Disability Retirement from U.S. Federal Agencies: Creatures of Leviathan Proportions

Leviathan is both a mythological sea creature, as well as the title of a famous book authored by Thomas Hobbes. It represents that uncontrollable entity of gargantuan proportions, unstoppable and thoughtlessly destructive. It takes on many forms, many faces; or none at all. It is an entity of nondescript characteristic, and engulfs countless lives marked by unidentified graves.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who is lost in the bureaucratic shuffle of loss of identity, the concept of a Leviathan is both familiar, daunting and dismaying. There are countless tentacles of agencies and departments within the Federal Government, the largest of them including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Justice, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, and the umbrella Department of Defense, to name just some of the larger ones.

Becoming a part of the mission of those, or any of the multiple lesser ones, can be an exciting venture. But when a medical condition begins to reduce the stature of one’s potential accomplishments and contribution to the mission of an agency, it becomes easy to get lost in the very size of the agency. Most such agencies have a centralized Human Resources Department, such as a “Civilian Personnel Advisory Center”, which is another faceless and gargantuan bureaucracy.  Personalized Human Resource offices are being gobbled up by the Leviathan of so-called efficiency of centralization; the “personal touch” is left on the side of the road to bigger is better.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who needs to file a Federal Disability claim, it is precisely that “personal touch” which is often needed, but is lacking because of the Leviathan of modernity.  Then, of course, the very agency which makes the decision of an approval or a denial — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — is itself a sea creature of sorts.  Difficult to access and even more of a problem of finding information concerning one’s case, the Leviathans of the modern-day world must be constantly battled and confronted with effective swords and shields.

When a Federal employee or Postal worker suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand the nature of the beast, and the fact that one’s own agency is merely one of many, and the modern-day David in a world of Goliaths may need more assistance than a mere handful of stones.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Vows and Contracts

People take vows for various reasons: vows of silence, as a satisfaction of a prerequisite for initiation into a religious order; vows of marriage, for the union intended for a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice; vows of revenge, for a personal vendetta in retribution for actions suffered against one’s self or on behalf of another; and similar vows of unremitting focus until the satisfaction of such enduring commitment is accomplished.  Similarly, contracts are entered into each day, across the globe, between individuals, corporate entities and groups formed specifically for business and personal reasons.

Is there a difference between a “vow” and a “contract“?  On a superficial level, the former is viewed as a “higher order” semblance of the latter.  In a deeper sense, that is not only true, but all the more so — or, in erudite form, a fortiori.  For, to vow is to give of one’s self in totality of being; it is a gift of one’s self, often without any expectation of a similar receiving.

In contract law, of course, it is precisely the comparative analysis of a “consideration” provided and received, which determines the viability and sustainability of the agreement itself.  Far too often, Federal and Postal employees see their commitment to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service as a “vow” in employment, as opposed to a contract freely entered into, and just as freely abrogated when the need arises. This is seen when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition and must consider the need 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 Federal or Postal employee treats the job as one of a “vow”, as if the significance of clinging on to the position is of greater importance than the detriment manifested to one’s health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, is merely a contractual annuity accorded based upon the status of the individual as a Federal or Postal employee, and further proven by a preponderance of the evidence.  No vows have been exchanged — neither of the silent type, implicit, nor explicit, and certainly not of an unequivocal or unremitting nature.

Contractual terms are meant to be asserted; and one of the provisions of the “contract” for all Federal and Postal employees, is that when the Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, then eligibility for Federal Disability benefits may be invoked.

To accept a contractual provision is never to take advantage of anything, unfairly or otherwise; rather, it is merely a satisfaction of terms. To do otherwise, and to confuse X as Y, as in mistaking a contract for a vow, is merely to bathe in a puddle of muddle-headed thinking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Experiential Responses: Medical Retirement for Postal & Civilian Federal Employees

Life’s garbage is supposed to teach us lessons; that is what we are taught from a young age.  Thus, long lines allow for an opportunity to test patience; insults and ingratitudes, self control; imprudent behavior, an antipathy towards it; lengthy battles, allowing a lesson to forge on while others give up; and similar encounters which provide ample revelations for altering one’s natural instinct of regressive responses.

But the other force which powers its way in an insidious and countermanding manner, is the very negation of lessons learned: of finding security in habitual and repetitive behavior; of responding in a known manner, because past actions of an established quality provide a zone of comfort in contrast to an unknown future.  But medical conditions in and of themselves are unknown factors which impede, intrude, and interrupt.  Sometimes, not acting is as deleterious as proceeding against life’s lessons, learned or yet unachieved.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition not only impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties but, beyond that, has already impacted the extent of experiential encounters with one’s agency, supervisor, coworkers, etc., it may be that one must reconstitute and consider changes which may be anathema to one’s very nature: patience for long-term treatment may not work, as one’s agency may be impatient; self-control towards the ingratitude manifested may not be enough; and imprudent behavior engaged in by one’s agency may be an acceptable norm of standards to follow.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are meant to allow for the Federal and Postal employee to attain a level of livelihood in order to attend to the most important of life’s experiential encounters: one’s health.

While filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, may feel like one is “giving up” instead of forging forward despite adversity; the reality of it is that filing for OPM Disability Retirement does not constitute defeat or surrender, but rather an affirmative move to change the stage of the battlefield.  Further, in life, it is not always the “good guy” that wins. Sometimes, the guy in the white hat must walk away, only to see another day to engage the greater battle of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: ICM versus ICBM

During the Cold War era, the latter acronym was familiar to most, as fears were magnified as to the intercontinental capacity of the U.S.S.R. (those who can still decipher this immediately reveals one’s age).  In those days, one did not need to know the Eastern European countries by name; they all fell under the satellite rubric of the “union” of those with “the Bear”.  ICBMs were counted and their capacity and efficacy were determined by the exponential powers of the number of “warheads” attached.

ICMs, on the other hand, are a fairly recent phenomenon. They show the extent, or the lack thereof, in what agencies and individuals with minor fiefdoms will perpetuate.  They can also be metaphorical antonyms of ICBMs, in that when one possesses an ICM, it can result in the prevention of an ICBM being launched across the barricades of time.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, because of a medical condition which is impacting one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to utilize one’s hoard of ICMs.

Agencies often have no need or, rather, they will often disregard the need, to engage in utilizing impulsivity control mechanisms, because they have the power to hire, fire, reprimand, reassign or otherwise penalize the serfs of this world. But for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is important to apply the various impulsivity control mechanisms available, including resisting the urge to inform a supervisor until the proper time; the inclination to make derogatory references about the workplace in one’s Statement of Disability; and other impulses which may ultimately harm the goal of attainment sought: of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, granted through an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, in the end, the ICBMs remained in cold storage [sic], precisely because the greater instinct for humanity’s survival depended upon the evolutionary relevance of ICMs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Bureaucracy

Most people, organizations and entities do not act with deliberate ill-intentions; rather, they fail to think, and actions emanating from thoughtlessness often constitutes the negation of good.  Bureaucratization often results in the unintended consequence of negating the good; for, in following a set pattern and algorithm of administrative procedures, consideration for individual circumstances cannot be excepted.

One can argue, of course, for the positive aspects of a bureaucracy — of the equal treatment of all; of applying the same standards and criteria across the board, regardless of individual needs; and there is certainly something to be said for expunging the capacity for human favoritism.  But bias and favoritism will always pervade; it will merely take on a more insidious form.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, encountering the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will become a necessary evil to confront.

The key to a successful interaction with the administrative process will be to reach beyond the faceless bureaucracy, and to make relevant one’s own particular and unique facts and circumstances.  That is a tall order to face, in the face of a faceless bureaucracy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Expectations

Expectations are peculiar anticipatory states of being; based upon an accurate assessment of factual considerations, they can comport with a true sense of reality; dependent upon an unrealistic foundation of pure desire and want, it can lead to a devastating loss of trust.  In order to avoid unrealistic expectations, it is necessary to evaluate and assess, as much as possible, facts from past experience, objective present circumstances, and projection of fairly accurate intuitions for the future.

For Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a realistic expectation as to all aspects and corridors of the benefit itself is necessary in order to survive the entirety of the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal.

From evaluating the strength of one’s medical support, to the ability to convey a persuasive argument and case to an agency which reviews tens of thousands of Federal Disability Retirement cases; from a realistic timeframe of the entire process from start to finish; to financial considerations and future earnings potential and whether one can work in another job or vocation.  All such considerations should be evaluated and discussed.

In the end, however, the Federal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits often is confronted with limited choices: to continue working under the same conditions, that is, doing with the same tasks in the same Federal occupation (normally not an option, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is considered in the first place); to walk away without filing for disability retirement benefits (almost never an option — self-evidently so); or filing for disability retirement benefits (the necessary option, and why it is being considered in the first place).

It is the expectations which often dismay, however, and it is a good idea to keep that animal in a cage of realistic assessments.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire