Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Traps and landmines

They are not just set on the roadsides of war zones or in public squares where the greatest damage can be projected; for, by analogy, they are in existence as metaphors of human deviancy and evil intents. Traps are deliberately set with motives and intentions to capture; landmines and other devices are put in place to maim, injure or kill.

Then, of course, there are analogies used and metaphors employed — of legal traps and linguistic landmines; of contracts that “hide” language in miniature fonts that are designed by clever lawyers to mislead and draw into a cobweb of entanglements meant to enclose, corner and — like traps and landmines — either to capture or to destroy.  Linguistic landmines and traps are the ones we encounter more often than the ones in war zones.

In other countries, in far away places where we see reporters “embedded” and whispering in hushed tones of urgency to give us a sense of danger and exotic misadventures, we get a sense of what real traps and landmines are all about.  But in this country, within our universe of relative calm and peace but for the periodic tumults of tragedies in the next city, the farther town or that “big city” out there — in such relative calm, it is usually just a casual trap of language or a landmine of a metaphorical sort.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the applicant for Federal Disability Retirement must be cautious and wary of the legal and linguistic landmines and traps in the very preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement Application.

Those innocent-looking forms, such as SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability — while they do not pose the same danger as a mousetrap to a mouse or a landmine to a wandering child on foreign soil — nevertheless, they can become problematic unless you are aware of the dangers posed, much like those traps and landmines we hopefully will never encounter in war zones and conflicts afar, in a metaphorical sense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Unwanted Change

Stability is what we seek; yet, with stability comes habituation and a staid routine of repetitive boredom.  Adventure, excitement and stimulation; these come at a price, and so we revert and remain in the cocoon of safety, daydreaming of that potential, other-worldly experience, but only if it can be attained under certain circumstances within our control.

That is the anomaly; change is often desired, but only with certain prescribed and proscribed stipulations within our control.  Unfettered change is to enter into the unknown, and therefore unwanted.

That is why medical conditions which impact one’s daily life is unwanted; not only did we not ask for it, and not only is it a burdensome change which forces one to rethink the course of one’s future; it is an experience into the abyss of the unknown.  It is an unwanted change precisely because it suddenly, and often irreversibly, mandates an alteration of course.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, serious consideration should be given to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, Federal Disability Retirement is an employment benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees.

In the midst of turmoil and change, it allows for a return to the landscape of stability by providing for a base annuity, and a change to engage a second, alternative vocation.  Medical conditions are unwanted changes, and the control which one seeks within the turmoil of life is often found by attaining a further change beyond that unwanted one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: OWCP, SSD, NRP, Etc.

Nothing works in a vacuum.  Issues surround medical disabilities, the Federal and Postal workforce, Social Security Disability benefits, and Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well as temporary total disability benefits received from the Department of Labor, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs — they all intersect in one way or another, and the intersection of all of the issues create a maze of confusion which is often difficult for the Federal or Postal worker to successfully maneuver through the multiple landmines, dead-ends and potential traps. 

Such intersecting difficulties also arise in what the Postal Service has initiated in the last few years — the “National Reassessment Program” — a euphemism for a massive attempt to get rid of anyone and anyone who is not fully productive.  Under this program, the Postal Service is essentially getting rid of all light-duty assignments; and, of course, such a program intersects with Federal Worker’s Comp, because many light-duty or “modified duty” employees are under the umbrella of OWCP-offered work assignments and modified positions and duties.  People are sent home with the reason given that there is no longer any “light duty” jobs; they are then instructed or forced into filing for OWCP benefits; whether Worker’s Comp will actually pay for temporary total disability is a big question mark. 

Ultimately, I believe that the answer will be found in filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits. The NRP (National Reassessment Program) is simply a macrocosmic approach of a large agency (the U.S. Postal Service), mirroring a microcosmic approach (the approach of most agencies towards individual Federal or Postal employees who have a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job) in dealing with “less than fully productive” Federal or Postal employees.  Then, of course, there is the intersecting issue of filing for Social Security Disability benefits, which you have to do anyway, under FERS — but whether one actually gets it, is another issue.  All of these issues intersect; rarely are these issues isolated; the consequential impact of all of these issues need to be viewed in a macro manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire