repetitively doing the same thing will not advance an individual one iota towards the destination that one seeks.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which should be considered, and whether one is under FERS or CSRS, it is an avenue which may be the singular road which effectively “gets there” for the Federal or Postal Worker who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is an option worth considering, but one which the Federal or Postal Worker must “override” the mindlessness of continuing in the same course as yesterday, and the day before.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Choices Left

Options presented imply the availability of alternative picks; but such choices are real ones only if they don’t magically disappear when asserting one over another.

By analogy, Agencies in a Federal Disability Retirement case may claim that all sorts of accommodations have been attempted and provided; but if an ergonomic chair has been given to an administrative worker who suffers from psychiatric conditions which impact one’s focus, concentration, and cognitive capacities, the irreconcilable lack of correspondence between the attempted aid and the medical condition suffered, amounts to an ineffective attempt at accommodations at best, and at worst, a cruel joke.

But as Agencies enjoy patting themselves on the proverbial back, so statistically they can claim that 99.9% of their employees have been accommodated; it just so happens that either the Federal or Postal employees failed to take advantage of such empathetic attempts by the agency, or were not able to appreciate the full extent of such angelic endeavors.

Many medical conditions, of course, are unresponsive to any such attempts of accommodations, precisely because of the very nature, extent and severity of the conditions themselves.  This leaves one with the only choice left:  to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why the benefit was enacted; as such, there should be no reason why agencies should attempt to subvert or otherwise place obstacles in the quest for a goal which was intended to accommodate such non-accommodatable circumstances.  But then, the test of sincerity is not mere words, which can come cheaply, but through actions, which can result in a stark reality-check.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Often, the Option Was Always Open

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question on Standard Form 3112A which asks for the “approximate date” of when a Federal or Postal employee became disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job can sometimes be rather tricky.

For, quite often, it is not the medical condition itself which drives a Federal or Postal employee to file for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity; rather, it may be external circumstances entirely foreign to the medical condition itself (i.e., actions of the Supervisor, the Agency; changes in work schedules; reinstating other assignments and positional requirements, etc.).

In many cases, the fact is that the Federal or Postal worker may have been eligible to apply for, and successfully obtain, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity for several years — it is just that he or she never exercised the option or right to do so, because the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service allowed for light duty, temporary duty assignments, modified duties, etc. — in other words, a loose network of ad hoc duties aggregately termed as an “accommodation”, but clearly not what would constitute a legally-sufficient accommodation under the law and under the Bracey definition.  But the option to exercise the eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application may have been there for many years, and so the question on SF 3112A may actually require a response indicating many years and months prior to the completion and dating of the form itself.

The fact that a medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job is the qualifying factor in a Federal Disability Retirement application; when to exercise the option to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is a separate issue; and as to the latter, the compelling force may well be issues external to a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire