Medical Retirement for Federal Government Workers: Sides (Part II)

Side orders are meant to compliment the entree; there are specific types of appetizers and addendum dishes which enhance the culinary delights, and those with more sophisticated and refined salivary receptors tend to make a magnified fuss about such issues, especially in posh restaurants where a display of the proper matching of manners, wines, menus and side orders are embraced with an upturned nose of superiority and a disdain for those who fail to follow the propriety of civilized society.

Choosing sides and the ability to do so, tells much about a person.

In restaurants, furtive glances are often exchanged when a person attempts to order in the original language of the cuisine; in sports, from an early age, choosing sides reveals one’s fealty, and ingratiating self-to-popularity by excluding those who are are estranged from the inner circle of cliques is the safer route to take.

Coordinating loyalties from an early stage in one’s career is merely an extension of both — of choosing the “right” sides to the entree of one’s profession.  For the Federal and Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the warning signals begin to blare early on.

Old loyalties begin to fray; more recent touches of camaraderie quickly crumble; and what we did for the supervisor, or that major project that we worked late nights for months on endless turmoil which resulted in accolades for upper management — and a satisfying pat on the back for the underlings — are all forgotten.  Clear lines to bifurcate which side you are on, fade with time.  During the 7th inning stretch, the white powder may have to be rolled upon the diamond again, to reestablish the boundaries of the game.

But for the Federal and Postal employee who dares to allow for a medical condition to impact the “mission of the agency”, and to begin to prepare to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the rules of the game itself begin to change radically.  No longer are there boundaries of proprieties; side dishes are not served to compliment, anymore; and there is no one left to be a part of your team.  You have now become the pariah, the outsider; the one estranged from the rest, while everyone else watches you with gleeful betrayal.

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

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Loyal Mascot

Mascots are loyal by definition.  As they symbolize the team, organization, group or particular population as a representative spokesperson, any conduct of disloyalty would be considered anathema to the entity.  The converse concept, of course, is rarely investigated, but should also “by definition” be true: the organization or entity should remain loyal to the mascot through whom the representative reputation is upheld.  However, when the symbol of the mascot no longer serves the purposes of the entity, the appearance may be altered; a wholesale exchange for another symbol may be entertained; or perhaps the very need for the mascot may be scrapped.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has sacrificed a good part of his or her life to the advancement of “the mission” of the agency, the feeling of being a mascot is often an effervescent quality.  Missions and causes are meant to be motivational focal points; a foundational rationale greater than one’s own lifetime of incrementally monotonous trivialities will provide a sense of purpose and destiny.

Such effervescence of feelings, however, can suddenly end, when an intersection of one’s destiny is interrupted by a medical condition.  For, it is precisely the harshness of a medical condition which suddenly awakens the soul, and contrasts those things once thought to be important, against the being-ness of mortality.  For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition suddenly impedes the Federal or Postal Worker’s ability and capacity to further “the mission” of the agency, contemplation in 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, should always remain a viable option.

It is unfortunately a time when being the mascot for the agency may need to end.  The failure of effectiveness may result in the agency taking steps to terminate “the mascot”; but before that occurs, it may be better to take hold of the reigns of destiny, and begin the process of securing one’s future without regard to what the agency may or may not do.  Loyalty is supposed to be a bilateral venue of concerns, but is almost always to the benefit of the larger organization at the expense of the individual.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to consider the future and to leave the days of symbolism behind.  As medical conditions awaken the prioritization of life’s elements, so filing for Federal Disability Retirement is often the first step in recognizing that the days of the mascot may be over, and to come out from behind the symbolism to step into the fresh air of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Ignorance and Coping

Within the complex world of information technology, modernity has reached a level of overload which few from past generations could have ever imagined. One needs only to peruse a Tom Swift novel to compare how far we have come; and even the old greats like Asimov and Bradbury could not have foreseen, in the height of their intellectual and creative powers, much of the technological gadgetry of the present age.

Then, of course, there is the “human side” of the equation of modern technology — of how individuals cope with such information overload.  Many have theorized that the exponential explosion of Major Depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and the societal impact of increased psychiatric disorders, stems from a response in terms of coping mechanisms; and we counter the response with advanced pharmaceutical admixtures.  The more common means employed to cope with the deluge of constant informational dissemination, is to limit the exposure to the volume of encounters.

Thus, the age-old adage of ignorance being a “blissful state” retains some semblance of truth.  But for those facing issues of legal limitations and filing deadlines, it is best to “be in the know”.

For Federal and Postal Workers intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the 1-year Statute of Limitations for filing applies from the time of separation from Federal Service.  Being on OWCP does not forestall or extend the 1-year rule. As such, once an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 is issued or, for Postal Workers, when those 0-balance pay stubs stop coming in the mail, it is well to be aware that the clock has begun to tick.

Ignorance can indeed be blissful, and being the gatekeeper of information overload may be a means of coping; but in the end, the inquisitiveness of Tom Swift must always prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Overlapping Patchwork

When multiple hands work on a single project from different directions, the patchwork of designs may reveal the lack of coordination; yet, the beauty of the diversity in pattern, color, dimension and creativity may make up for such lack of uniformity.  Thus, lack of uniformity need not mean that the end-result lacks beauty; and, indeed, lack of conformity can in and of itself be a form of delicate attraction.

But human beings possess an innate desire for a sense of logical comprehension, and while overlapping patterns may possess a beauty of diversity, anarchical presentation of exploding colors and patterns must ultimately be brought together into some semblance of coordination.

There is, of course, a distinction to be made between art and mathematics; between artistic endeavors, which may bend the rules of uniformity, as opposed to a cohesive and comprehensible presentation in the form of a persuasive argument.  In law, an overlapping patchwork of arguments may unintentionally hit the mark; but you would not want to rely upon such an imprecise approach.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the approach of culling together a patchwork of arguments — borrowing a report from one’s OWCP doctor; arguing that because one received a percentage rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the relevance upon an OPM disability retirement application should be of X consequence; extrapolating language from an SSDI decision — while all of these are of some consequence, each must ultimately be garnered into a coherent whole.

It may well be that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application began as a patchwork of information; in the end, however, it should be the hand of a single artist who reworks the pattern into a cohesive whole.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Agency Independence

Each agency is tooled with a statutory mandate as to its mission and purpose, and from the origination of the statutory mandate, Federal Regulations and policies are formulated.  The independence of each agency within the Federal Government results in the anomaly of a patchwork of Federal Agencies, few of which are coordinated in their efforts or purposes.  

Conceptually, this is thought to be a good idea — precisely because by preserving the independence of each agency, it can singularly focus upon the mandated purpose and goal — and better accomplish its “mission”.  But the flip-side to the positive consequences of such conceptual formulation is that there is often an overlap between missions, and where the logical result of one action should almost automatically (logically) result in another, such is not the case because of the wall of separation between agencies, preserving their independence from each other.  

In Federal Disability Retirement issues, one would think that where a stricter standard of eligibility is imposed in one agency (e.g., the Social Security Administration for disability determinations), an approval based upon that stricter standard should automatically result in an approval by the Office of Personnel Management for purposes of evaluating and deciding upon a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

Such is not the case, however.  

Hypothetically, it is possible to conceptualize a case where a Federal or Postal employee is deemed “totally disabled” by a doctor, but still be able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Conversely, it is possible to think of a case where an individual is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job (FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement) and yet not be considered “totally disabled” (SSDI).  The latter, of course, happens all the time; the former continues to occur — although, to actually come up with a true case involves mental gymnastics which exists only in the world of myths and language-games.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire