OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Tyranny of Logic

The general concept of ‘tyranny’ is normally reserved for extreme cases of autocratic emblems of dictatorships, governmental overreaching, denial of due process, etc., and is rarely used in addressing issues arising in Federal Disability Retirement laws governing Federal and Postal workers who are attempting to access an employment benefit which is part of the Federal and Postal employment package — that of Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  In this use of the term, however, it is in conjoining two independent concepts:  that of ‘tyranny’ and that of ‘logic’.  The compounding of the terms results in a concept which is applicable in a positive sense.  Allow me to explain. 

In the course of filing for Federal or Postal disability retirement benefits, when one is denied at any level of the administrative process, one has a right to a further appeal.  Thus, if the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is denied at the First Stage of the process, then you have a right to have it ‘reconsidered’ (called the “Reconsideration Stage“, appropriately).  If it is denied a second time, you then have the right to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board — and beyond.  At each stage of the process, one hopes that in the review and evaluation of the Federal Disability Retirement application, first by the Office of Personnel Management, then by an Administrative Judge, then by a Federal Appellate Judge, that a set of legal criteria is fairly and uniformly applied, such that the ‘tyranny of logic’ rules.  In this sense, ‘tyranny’ is meant to apply in a positive sense, in that a logical, fair and uniform application of the law is applied to the set of facts presented by the Federal or Postal disability retirement application.  This all assumes, of course, that somewhere along the line of the ‘food-chain’ of review, that someone has been exposed to either logic, logical argumentation, or the ‘rules of logic’.  Hope springs eternally.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire