Federal Disability Retirement: Those Moments of Enlightened Clarity

It occurs in momentary lapses of time, as if fate, the spirits and the ephemeral heavenly bodies are mocking us silently in childish teases of playful provocations.  They are brief segments of clarity, when all of the cylinders of life appear well-oiled, when the metaphorical pistons are firing simultaneously, and the fuel pump is injecting a sufficient amount of energy, and we feel on top of the world.

This is perhaps how man is supposed to live, is meant to exist, and is thought to represent the essence of his being.  But as Rousseau would quip, the ravages of society and civilization tends to weigh upon the natural state of man, and separate him from his true essence.

And so it often is with the daily fight with an agency.

It is interesting to study the entire history of the concept of “accommodations” in the field of disability law; for, what one finds is that entities, including Federal agencies, rarely attempt more than a show of appearance to accommodate an individual’s medical condition.  The unstoppable grind of a bureaucracy’s march forward will wear down the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.  Fighting through standard means of EEO actions, discrimination lawsuits, formal grievances and complaints may stay the progress for a time; but time itself is always on the side of the Leviathan known as the Federal agency.

Ultimately, the disadvantage is two-fold for the Federal and Postal employee suffering from a medical condition: the process itself, and the medical condition which continues to debilitate.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option which need not be considered the “nuclear” option, but rather an acknowledgment that agencies can rarely change itself to suit the individual, and instead, it is always the individual which must change to fit into the vast sea of an organizational morass.

As for those moments of clarity? They often come when an affirmative step forward is taken, as when the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that there is more to life than fighting against an entity which cares little for the human frailty of a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

USPS Postal and Federal Gov. Disability Retirement: That False Sense of Loyalty

Longevity often masks itself for loyalty; yet, when an organization is so large and impersonal such that each cog in the wheel merely represents an irrelevant fraction of the larger entity, then the relative importance of the individual becomes correspondingly diminished in relation to the greater whole.

Loyalty has always implied the concept of bilateralism; but within an organization which has become a virtual Leviathan, it becomes an unilateral concept.  For Federal and Postal employees, length of service and commitment to the agency’s “mission” will often engender a strong sense of loyalty.  But such loyalty is misplaced if it is paid with the price of one’s medical health, whether physical, emotional, or psychological.

One of the greatest obstacles which forestalls a Federal or Postal employee from filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a sense of shame and misguided loyalty to one’s agency.  Somehow, the Federal or Postal employee thinks that he or she is “letting the agency down” by filing for Federal Disability Retirement and separating from Federal Service.  But such a sense of loyalty is misplaced, misguided, and at best a self-immolation of purposes.

Look to see how the agency treats you in actions, not in terms of how you perceive how the world should be.  While honor is a virtue to be applauded, failure to preserve one’s health is a folly which cannot be afforded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Unlike the Superbowl

Since this week requires some profound analogy to the upcoming game between Baltimore and San Francisco, we must submit to the conventionalized mandate.

The Superbowl is an “event”; Federal Disability Retirement is similarly an event, albeit one which requires foresight, planning, and a purposeful step to engage in a change from daily living. There — the analogy has been made and satisfied. Moreover, in truth, most issues which surface in daily life are not based upon expectations of an upcoming event.  

The Superbowl is something which NFL players strive for as a goal; a career-ending injury or medical condition is more akin to what a player suffers on the pathway to that goal.  For Federal and Postal employees, a quiet, consistent and progressive route to a satisfying career is what is sought after.  For many, however, such a solemn and honorable goal is cut short because of unforeseen circumstances — either a physical medical condition, or a psychiatric condition which insidiously begins to disrupt and destroy.

Remember, however, that Federal Disability Retirement is not a complete surrender to a medical condition; that is precisely why the U.S. Office of Personnel Management allows for a person on disability retirement to engage in another vocation, and to work and earn income up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.  

The Superbowl is a one-time event per year; beyond that, there are 364 days of daily living which everyone must consider, including the Federal and Postal employee, as well as the star NFL player. Just something to think about, and to maintain a rational, balanced perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: OPM Disability & OWCP Disability (Continuing…)

A person who is on OWCP Disability payments — 3/4 of one’s gross pay if married or with dependents, or 2/3 of one’s gross pay if single without dependents – may well find the comfort of such payments and the security of such income to be relatively “safe”.  The old adage that one does not read the fine print during times of smooth sailing, and only begins to worry about issues when things go awry, is something to be kept in mind.  If a Federal or Postal employee is receiving OWCP Disability payments, and as such, one’s financial stability is somewhat assured because of it, that is precisely the time to be considering one’s future.  

OWCP Disability payments have a formal designation — it is called “Temporary Total Disability“.  The focus should be upon the first of the three terms — temporary.  It is not meant to be a permanent feature; OWCP is not a retirement system.  If placed on OWCP for over a year, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will often separate and remove a Federal or Postal employee from the employment rolls of the Agency.  Once removed, the Federal or Postal employee has only up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Once that year passes, you cannot file.  Years later, when OWCP & the Department of Labor stop those “Disability payments” for whatever reason, you cannot then start thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. You will be reminded that TTD stands for just that — Temporary Total Disability. It will then be too late.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire