CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Misplaced Guilt & Apologetic Defeatism

There is, of course, such an animal as ‘misplaced guilt‘; it is in consequence of attributing to the wrong object of remorse a sense of honor or fidelity; and the resulting behavior of such inappropriate placement is often actions of an apologetic nature, self-defeating attitude, or an admixture of both.  Such a chemistry of discord can have subtle, unintended (or was it subconsciously intended?) and negative results for the Federal Employee or U.S. Postal Worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

In life, it is often the simple and direct approach which prevails; those who are unaware of their surroundings and forge ahead without sensitivity to others, often accomplish much; and while unfortunate, it is those very people who act with empathetic restraint and in consideration for others, who often get left behind.  And so it is with filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM —  that the person who hesitates and apologetically formulates one’s Statement of Disability (as responsive to Standard Form 3112A), will subconsciously desire a denial.

Statements of disability made with hesitancy; with a sense of apology or remorse; of guilt for even applying for the benefit; all such mind-sets manifest themselves in the narrative of one’s disability.  Yet, it is a misplaced guilt.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the Federal employee’s compensation package, and it is there precisely to allow for the Federal or Postal employee to recuperate, acquire a certain standard of financial security, and perhaps provide an opportunity for a second chance at another productive vocation.  There is no room for misplaced guilt, and certainly no place for an apologetic defeatism in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in a flash, they will jump upon such an approach and take advantage of such misplaced vulnerabilities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Funeral that Never Was

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, for most Federal and Postal employees, is tantamount to attending one’s own funeral:  the time spent at one’s job constitutes the larger portion of one’s waking life, and to dissociate and sever the ties to an organization comprised of people, coworkers, missions and a daily sense of accomplishment, results in the same sense of finality and irrevocability.

That is why, even for those who have a feeling of elation in being able to “get away” from an agency — whether because it had become a poisoned atmosphere of acrimony and contentiousness; or perhaps one’s own sense of conscientiousness left one with a sense of guilt; whatever the reasons — the filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits means that the struggle to continue on, despite a medical condition which is preventing one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, is coming to an end.

That is why, for Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is psychologically a difficult decision to make.  But it is a necessary decision, in order for one to have that period of recuperative calm, to regain one’s health in order to move on to the next stage in one’s life.

It is difficult to move on precisely because there never was a funeral to attend.  As with a death, others in the community continue in their daily routines after the funeral; the memories fade, and time heals all wounds.

When one departs an agency or the U.S. Postal Service based upon a Federal Disability Retirement, a similar continuum of life occurs; others go on about their business; mean and depraved people seem to linger on the longest. There just never was a funeral to formally declare the date of finality; instead, as with MacArthur’s famous quote:  “They just fade away”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: No Need for an Apology

Federal Disability Retirement benefits exist for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, for two primary purposes:  (A)  to allow a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of his or her job, to receive an annuity because of one’s service to the Federal Sector, based upon minimum qualification criteria (18 months of Federal Service under FERS; 5 years under CSRS) and (B) to encourage that Federal or Postal employee to continue to contribute in the private sector, but working at some other job, and begin a “second” career, if possible.  

It is not an entitlement; it is a benefit which is progressive in the sense that it recognizes a compassionate need to compensate in return for the many years that the Federal or Postal employee has contributed to the work force, as well as recognizing the intelligent paradigm of encouraging continuing contribution in a different career path.  Most Federal and Postal employees do not “want” to file for, or become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

It is not a “choice”.  Rather, most Federal and Postal employees, after many, many years of service, have come to a point of recognition in both the extent, severity and chronicity of their medical conditions, as well as the progressively deteriorating impact upon his or her ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job, that continuing in the same daily struggle with life is inconsistent with retention and continuation in the Federal Service.  

It is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package that one signed onto when one became a Federal or Postal employee.  No apologies are needed to file for the medical benefit; it is merely the consummation of a contract, agreed to and signed for at the beginning of one’s career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability: The Decision

It is always a hard decision to file for disability retirement benefits.  Aside from the psychological anguish which must be confronted (feelings of worthlessness or devaluation of one’s worth because we live in a society which places a high value upon productivity, work, and output & competence in our jobs, despite our giving lip-service to “family”, “relationships” and “community”), the potential disability retirement applicant must also make pragmatic decisions based upon a variegated spectrum of financial, professional, family & economic circumstances.  Such foundational, decision-making factors could include:  one’s medical conditions (obviously); the type of job one is in; whether a disability retirement annuity is sufficient or even realistic; whether the job market outside of the federal sector is promising enough to allow for making up to 80% of what one’s job currently pays, in addition to the disability annuity; whether a parti-time position or partial income added to the disability annuity will be enough; whether one’s supervisor & agency will be “going after” you for performance, conduct, or excessive absences, and if so, how soon; and many other factors. 

It is always a trying time.  Consideration in filing for disability retirement benefits must be based upon a deliberative methodology, based upon serious consideration of multiple factors.  In basing a decision to file for disability retirement, it is best to do it right before considering doing it at all.  As such, consultation with an attorney who is an expert in the area of Federal Disability Retirement laws can be an invaluable source of information in making the “right” decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Employee's Usefulness

Federal Employees and Postal Employees should never consider or entertain the thought that filing for disability retirement benefits is a negative judgment upon his or her lengthy and productive career.  It is merely a statement of reality — that the Federal and Postal employee has had a good career; medical conditions may have shortened the first career, but this merely means that there will be opportunities to have a second career; and, in no way does it mean that there is a blemish upon the Federal career; merely that it is time to move on to something else.  And, indeed, the interruption of the Federal or Postal career as a result of impeding medical conditions merely is a statement that you are no longer a “good fit” for a particular kind of job. Further, if you are removed from the Federal sector because of your medical inability to perform your job, such a removal is a “non-adversarial” and “non-disciplinary” action, and therefore (again) should not, and cannot, be considered a “blemish” upon one’s career. And, finally, it is often the case that it is precisely because of the long and loyal hours you put into your job, that you paid a price for such loyalty — by embracing the stresses of the job, of working despite impending medical conditions.  In other words, very often I see that the stresses inherent in the position took a large and heavy toll upon the individual, such that medical conditions resulted from the long years of such heavy toll.  There is never a need to feel guilty about taking disability retirement; you’ve paid your dues; it is time to move on to another phase of your life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire