Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Wrong Sense of Shame

Having a sense of shame can reveal a heightened level of moral superiority; but as with all things emanating from the Good, those who lack a sensitivity to propriety will take full advantage of a misguided loyalty to ethical conduct.  Work and a duty to one’s vocation is a guiding principle for most Federal and Postal employees.  That is precisely why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is anathema to the Federal and Postal employee.

The committed Federal and Postal employee often has a warped and misguided sense of his ethical duty to work, and will allow for a medical condition to continue to exacerbate and debilitate, at the expense of one’s deteriorating health, all for the sake of commitment, devotion, and high ethical sense of duty to one’s mission for the agency.

Supervisors and managers recognize this, and take full advantage. But the Federal and Postal employee must by necessity understand that Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees precisely for the underlying reasons offered: When a medical condition impacts one’s health such that one can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is meant to be accessed precisely because it has always been part of the benefits package for all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Commitment to a mission is indeed commendable; blind devotion at the expense of one’s own health is somewhat less so — unless one counts the sneering approval of agencies who see such sacrifices as mere paths to the slaughterhouse.

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

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Decorative Bookends

Such a niche industry, whether by individual craftsmen or in factory output, must have recognized years ago that trouble lay ahead.  For, with the transfer of the reading public (which in itself is shrinking daily) from paper to electronic medium in the form of ebooks, the need for such anachronisms has diminished and is on its way to extinction.

Such objects were never at the forefront of civilization’s advancement or representative of its superior culture. Unlike the Model-T, military arsenals and the advent of tabletop computers, one cannot point to them and say, “Now that was the beginning of the industrial age, the technological age, the age of modern warfare“, etc.  Instead, bookends were purchased and displayed for a quiet, unassuming, utilitarian purpose: to help books remaining standing.  One rarely went into a store and bought only a single bookend; they come in pairs, and when one of the pairs is lost or damaged, then both became less of value in terms of everyday utility.

In going through basic training in the military, a similar concept was hammered: of pairing soldiers together and working in tandem to advance towards an enemy position.  Marriage is sort of like that; the cooperation, not the warfare (although some would point more to the latter than the former as representing the institution).  And so the statistical sales of bookends has been steadily declining.

Often, for Federal and Postal employees who come to a critical point of needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the metaphorical association to the uselessness of bookends in modernity is obvious: the agency no longer supports the Federal or Postal Worker, neither in words nor in deed, and one can easily forecast the future value of one’s continuing presence. With the loss of such support, one feels like the singular bookend.

When that loss of agency support occurs, it is time for the Federal and Postal Worker to consider that option which exists precisely for that moment: to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Work is important, but health so much more. When the bookend of the agency is lost or damaged, then one is looking at holding up one side of the spectrum.

Oh, and that metaphorical concept of the “buddy” system, taught in tactical military training? Like the singular bookend which can only hold up the rear, that’s precisely what the Federal or Postal Worker must look out for when once a medical condition is revealed to an uncaring Federal Agency or Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Testing a Relationship

If the advent of a crisis is a true test of a relationship, then the satisfaction of an ongoing need in response to the crisis is the harbinger of sincerity.  Testing the relationship is often the secondary trauma one must experience in life; for, the feeling of isolation which often accompanies a crisis — that sense that no one else can fully understand the experience; that others, while empathetic words of condolences may be uttered, can always seek the refuge of their comfortable zones of privacy and go on with their lives — is further exacerbated by the island of singularity which one recognizes in the face of finding one’s self in the the human condition of crisis.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the chronicity and progressive decline of that medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the testing of relationships must necessarily occur.  The test of that doctor-patient relationship, to see whether and to what extent one’s longstanding treating doctor will support the need for Federal Disability Retirement; the test of the worker-to-coworker relationship; the employer-employee relationship; they all become tested, to observe their elasticity, their durability, and their sincerity.

Fortunately, it is not one’s own agency which makes a determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application, but rather, a separate, independent agency — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But one’s own agency is required to complete certain portions of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and those required parts will also be a partial test.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must endure the crisis of a medical condition, Federal Disability Retirement is a process which will test many things — not the least of which will involve who were and are one’s true friends.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Friendly Supervisor

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Supervisor — and therefore the Agency itself — will be informed of one’s application for Federal Disability Retirement, because of the requirement of the SF 3112B.

Standard Form 3112B is the “Supervisor’s Statement”; it is a form which needs to be completed by a Supervisor of the Federal or Postal employee who is applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Because the form must be completed by a Supervisor of the applicant, it is therefore presumed that “others” at the agency will come to know that the Federal or Postal employee has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Often, the question is asked as to “when” the Supervisor should be informed of the employee’s application.  It can be a touchy issue.  Because the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often feels a certain sense of loyalty, especially if the Supervisor has been “good” to him or her, the instinctive sense is to inform the Supervisor sooner, rather than later.  But remember that loyalty in the Federal government is almost always a unilateral approach; it runs one way — from the individual to the agency; rarely is it bilateral, where it runs both ways.

Further, once a Federal or Postal employee contemplates filing for Federal Disability Retirement, the loyalty of the Supervisor is normally seen as connected to, and only to, the agency; and the very fact that an employee has mentioned the term “Federal Disability Retirement” is often the turning point of any connective loyalty.

Loyalty is what one is doing now and for the future, not what one has done in the past.  Such words may invoke a sad truth, but one which should be heeded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Blunt Clarifications

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often a good idea to distinguish between the entities and issues which will respond favorably or not; the extent of the response; whether straightforward or not.  

Blunt clarifications will provide an effective road map — however, remember that a question asked can provide the wrong type of information to the recipient of the question, and so one must always be careful.  

Where possible, however, it is a good idea to be clear on a road map.  Thus, by way of example, take the following:  The doctors who will be asked to provide medical narrative reports — will they be supportive?  To what extent will they be supportive?  The agency which will be receiving the Federal Disability Retirement application (assuming that the Federal or Postal employee has not been separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days) —  how will they react if they are informed now, as opposed to when the application is submitted?  Will they respond in a negative, reactionary manner, or will the supervisors and chain of command show some empathy and be supportive during the process?  

It is best to be able to gauge the level of support, be able to determine the people who will be favorable, etc.  In the end, of course, it is the medical condition which will determine the plan and course of one’s actions, because the impact of one’s medical conditions upon the ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job may compel the Federal or Postal worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  But it is a good thing to know the “road map” and the people along the way, whether supportive, neutral, or negative, in the preparation, formulating and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Exaggerated Focus

Often, in preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the distractions of collateral issues can be heightened to a level of exaggerated focus, such that it formulates and creates a perception which is beyond the proper perspective which it should be accorded.

Thus, for instance, the issue of whether or not a Supervisor’s support in a Federal Disability Retirement application is important, and to what extent. The issue of whether the Agency can undermine or subvert the Federal Disability Retirement application, etc. — these can be mere distractions which, if allowed to expand in an exaggerated vacuum, can derail a Federal Disability Retirement application unnecessarily.

On the other hand, certain issues and obstacles can indeed be exaggerated, and still maintain a perspective of “reality” — such as the support and importance of one’s treating doctor.

It is important to make the conceptual distinction between the core essentials which make up a Federal Disability Retirement application, and those which are secondary, and further, those which are peripheral to the process.

The ultimate goal is to formulate an approach, prepare an effective presentation to the Office of Personnel Management, and not get distracted from the multiple obstacles and seeming-obstacles which can divert one’s attention, and maintain a reasoned perspective throughout.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire