Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Environment

There is pervasive talk about the importance of containing toxic waste dumps, keeping our air and water clean; of limiting the dumping of animal feces into our oceans, rivers, streams, etc.; and, indeed, there are agencies and departments created by State, Federal and Local governments devoted to enforcing laws designed to protect us and preserve the pristine condition of our “environment”.

But what of toxic environments of another sort?  What of the poison inserted through malicious intent?  Of the constant harassment and hostility used to intimidate, cower and attain submissive unraveling of defiance?  For those, there are designated courts, commissions and laws passed to protect, for purposes of prosecution and pursuit of money damages.  Of course, the results from either and both arenas of judicial relief are difficult to quantify; whether and to what extent pollutants were introduced into the environment, and by whom; or of what level of toxicity caused harm and damage to an individual; the qualitative measure of damages is always difficult to ascertain.

It is, ultimately, only from the personal perspective and experience that one can gauge the damaging results.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a parallel track of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits and concurrently to go after the individuals or organization that discriminated because of the disability acknowledged and recognized.  For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to secure some semblance of “justice” in the process, the goal of the law has been misdiagnosed:  Justice is not the stated teleological motivation of statutory relief; rather, it is a means to appease.

But at what cost?  To what end?  By whose measure?

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, sets a specific goal:  cut one’s losses and move on in one’s life.  By filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee is able to leave the toxic environment which may have even contributed to one’s medical condition or disability, or at the very least, exacerbated it; by fighting it, one must remain within the very environment which one is attempting to escape from.

Like Father Damien of Molokai who helped lepers live with dignity as a separate individual from without, but who later contracted the disease and died as “one of them” within, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may want to consider the consequences of the dual track of environmental toxicity before taking on a behemoth of mythical proportions, as opposed to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to exit the poisoning atmosphere.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The View from the Balcony of One’s Soul

It can only be in metaphorical terms by which we express such sentiments; and some recent essays have contended that true comprehension within the context of any language game requires, by necessity and tautological argument, metaphors.

The concept of one’s “soul” itself may be entirely metaphorical — or a simile of sorts — and placed within the context of the physical terrain of a balcony, the combination of the immaterial with the material presents an image beyond mere fanciful flights of the imagination, but taxes the capacity of the human intellect to corners of comprehension stretched to its outer limits.  For, the balcony is that arena of observatory quietude from which the vantage point of reflection occurs; and the soul represents the essence of a person’s being.  Thus, for the soul (the core of one’s humanity) to view the objective world from a balcony (the vantage point of reflective quietude), is to present a moment of profound insight.  It is, indeed, for those rare moments which make life worthwhile.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 positional duties within the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, it is this loss of “balcony-perspective” which often compels one to act.  Or, conversely, there is sometimes a moment of such vantage-point realization, seen through the onerous veil of pain, stress, cognitive cloudiness or downtrodden days of breakdowns and distress depleted through progressive deterioration of mind, body, emotion and flat effect; in a moment of cohesive clarity, one can come to the recognition that life cannot be defined by work, and the worth of one’s humanity should not be determined by how much one can withstand the humiliation incurred by supervisors, managers, coworkers and hostile environments which refuse to let up or cease in their incessant poundings.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often only the first step towards recovery from a process which began years ago.  Some time ago — and time becomes a maze of forgotten refrains when one must contend on a daily basis with a medical condition which impacts one’s capacity to engage in gainful employment — there were moments when the view from one’s balcony provided that momentary quietude of reflection; and then the erasures of life began to rub away the humanity of one’s essence, to a point where one’s soul began to hurt, to suffer, and to sob in silent shudders of dry heaving for that loss of self.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may not be the ultimate solution for every Federal and Postal employee, but it is often a start.  That start will, at a minimum, allow one to again view the world around us from the balcony of one’s soul, which is the true vantage point for all of us who still retain a semblance of humanity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Catch of the Day

Restaurants announce it; law enforcement offices declare it; con artists make a living by it; and agencies sneeringly pounce upon them. They are the designated focus for the day, often longer, and sometimes until they disappear from the depths of abundance which the season and migration of schools allow.

When one is a Federal or Postal Worker, becoming the “catch of the day” can mean that you are the targeted one; the one whom harassment and daily persecution becomes the norm and routine, and having such a reputation allows for the safe haven of others who exhale a loud sigh of relief for being spared such an ignoble designation. Once the target, agencies never let up. Whether it leads to a PIP, multiple suspensions, letters of reprimand, sick and annual leave restrictions on usage, doesn’t quite seem to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the persecutors.

Yes, there are some countermanding moves: EEO complaints; grievance procedures filed; even lawsuits and resulting awards of significant verdicts, on rare but victorious occasions. But the human toil expended rarely justifies such moments of rare glory; and for the individual who suffers from a medical condition, the juggernaut of the agency’s reserves and reservoir of implements and infinite resources of persecution means that a time of respite is merely temporary.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which one must consider when the coalescence of a medical condition, agency actions, and the recognition that one is unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, comes to a tripartite sequence of combined consonance.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has the opportunity to receive an annuity, and still go out and begin a new career in the private sector, and make up to 80 percent of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.  It is a consideration which should always remain a viable option, lest one’s picture remain with a bullseye depiction alongside the declaration that you are the agency’s “catch of the day”.

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 Employee Medical Retirement: The Potential Drawback

One of the potential drawbacks in pursuing collateral employment issues concomitantly with a Federal Disability Retirement application is that, as such employment issues are active and clearly in the collective consciousness of the Agency, the Supervisor, and all involved, the issue itself often gets sneaked into a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS via the back door.  

This is not necessarily a negative thing, but can be a potential drawback if the Supervisor insists upon inserting the details of the collateral action in the Supervisor’s Statement.  Whether such insertion and accompaniment with a Federal Disability Retirement application is “proper” or not, is a separate matter.  From the perspective of the applicant who is awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management, it matters not as to the proper actions of the Agency.  What such actions by the rogue supervisor does, is to deflect the focus away from the medical issue, and redirects the reviewing official/representative at OPM that the “reason” for one’s early retirement is not one based upon a medical issue, but rather, is because of stresses or other factors caused by a hostile work environment, harassment issues, etc.  This is normally a proposition which can be easily sidestepped, by arguing to OPM that whether or not such workplace issues have any basis or not, the treating doctor has nevertheless stated X, Y & Z.  However, it can still be problematic, and that is why collateral workplace issues should be avoided, if at all possible.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Those Workplace Issues

In preparing a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there are often multiple collateral issues which arise:  Harassment issues; Unequal Treatment; EEOC issues; Hostile Workplace issues; Discrimination issues; and multiple other issues which may or may not be viable complaints.  Such complaints have their proper place, in the proper forum, within the proper context.  As I have written multiple times previously on this issue — these employment issues should be avoided in the context of preparing for and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Many of these employment complaints may be viable ones to pursue; some may be pursued concurrently while seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and will not ultimately defeat or impact such an application (remember that in law, not only can an attorney speak out of three or four sides of his mouth; one is also allowed to make contradictory legal arguments at the same time).  

The point is that such collateral arguments and issues should not be a part of the application itself.  It may be fine to pursue such workplace issues in a separate and different forum — just not in the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  If the issue is brought up, the Office of Personnel Management may well use it against you, stating, “Your medical conditions seem to occur as a result of your allegation of the actions of your Supervisor. As such, you suffer merely from situational disability.”  Case denied.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire