FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The performance fallacy

The disproportionality that occurs between reality and make-believe is nowhere more apparent than in the Federal sector involving performance reviews prepared for Federal employees across all agencies and departments: of being “fully successful” and having those “outstanding” appraisals year after year, and yet….  You don’t feel that such appraisals, despite the blush that it may evoke, reflects the reality of what you have been doing.

The body that warms a position, despite its declining productivity, is the one the Supervisor or Manager does not want to lose; for, to retain a known quantity is better than to lose one and gain an unknown one.

Then, of course, there is the reality of the Federal employee who experiences a deteriorating medical condition, and has come to a critical juncture and decision-making point of what is often referred to as a “Gestalt” moment, or that “Aha!” experience, where one comes upon the realization that one is not immortal; and despite being brought up on Star Wars, the “Force” and other fantasies that human frailty can be overcome by sheer will of the mind — that, disregarding all of that childhood nonsense, we are growing old and beset with medical conditions that remind us that we are no longer the spry chickens just hatched from the warmth of a hayloft beyond the red barn’s rooster call.

Then, there is the “performance fallacy” — somehow, no matter how terribly we feel; no matter the amount of recent sick leave taken, or LWOP requested, the appraisals continue to exceed our level of productivity.

Considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS?  You have the medical condition and, more importantly, the medical support to move forward.

Then, you pause because of the “performance fallacy” — the question being:  How can OPM approve a Federal Disability Retirement application if the performance appraisals continue to reflect the “outstanding” columns of productivity?  The short answer:  That is why the foundation of a case must be built upon a strongly-worded medical narrative, which implicitly rebuts and preemptively answers all such concerns, and that is where consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law can be crucial to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Witnessing the residue

Most of us merely witness the residue; the process itself, the events leading up to the conclusion, and “during” as opposed to the “after”, and all of the miniscule details that make up “in between” are invisible, ignored, unimportant or simply not thought of.  We see the “end product”, only, and that is how it should be.  We don’t have time to watch the apple tree grow from a seedling; for sausages to be made; for politics to be compromised; and for other people’s problems to fester.  And even if we did, what difference would it really make?

We assume much – that characters we see in movies made from “based on a true story” (whatever that means – and how much artistic liberty was taken with the details of such a “true story”, and what part is true and what is not?) productions went to the bathroom in between shooting at each other and becoming heroes; or that when children are seen, there was once love between the couple (although, that can turn out to be a wrong assumption where adoption or other arrangements have been made) even if the residue we witness shows only acrimony, bickering and constant arguing.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, “both sides” witness the residue – from the Federal Agency or Postal Service’s side, they witness the residue of a filing for a disability retirement, without knowing the long and arduous struggle that the employee had with the medical condition prior to coming to such a decision.  Or, for that matter, from the viewpoint of the supervisor or co-worker, such a decision may come as a complete surprise.

Conversely, from the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, witnessing the residue of the Federal Agency’s reaction or the co-workers and supervisors who make comments, or say anything at all, is often an interesting phenomenon for its complete lack of understanding or empathy.  They simply didn’t know, didn’t care or didn’t take the time (or all three) in showing any concern during the long struggle with the medical condition.

The key, however, in witnessing the residue, is with respect to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the Federal Agency that reviews and makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.  For OPM, it is important to formulate a concise narrative in answering the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  How much of the history; to what extent the minutiae and details of the past; and the precision of establishing the nexus between the medical condition and the job duties – these are all important in the proper preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, where witnessing the residue may be a void too important to neglect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Happy Meter

We have metrics for everything, now; devices simultaneously wearable as necklaces to gauge heart rates and exercising of limbs; of crystals which tell of emotive alterations throughout the day; and connective apparatus lest we lose a signal within the vast field of human interactions with the greater world in distant horizons.

Then, why not a “happy meter”?  How would it determine the accuracy within a spectrum of a day’s journey?  Would it be based upon a pinnacle on a graph? Or, perhaps it would calculate the average temperature between qualitative quotients of sad, neutral and ecstatic?  Or, maybe it would provide a needle prick, or a gentle nudge with a vibrating sensation or a humming sound which reminds us that we are now in the state we seek, of a joyous moment within the historicity of our own emotions.

But would it work, and would a happy meter merely gauge our state of being, or fulfill a self-fulfilling prophecy of self-aggrandizing need for knowledge reflective of foolish accounts as seen by other cultures and societies?  For the most part, any quantification of self-satisfaction would still require the affirmative input of the subject being studied.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea of gauging happiness as the sole criteria for seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits is merely to identify one criteria among many.

For, in the end, “happiness” is just a byproduct resulting from multiple other factors, including a future sense of security; an idea of where one fits within the larger schematic plans of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; where one’s career path will go if the Federal or Postal employee attempts to remain in the job and the agency which cannot be completely fulfilled; whether a viable “accommodation” can be provided to allow the Federal or Postal employee to continue in the same position such that the Federal or Postal employee can perform all of the essential elements of the position; and multiple other and similar elements to consider.

Ultimately, one’s “happiness” cannot be determined by a mere quantification of heart rate, level of perspiration, or the stability of emotions and thought-processes; and while there is no mechanism discovered or invented, yet, which is encapsulated by a commercially salable Happy Meter, perhaps there will be one in the near future.

For the time being, however, one could nevertheless do what men and women have done for centuries, and simply reflect seriously for a moment upon one’s past accomplishments, determining present needs, and plan for one’s future security by taking the affirmative steps necessary to prepare, formulate, and file with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — today.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from Federal Employment and Filing for OPM Disability Retirement

Resignation is what the adversary wants; it is rarely an innate condition of the human animal.  Whether one believes in the evolutionary process of incremental genetic adaption, progression and determinism, or that the gods of traditional theology puts forth a teleological foundation, the concept of “giving up” possesses an inherent shrinking away, a repugnance and a natural inhibitor to an act which constitutes surrender and, in some corners of thought, betrayal to self.

But the will of human beings is what separates from the genus of that which we derive; and as monks can defy instinct and sit in burning bonfires of self-immolation, and sheer determination of will-power can overcome fear, the rush of adrenaline and the propulsion of compulsive irrationality through reasoned guidance, so there may be times when resignation carries with it a compelling basis which justifies the action.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of resignation is often at the forefront for multiple and varied reasons:  the agency often suggests it (which, in and of itself, should not be a basis for acting, as the self-interest of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service should not be the paramount concern during such a time of turmoil when a medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); where all Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA rights have been exhausted, and the inability to maintain a regular work schedule has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary actions by the agency (here, the language contained in any such action proposed by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be of some use in a Federal Disability Retirement application); or where other pragmatic decisions may be contemplated, such as the ability to access one’s TSP in order to financially survive during the process of waiting for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, as well as multiple other unnamed reasons too numerous to discuss within the confines of this limited forum.

Whatever the underlying reasons and rationale, there is often an instinctive reaction, a repugnance and resistance, in engaging an act which is tantamount to surrendering one’s career and “walking away”.  There may, in the end, be compelling reasons to perform such an act, and not all actions involving resignation constitute a reflection of a desperate need.  If reviewed calmly, and decided rationally after due consideration of all of the factors and elements involved, such an act of apparent self-destruction may in fact be the most prudent course of action which perpetuates the genetically-determined embracing of evolutionary survivability, or the voice of gods long whispering in the echoing reverberations of Dante’s concentric circles of ever-impending escape from the fires of hell.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Options Letter

Options presented in life often depend upon the preparatory avenues previously correlated over months and years in reaching such a point and destination; alternatives and the plenitude of opportunities rarely “just happen”, and like the football team which seemingly seamlessly executes its game plan, the practiced work left unseen behind the scenes is what allows for the openings to occur, both in sports jargon as well as in business life.

Whether the limits of available alternatives are constrained by the apparently known universe, or continue without knowledge, matters little; for, in choosing from a list of openings, one must know the menu before placing an order.  Thus, can a person choose a sixth option when presented with only five?  Or does lack of knowledge and negation of foresight delimit the available resources untapped and unencumbered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, there is often that dreaded “options letter” which the Federal agency or the Postal Service issues, as if the universe of actions to be considered is restrained by the content of the issuance serving the needs of self-interest, and not with concern for the Federal or Postal employee.  Such options presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service are often 3:  Come back to work; seek accommodations; or resign.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has resulted in exhaustion of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and all FMLA benefits, the refusal by the agency or the U.S.P.S. to extend the granting of LWOP is often accompanied by the threat of sanctions, punitive actions and placement of the Federal or Postal employee upon AWOL status.

The options presented are thus onerous and unreasonable; for, as Option 1 is untenable (the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming back, and the agency and the U.S. Postal services knows this, as otherwise Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA would not have been unnecessarily exhausted), and Option 2 (seek accommodations) is somewhat of a “given”, it is Option 3 (resignation) which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service hope and expect the Federal or Postal employee to initiate.

Such an option allows for the least amount of thought and effort by the Federal agency, and it is this expectation, along with the threat of placing the Federal or Postal employee with imposition of AWOL status, that often wins.  But are there other options besides the ones presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service? Perhaps.  But as life’s choices are revealed only through knowledge and wisdom, it is the one who seeks the avenues of counsel who discovers that universes besides the insular one within the parameters of the Milky Way portend of other life on planets yet undiscovered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Netherworld between Sleep and Wakefulness

There is that moment of haziness, where sleep has not yet overtaken and consciousness has not yet been fully lost, where the philosophical abyss of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or stands in relation to knowledge, truth, insight and puzzlement, and where questions abound concerning the relationship between words and the objective reality of constellations clashing amidst bursting stars and black holes.

Sleep is a realm sought after; restorative sleep, a state of being which, without explanation or cause, we accept as a necessity of life’s conundrums.  Without it, or because of a lack thereof, functionality deteriorates, awareness becomes overwhelming, and the capacity to tolerate a normal level of life’s stresses becomes an issue of sensitivity and tearful breakdowns.  Sleep brings us to the other side of darkness; wakefulness, this side of paradise.

Whether because our genetic code has not yet adapted fully through the evolutionary process of survivability, or that technology outpaces the capacity of human intelligence to withstand the constant bombardment of stimuli upon organic receptors devised merely for hunting or gathering, we may never figure out.  Regardless, many are like the sleeping dead, where the netherworld between sleep and wakefulness remain unchanged, and profound fatigue, daily exhaustion and untenable mental fogginess and loss of intellectual acuity impacts one’s daily ability and capacity to make a living.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with such an exacerbating and complex state of health, the reality of going through the day, of coming home exhausted and forlorn, yet unable to turn that profound fatigue into a period of respite and restorative sleep, is a reality faced with the concerns of being able to continue in one’s Federal or Postal career.

Sleep disorders are often secondary medical and health issues, following upon primary physical and psychiatric disabilities; but they can also be a primary basis for preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Whether diagnosed as Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, or a more generalized diagnosis of Sleep Dysfunction or Sleep Disorder, the impact upon one’s cognitive acuity as well as the physical exhaustion felt, which can lead to creating a hazardous workplace phenomena, the Federal or Postal employee who finds that the impact prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, should consider that the health issue itself is a valid one, and a firm basis for preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

One may, here and there, experience the phenomenon of entering that netherworld between the dark chasm of sleep and the full orientation of wakefulness, and know that drifting between one and the other is likened to the necromancy of human complexity; but when such a condition remains a constancy in one’s life, then it may be time to consider filing for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, lest the sorcery of life’s dreamworld waves the wand which withers the soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire