OPM Disability Retirement: Escaping the Feudal Paradigm

Anachronisms rarely die a sudden death; instead, they fade over time, with vestiges and residual skeletons of facades and structures remaining stubbornly in place for decades, and sometimes centuries.  The system of vassals paying homage and fealty to those who are anointed and favored, has been a longstanding feudal system ensuring loyalty and fidelity to particular fiefdoms and individuals; for, as the consecrated individuals are provided with special privileges, including use of prime land, serfs and servants, so the unwavering allegiance to a lord is established in bonds of sequestered servitude.

Federal and Postal Workers are intimately familiar with this feudal system of fealty; they witness it in qualitative and quantitative instances throughout agencies, departments and post offices.

The rules of servitude closely parallel the bonds of loyalty; the consecrated and anointed are allowed the use of royal carriages, even, and minor violations of protocol are overlooked for those whose favor has been curried and fostered, while a technical infraction by he who stands outside of the legion of sycophants faces a deluge of sanctions, including warnings, reprimands, suspensions and the ultimate hanging by the hooded element: termination.  But as all Federal and Postal employees know and understand, loyalty is a unilateral function; it is never bilateral. One’s relevance extends only so far as usefulness to the anointed one; and once such usefulness is extinguished, so one’s relevance diminishes.

There is no debate between substance and appearance in a philosophical sense; appearance always wins out. And, of course, as empathy for the human condition can find no room in the evolutionary process of survivability, so the vestiges of a feudal system of fealty exists well beyond its existential relevance or functional import.  For the Federal or Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the problem of usefulness, loss of position and status as “one of the anointed” (if one ever even enjoyed that level of stature), and relevance to one’s agency or department, becomes a pragmatic problem of stark existential reality.

Fortunately, the gods of caring provided for a more modern, non-feudal mechanism to escape the brutal residue of the feudal system, by allowing for the administrative option of Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.  It allows one to sever the tentacles which place a stranglehold upon Federal and Postal employees who are mistreated for circumstances beyond one’s control.

Yes, it is true that vestiges of old systems fade slowly; but in the end, the inexorable march of progress will hopefully win out, and for the Federal or Postal employee who needs to escape the lords of fate, Federal Disability Retirement is an option to consider.

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