The Genotype-phenotype Distinction and Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal and Postal Employees

The distinction is important in the study of genetics, where the genotype represents the entirety of one’s hereditary information contained in one’s DNA, whereas the phenotype represents the manifestation of that genetic heredity received and retained by any given individual. In simple terms, it is the inner/outer distinction, or in Aristotelian terms, the substance/accident representation, or further, in Platonic characterization, the form/appearance description of the world. It provides for a fascinating study of the theory of evolution, the plasticity and adaptability of a species, and the capacity of survivability within the greater context of environmental pressures and influences.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the concept of the genotype-phenotype distinction is peripherally interesting to understand, in the following way: The internal struggles eviscerating one’s capacity to perform the Federal or Postal job, will sometimes remain unobtrusive and lacking of evidence by all appearances.

The “phenotype” of a Federal Disability Retirement case may be represented by good performance reviews, lack of awareness by one’s supervisor, and an agency which fails to recognize the struggling Federal or Postal employee. The “genotype” is often the “inner” struggle, characterized by profound fatigue (how does one quantify cumulative exhaustion?), chronic pain (if only pain were color-coded, where white is on the lower spectrum and red is at the extreme end), the where the Federal or Postal employee pushes one’s self to the limit of absurdity until one is ready to collapse in an effort to perform the essential functions of one’s job.

The problem of appearance-versus-substance, or that which is seen as opposed to the hidden reality of a thing, is not a new or unique one. In the context of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, and whether the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make clear and bring to the surface that which is unrevealed, and that will normally come about through generating an excellent medical report from one’s treating doctor.

Ultimately, a Federal Disability Retirement application is based upon the medical opinion of one’s treating doctor, and the “genotype” of an effective Federal Retirement application must comply with the requirements of the law, the criteria for eligibility, and the expression of that genotype into a coherent representation in the form of a “phenotype” in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability application, though OPM, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Client

Waiting for the approval/disapproval, the determination, the decision,etc., when the Federal Disability Retirement packet is sitting on OPM’s desk, is a passive modality of existence.  Up to that point, however, it is often a good idea to be actively involved in the process.

Whether having an Federal Disability Attorney or not, it is good to “flag” interim dates, to keep on top of how long it has been since the initial letters have been sent out to the doctors, to call the doctors and (diplomatically) ask for a reasonable time-frame within which to have the medical narrative reports written; to ask whether or not a fee is required to prepare the narrative report, and if so, how much, and if prepayment will expedite the report.

Then, once it arrives at the Agency H.R. people (or, in the case of the Postal Worker, the H.R. Shared Services Center in Greensboro, North Carolina), it is a good idea to periodically call (about every two weeks) to see what stage in the process your application is at.  Thereafter, once it is forwarded to the finance office, then on to Boyers, PA, it is a matter of waiting for the CSA number to be assigned, and then the long, arduous wait.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Lawyer

 

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Agency Supervisors

Federal Agencies, and the Postal Service, can act as little fiefdoms, with minimal oversight in the use of power. There is no school which teaches the proper use of power; power is something which is too often misused, misapplied, and abused. And, those who possess power, often exponentially apply it when the focus of such power has become vulnerable. Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, who are in the vulnerable position of necessarily filing for disability retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS because of the imposition of an unwanted medical condition which impacts and impedes his or her ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, are especially in a sensitive position, precisely because they are at the complete mercy of the Supervisor. Supervisors need to understand and appreciate the great power which he or she possesses. The powerful need not misuse such power in order to show how powerful he or she is; indeed, it is in the very act of kindness, empathy, and the ability to show sensitivity and “human-ness” which is the true showing of the powerful. Supervisors should “bend over backwards” to show what it means to truly be a Supervisor — one who recognizes and appreciates the long years of loyal service the disabled employee has shown; empathy for the vulnerable situation the employee now finds him/herself in; kindness in the treatment of the employee. Such kind treatment will go a long way towards encouraging a sense of community and family within an agency, and will foster the other employees in the department, office, and greater agency to work that much harder, knowing that it is not “just a job” — but a career worthy of greater devotion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Perspective from the Office of Personnel Management

In effective argumentation, persuasion, written memoranda, oral presentation, and the entire spectrum of attempting to convince the “other side” of the validity, force, appropriateness, and viability of any administrative or legal filing of any nature, it is often a useful tool to attempt to view an issue from that “other” perspective.

Remember that, in filing a Federal disability retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is good to consider the fact that the OPM representative who will be reviewing your particular application, merely sees your application as one among hundreds of files assigned to him or her. With that in mind, the essential question becomes: How can my particular application, as one among many, be reviewed in such a way that it “stands apart” so that it will be quickly approved? If you ask that question, or any variation of such a question, then you may be taking a wrong approach.

Remember that filing for disability retirement under FERS or CSRS is not like applying for a job; you are not filing a resume that needs to stand out; rather, it is often best if your particular application is nothing more than a “run of the mill” application — with strong, unequivocal and irrefutable medical evidence, along with strong legal arguments to support your case. Yes, of course your Applicant’s Statement of Disability should explicitly describe the human condition of medical disablement; yes, the “nexus” between your medical condition and your job should be carefully constructed; but no, your application should not necessarily “stand out” as uniquely different — for such an application will often be viewed as “suspicious” and “over-stated”, and may well lead to not just a first viewing, but a re-viewing, and a possible denial

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire