Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: The Morning After

The next day always comes; regardless of the anticipatory delay in accepting the harsh reality of the coming days and months after the celebratory pause allowed through an event, a holiday or the respite of a weekend, the morning after always follows, and the reality of facing the inevitability of that which was and is, delayed perhaps for a moment and a glorious interlude, a certainty of subsequent coming.

So the treadmill begins again; the daily grind must be faced; the trauma experienced the day before must now be encountered anew the day after.

Holidays are great periods of quietude and temporary suspensions of reality, but when the presents are all opened and the guests have all left, the reality of facing one’s daily life must be refreshingly embraced.  For Federal and Postal workers who experience a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration needs to be given for Disability Retirement — which provides a longer respite and the needed period of recuperative relief in order to attend to one’s medical conditions.

Delay for a period works for that period; procrastination in order to celebrate an event or a holiday is often a necessary interlude; but in the end, the Federal or Postal worker who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must make some serious decisions and consider the impending consequences, beginning on the day after, and sometimes even the morning after.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who faces a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, it is always the morning after which is the critical period.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Indicators

The technology of automobiles has changed radically in the past 2 decades.  No longer do we rely upon intuition, the automotive “ear” for that strange sound which, when talking to the service department, we attempt with futility to reenact with absurd pitches and tones in an attempt to accurately depict that which fails to occur when brought to the attention of the mechanic.  Instead, there are electronic warning lights and the computer sensors which specifically and with great detail indicate a past occurrence, a present problem, or a needed future course of action.

If the human body is the ultimate composite of neuro-sensors and complexities of the physical, the psychological, and the coalescence of mind, body and soul (including the philosophical “ghost in the machine“), then pain must be the warning indicator for past transgressions, current anomalies, and future need for servicing.  Those who ignore automotive warning signs do so at their peril; similarly, to ignore such signs emitted by the human body and transcribed in no uncertain terms via the daily chronicity of pain, do so with a singular certainty of progressive deterioration and decline.

Ultimately, the decision for the Federal or Postal Worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be accomplished once warning signs are heeded, and a blunt discussion with doctors, family and friends are engaged; but it is the pure and unadulterated ignoring of all signs which results in crisis and disaster.

The warning signs are there to heed; the future course of action is still left up to the recipient of such indicators.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Impending PIP

The Performance Improvement Plan (otherwise known by the acronym, a “PIP”) is the formal imposition of an administrative procedural process to “assist” the employee into improving his or her specific work requirements, or for modification of certain behavior issues.

From the Federal Agency’s perspective, it invokes a paper trail which will justify additional future actions, if necessary.  From the Federal employee’s viewpoint, it should serve as a warning that unknown other conversations and discussions have been ongoing, and the PIP is merely a surface revelation, with much underworld life and activity unrevealed but indicated by the issuance of the PIP.

If a medical condition is a large part of the reason why underperformance and poor performance justifies the issuance of a PIP, then revelation of the medical condition in response to the PIP should be considered.

Concurrently, because a PIP is an open and declared step towards ultimate and likely termination — especially when the physical or mental condition will continue to prevent the Federal employee from being able to meet the requirements of the PIP — it is a good idea to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Being a sitting duck merely means that you are the target in a shooting gallery; before your turn comes up, it serves the Federal and Postal employee well to chart one’s own course before it is determined for you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Settlement of Collateral Lawsuits

Appearance versus reality has been an ongoing philosophical issue within the Western Classical Tradition for centuries; it involves the very essence of the culture and heritage of the West, beginning with the Pre-Socratics (e.g., Parmenides), and continuing with Plato, Aristotle…to Heidegger; and until the dawn of modern Philosophy, where linguistic hermeneutics began to prevail, constituted the dominant foundation of philosophical inquiry. How a thing is presented, or “looks”, as opposed to what a thing “really is”, or the “essence” of being, forms the fundamental philosophical inquiry.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often the case that the Federal or Postal employee is involved in some collateral lawsuit or adversarial process — often directly with the agency itself, in an EEO forum, MSPB or U.S. District Court.  

Inevitably, settlement negotiations will often occur, and the issue of whether a Federal or Postal employee can be retroactively “separated” for his or her medical inability to perform one’s job may be offered.  How the settlement is formulated; what is stated in the settlement agreement; what promises are made, etc., are all important in order for such agreements to effectively assist in the Federal or Postal employee being able to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  OPM objects to the Federal Retirement fund being used as a tool for settlement of collateral lawsuits.  

Any settlement agreement must not “look” like it is merely a carrot for enticement to medically retire.  The reality of the situation is important.  As always, we go back to our Western roots — appearance versus reality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Right Timing

Timing the preparation and submission, and ultimate separation/retirement from Federal Service in getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is rarely a method of precision; it is closer to art than it is to science.  That is because there is the “human” element involved — of when does the medical condition reach its critical point where one cannot withstand the daily and chronic pain; is the doctor ready to support the Federal Disability Retirement application; is the Agency sympathetic or suspicious; can the reduced finances be worked out for a livable standard of living; will the future allow for all of the elements to coalesce? 

There are many, many such human elements which must come into play.  All too often, however, the “right time” for contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is simply determined by external circumstances, such as reaching a critical point in one’s medical condition such that there is simply no other choice left, as opposed to being able to rationally and calmly make an affirmative decision for one’s future.  Whatever may be the particular and peculiar circumstances of a given Federal or Postal employee, the time to consider preparing a Federal disability retirement application must be a decision made by each individual, based upon that individual’s unique circumstances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Don't Confuse the Standards

People who call me for advice, who are potential candidates as clients for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, often interchangeably use terms which apply to different standards:  standards of total disability as opposed to a medical disability which impacts one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; whether a medical condition is an “accepted” disability (a concept which is often used in Social Security disability cases); whether a person can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits even though he “hasn’t reached MMI” (“Maximum Medical Improvement”) — which is language encompassing a concept familiar to OWCP/DOL (Worker’s Comp) cases; or, on a different level, the statement that an agency has been “accommodating” an employee by allowing him/her to take sick leave, Leave Without Pay, or to “not have to travel as much” — mistakenly or loosely using the term “accommodation”, when in fact such agency actions do not constitute a legally viable accommodation, as that term is used in Federal Disability Retirement laws. 

It is the job of the attorney to correct, clarify, and otherwise explain the proper terminology and precise application of concepts in Federal Disability Retirement cases.  It is not surprising that people who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS use the various terms in error, or mix terms unknowingly — for there is alot of misinformation “out there”; it is the job of an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law to clarify such confusions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire