USPS Postal and Federal Gov. Disability Retirement: That False Sense of Loyalty

Longevity often masks itself for loyalty; yet, when an organization is so large and impersonal such that each cog in the wheel merely represents an irrelevant fraction of the larger entity, then the relative importance of the individual becomes correspondingly diminished in relation to the greater whole.

Loyalty has always implied the concept of bilateralism; but within an organization which has become a virtual Leviathan, it becomes an unilateral concept.  For Federal and Postal employees, length of service and commitment to the agency’s “mission” will often engender a strong sense of loyalty.  But such loyalty is misplaced if it is paid with the price of one’s medical health, whether physical, emotional, or psychological.

One of the greatest obstacles which forestalls a Federal or Postal employee from filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a sense of shame and misguided loyalty to one’s agency.  Somehow, the Federal or Postal employee thinks that he or she is “letting the agency down” by filing for Federal Disability Retirement and separating from Federal Service.  But such a sense of loyalty is misplaced, misguided, and at best a self-immolation of purposes.

Look to see how the agency treats you in actions, not in terms of how you perceive how the world should be.  While honor is a virtue to be applauded, failure to preserve one’s health is a folly which cannot be afforded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Habit Encountering Critical Mass

Most people live lives of peaceful habituation; and while Henry David Thoreau would add that they live “lives of quiet desperation,” such a state of desperation erupts only when the habit of daily living, whether quiet or not, is interrupted by an event or a series of events.

Those who retain their health, or have never encountered a period of chronic medical conditions, can never fully comprehend the tumult and trials of such impact — upon one’s professional life, certainly, but moreover, upon the private life of quiet habit, of merely attempting to sit in a chair; to read; to engage in a leisure activity.  But “leisure” can be enjoyed only if the substantive life of habitual endurance can be lived in a relatively peaceful manner.

For those who have come to a point of contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that former life of peace and quietude — of that “boring” daily habit of thoughtless living — must now be confronted with the reality of a medical situation which must be aggressively pursued, in order to secure one’s future, and to retain some semblance of peace back into one’s life.

Those Federal or Postal employees who must fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — ah, but if only they could have remained in their peaceful lives of daily habituation.  But the encounter with the reality of a medical condition awakens them from such peace and repetitive living; there comes a point when a different course must be affirmatively taken, with obstacles dropped in the path — from a hostile work environment, to coworkers and family members who show no empathy — but the fight must be fought, so that one day the disrupted life of quietude may once again be attained in some semblance of sanity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But…

I often wonder how many unrepresented disability retirement applicants there are who, having received a denial letter at the First Stage of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, never file a Request for Reconsideration because they believe what the Office of Personnel Management stated in the Denial Letter.  Sometimes, I will get telephone calls from people who want to file, and during the course of the conversation, it will come out that they had filed a few years previously, and had been denied.  “Did you file a Request for Reconsideration, at the time?” I ask.  “No,” is the answer.  “Why not?” I ask.  The typical answer?  “Because I just thought there was no way to fight them on it.” 

I used to be amazed at such answers, but after some thought, it makes sense.  As an attorney, my first instinct (both trained and natural) is to always take something to the next level, with the firm belief that I will prevail just by pure persistence, and by using the law as “a sword” in the process of fighting for my clients.  But most people are not lawyers (some would say, thank goodness for that, we have enough lawyers in the world), and when the Office of Personnel Management writes up a denial letter, then allegedly cites “the law”, and makes bold conclusions such as, “You do not meet the eligibility criteria under the laws governing disability retirement…”  It all sounds convincing.  It all sounds like any further action will be an act of futility.  But just because OPM “says so” doesn’t make it true, doesn’t make it right, and certainly doesn’t make it unwinnable.  They may say you don’t meet the eligbility criteria; I would argue otherwise.

Sincerely,
Robert R. McGill, Esquire