OPM Disability Retirement: Masking Imperfections

Have you ever noticed how British actors don’t have the same perfectly white teeth as their American counterparts?  Or, for that matter, any non-American, foreign television personality; unless, of course, they have lived here for a few years, in which case they have already undergone the cosmetic transformation of dental voila.  Beware of that which one preaches for others; for, someday, it may come back to embrace the hypocrisy of one’s being.  Yet, when something becomes the normative standard for everyone, then boredom and monotony of purpose begins to set in.

Thus do we require perfection of those television personalities which appear on various channels, and models and movie stars and even fill-ins and “extras”; and soon it appears as if everyone is born with a perfect set of teeth.  With perfection comes intransigence; and soon thereafter, intolerance for any miscreant of societal norms.  For all the talk about inclusion and acceptance, the one conflagration of discrimination always involves the ethereal universe of being “different” from others.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the fear of failing the standards of perfection predicated upon a public perception of tolerant intolerance, pervades us all.

Let me elaborate for a moment:  We require perfection of personalities which we never meet but view daily; such a requirement ultimately reverberates throughout society and the psyche of a country; we carry forth that aura of requisite perfection, and begin to believe in the very lies of our own making.  That is the subtle insidiousness of imposed standards which we never asked for, rarely noticed and fleetingly thought about.  So the question becomes, Why do we then take such efforts to mask our imperfections?

Medical conditions are a fact of life.  Being included in the greater realm of “beautiful people” is that harkening back to those pre-teen years of wanting to be part of the clique that was cool.  When hostility and exclusion at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service becomes unbearable, it becomes the exacerbating trigger of greater pain and anguish resulting through the medical condition one already suffers from.

It is time, then, to file 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.  Time for a change; time to unmask the masking of perfection; and time to move on beyond the cliquish immaturity of normative standards and relegate them to the vestiges of quiet failings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Not all Agencies are Equal

No names will be named.  Not for purposes of “protecting the innocent”, because it is doubtful that there are any innocent entities, anyway.  Rather, the knowledge that there are some agencies which are worse than others, is widespread knowledge, anyway; and, indeed, if the agencies are “outed”, it would merely be a redundancy to name them.

There are Agencies which, when the name is spoken, it sends shivers down one’s spine, because of the mean spiritedness, the uncooperative attitude, and the sheer incompetency of the Human Resources Department which is designated to process a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Then, there are agencies where the H.R. Department — no matter who in the department is contacted — goes out of their way to assist throughout the entire process. They understand the traumatic nature of a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. They realize that the designation, “Human” and “Resources” and “Department”, when taken collectively, means that it is the point where employees come to in order to obtain assistance, to engage in a process which may be very personal, and that the resources sought after require the understanding and compassion of individuals.

Ponder that for a moment — that one’s job may entail, as part of the “essential elements of one’s job” — a showing of understanding and compassion.  Imagine that.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Paradigms for the Future

In attempting to decide to file for Federal Disability Retirement Benefits, it is often the case that Social Security disability benefits must be considered (not just “considered”, obviously, for FERS employees, because it is a requirement to file for it), and how seriously and vigorously; and further, whether to pursue, or to continue on, OWCP temporary total disability benefits.  These are “paradigms” that must be considered for the future.  By “paradigm”, I mean that they represent “models” of how a person wants his or her future to be based upon. 

For instance, let’s take the paradigm of Social Security disability benefits.  Because FERS employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must also file for Social Security disability benefits (to see if they qualify; and, if qualified, the offsetting features will apply), one must take into consideration whether or not a Federal or Postal employee will actually want Social Security disability benefits.  This question arises because Social Security has a “cap” in which a person who receives Social Security disability benefits can make ancillary earned income (roughly no more than $10,000 per year).  Because of this, one must think of the future paradigm of one’s life:  If a person on FERS disability retirement wants to go out and get a part-time job, or start on a path for another career, where he or she makes 15, 20, 25,000 per year or more (because remember, a person can make up to 80% of what a person’s former Federal or Postal job currently pays), then he or she may not want to get Social Security disability benefits.  Most people who are on Federal disability retirement are simply disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of the particular job; they are not “totally disabled”, and therefore are able to go out and start a second career.  This is the “paradigm” for the future which must be considered, and such a model for the future must be carefully thought through.  Next:  the OWCP paradigm.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Agency Interaction

Federal Agencies often act like little fiefdoms.  This is not necessarily a negative thing; each agency is an independent entity, and each has a province of responsibilities which it must carry out and execute according to the statutory mandate provided by Congress.  As independent entities, each agency acts without coordination or regard to other agencies. 

Thus, while approval for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration will mean an offset of monetary payments under FERS, such interaction between the two agencies simply goes to the financial payments — not to the substantive issues of approval or disapproval of a disability retirement claim.  Similarly, while receipt of temporary total disability payments from the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs means that you cannot concurrently receive payments under CSRS or FERS disability retirement (unless you are receiving a scheduled award from OWCP/DOL), the substantive basis of approval or denial of a claim rarely overlaps.  This is because each agency has its own independent criteria for eligibility — meaning that, for Social Security, the “disability” has a higher standard of “total disability”, whereas under FERS & CSRS, it is a lower standard of “inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job”.  Similarly, with OWCP/DOL, the issue of “causality” and whether it is “work-related” is often the important component of consideration. 

All of this is not to say, however, that an approval of a disability benefit from one agency,or a report from a doctor considered for one benefit, should not be used by the applicant for submission to another agency.  Indeed, this should be done — but carefully, and with thoughtfulness. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire