Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The importance of seeing a way out

The strategic approach of allowing for a route of retreat is well-known; by providing an exit option, casualties are lessened and the proportional ferocity of battle often parallels the availability or non-existence of such a pathway out.

Cornered animals behave in the same way – and why would they not?  Do we think that we are somehow exempt from the genetic predisposition of Darwinian inherency?  And the cornered enemy who sees no exit – with the final bullet retained for self-annihilation, the option of surrender not a reality for the traitorous residue to such an act, or of the potential for torture and mutilation naturally following revenge upon actions taken previously; or a kamikaze-like final hurrah met with a hail of bullets; it is the importance of seeing a way out, that often determines the course of future conduct.

That is how the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker views the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement:  as the “way out” of an otherwise untenable future course.  Without it, the options are often:  Die trying to get to work each day; resign with nothing to show for the many years of investing in one’s career in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service.

What is so interesting in engaging Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers for multiple decades, now, is the singular and unassailable fact that is contrary to the misperception held by the general public:  Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers are among the most dedicated of workforce servants, putting in long and uncompensated hours beyond what they are required, and never wanting to take the “exit option” but for the chronic and severe nature of a rising and debilitating medical condition.  And, how many who obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity go on into the private sector and “pay back” into the very system from which they are being compensated the Disability Retirement annuity?  Many, if not most.

Without the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, many would struggle and ultimately lose the battle either with the agency or the Postal Service, or with the medical condition itself.  Even with the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the pay is not so enticing as to encourage any mass exodus via the vehicle of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, and it is only because of the progressively deteriorating nature of a medical condition that finally impels and compels the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker to take that exit option, and to seek to reach a plateau of rehabilitative serenity such that a further career or vocation in the private sector could be possible.

In the end, like enemies in a fierce firefight, the importance of seeing a way out is just as relevant to the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, as it is to the kamikaze warrior who tightens the band of fate by an emblematic headscarf in preparation for the final battle.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Upon the Altar of Work

They are structures where sacrifices or worship occur.  Not being mutually exclusive, the former can represent the act of the latter, and the latter can constitute the fulfillment of the former.  And while we, in modernity, think of ourselves as sophisticated and beyond the vestiges of former practices of superstition and unscientific religiosity, an objective view of our actions betray the ongoing reliance upon past residues of robotic constancies.

Of course we have to make a living; of course we have to support our families.  But at what cost, and to whom do we owe our allegiance?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who sacrifice themselves at the altar of work, when medical conditions begin to clearly impact, deteriorate, denigrate and destroy the body, mind and soul of the Federal and Postal worker, then it is time to consider 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.

As most Federal and Postal employees are under FERS, the minimum eligibility requirement is to have at least 18 months of Federal Service.  Once that threshold is met, then the question is one of having the proper support from one’s treating doctor, psychiatrist, Nurse Practitioner, etc.  The true test for a Federal Disability Retirement application will be in establishing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s official job, as reflected on SF 50 (Federal employees) or PS Form 50 (Postal employees).

Ultimately, when the altar of work becomes more than a means of support, and harkens back to the days of yore where sacrifice and worship intersected to pay tribute to the gods of the underworld, it is time to consider the alternatives available, and for Federal and Postal employees, that should always include the possibility of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Crumbling Walls of Professional Conduct

The aged bemoan of modernity; youth view the present as merely fodder for change and future potential; and caught in between, somewhere in the netherworld of inertia, those inconsequential individuals relegated to the irrelevant category of “middle age”, who must stand by and witness the slow and progressive destruction of the past, the deterioration of cohesiveness of the future, and the present infirmity of impotence.

Medical conditions are funny animals; because they are personal in nature, the revelation of such private matters tends to scare people, because the emergence of such confidential conveyance violates the unspoken walls of professional distance; but for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service, it is often necessary to provide some component of one’s medical condition in order to ascertain and establish the extent of needed accommodations — for purposes of filing for FMLA, to take needed SL or LWOP, or to counter allegations of misconduct or violation of “leave policy”, etc.

Within the greater context of life, there is a sense there the walls of professional conduct which once protected privacy concerns and acceptable behaviors, are crumbling in modernity.  Anything and everything goes; there is no normative constraint, anymore, because the demarcation between private and professional have disappeared.

The same is true when applied to the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The entire bureaucratic process engenders privacy concerns because of the sensitive nature of the information which must be submitted.  But those are merely “side issues” which should be placed in their proper perspective; for, in the end, when the final wave of goodbye is motioned, and one has obtained an approval from OPM in order to exit with a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the crumbling walls of professional conduct as revealed by one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service will be but a far echo of past misdeeds, as one walks out into the future of a brighter tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Resignation

Resignation is an act which is resisted, for various and complex reasons.

The strength of holding onto something; the sense that such an act would be a culmination of, and admission to, a declaration of defeat; it is often and stubbornly believed that to resist the finality of the act promulgates a validation of remaining strength to survive.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the decision not to resign allows for greater options to remain open:  the tolling of the Statute of Limitations (Federal and Postal employees have up until 1 year from the date of separation from Federal Service to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits) will not be triggered; there is the belief that, if a Federal Disability Retirement application is filed, but is denied at all stages, the Federal or Postal employee may have the opportunity to continue to work at the Federal or Postal job; a sense that OPM will scrutinize a Federal Disability Retirement application submitted by one who has chosen to resign, in a different and more rigorous light; and multiple similar reasonings employed.

But whether for financial considerations (accessing one’s TSP), personal reasons (moving to a different location to be with family, etc.), or psychological decisions (the action itself may allow for some sense of finality and culmination of relief), sometimes it may be necessary to contemplate the act of resignation.

How such a resignation should be worded may play somewhat of a relevant part, and should be reflected upon before any final submission.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Resignation Argument

Sometimes, in preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management under FERS or CSRS, one is either forced to resign or, because of financial or other reasons, it is the best course of action to take.  

In any resignation, one should submit a resignation letter which clearly and concisely identifies the reason for one’s resignation:  Medical inability to perform one’s job.  While such resignation, for the reasons stated, may not invoke what is termed the “Bruner Presumption“, it nevertheless lays the groundwork for arguing that one is entitled to the Bruner Presumption.  

Now, understand that such an argument may fly completely over the heads of anyone and everyone at the Office of Personnel Management.  However, if the case is denied both at the Initial Stage of the Process, and at the Reconsideration Stage of the Process at the Office of Personnel Management, then it must be filed as an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  There, with an Administrative Judge reviewing the record, while it may still end up that one is not entitled (technically) to the Bruner Presumption, sometimes the strength of an argument in favor of a legal precedent is almost as strong as obtaining the substantive elements of the legal precedent.  

Indeed, if all of the corollary issues surrounding the stated resignation for medical reasons are consistent — the medical documentation; using FMLA; being on OWCP for part of the time, or otherwise only able to work part of the time; etc. — then the fact that one was forced to resign based upon one’s medical inability to perform one’s job, is a consistency worth documenting and arguing thus:  While it is true that one was not removed for one’s medical inability to perform the job, it is “as if” one was removed, because there was really no other choice available.  Sometimes, it is the argument itself which provides the foundation for persuasion, and not the technical application of a legal device.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire