Federal Employee Disability Information: Lip Service to Losses

It is admitted under the cover of gaining, and never standing alone as a mark of proud achievement.  To lose is to be forgotten; and while we give lip service in various ways — as in, “Oh, we learned so many valuable lessons from our losses”, or “Behind every success story is a failure of tenfold that allowed the person to learn and grow”, or ever the clincher: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game” — such losses always end up in the ash heaps of history’s forgotten events, while the “winners” move on into the next phase of life’s ongoing narrative.

Yet, we continue to perpetuate the myth that life’s lessons are best gained by the failures and disappointments that we encounter, and that is what “giving lip service” ultimately means: the insincerity of words in contrast to one’s belief as beheld close to one’s heart.  That is why it becomes increasingly difficult for this generation, as opposed to and in contrast with previous generations, to handle the stresses of daily failures and unmet expectations.

We cannot strip away the reality of the world throughout one’s upbringing and childhood, constantly telling every child that everyone is doing a “great job” and have “special talents” at every turn and hiccup of life’s turmoils, then expect them to be able to handle the daily and overwhelming stresses of life’s experiences that must by necessity include setbacks and the bumping into the harshness of stark cruelty of the world, then expect a placid, calm and positive view of experiential stability.

The harshness of reality is that, indeed, this is a hard life, and no matter how much technology may promise the easing pain and modernity the hope for a utopian society, the frailty of the human condition cannot be avoided.  That is the reality-check that a medical condition imposes — that we are not mere lesser gods among beasts of burden, but in fact have just as many burdens and are subject to the unexpected vicissitudes of life’s happenstances.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to realize that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application may not meet the expectations of those who give lip service to the idea itself — i.e., that yes, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will “support” you in your application; that the Human Resource Office will do everything in their power to “accommodate” you; that your Supervisor or Manager is “sympathetic” to your situation, etc.

They may speak the words, but in their “heart of hearts” is that notion that filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is on the side of “losses” and not of categories empowered by “wins”, and therefore you must be careful in who you confide with when preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM.

Always remember, however, that consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law will guarantee that “lip service” will not be mere words, but a careful guidance and strategizing of that which is in your best interests, and with full confidentiality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Happiness revisited

What is it that makes people happy?  Is it constituted by generic categories (like “wealth”, “fame”, “friendships”, “popularity”, etc.), or is it specific to each individual (i.e., for Joe, it is to have sufficient time daily to become lost in reading; for Alice, the opportunity to go out with friends at least once a week; for Mary and Steve, to be in one another’s company, etc.) such that, while specific conditions can be described as the prerequisite for individual happiness, they can nonetheless be categorized into more generic forms while never losing the unique content of that which constitutes the essential ingredients for such individual happiness?

If generically-based, can it be “bottled” — i.e., advertised and sold?  Isn’t that what much of commercial advertising is all about — not the product itself, although that is the ultimate goal, but of the underlying message that by means of the product, the end will result in happiness?

Thus, teeth whiteners and dental conglomerates don’t just sell straightened teeth or gleaming smiles; rather, they sell happiness.  Otherwise, why else would everyone be smiling stupidly and pretending (for that is what actors and actresses do) that they are ecstatic in their roles?  And car insurance, life insurance, reverse mortgages and financial institutions — what are they selling but happiness through security and a sense of peace?

More importantly, should happiness ever be a goal, or is it best to allow it to remain as a byproduct and a natural consequence of a worthy life’s endeavors?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the issue of one’s happiness is always present in stark contrast to the current human condition of deteriorating health: for, misery is the flip-side of happiness, and to that old standardized testing torture we all had to undergo as school children, happiness is to health as misery is to ___?  What would be the appropriate word used to fill in the blank?  Ill-health?  Sickness?

When one’s health deteriorates, the priorities of life suddenly come into sharper focus, for health is the foundation from which all else flows. Happiness, one begins to realize, cannot be the center and foundation; it is, instead, a byproduct of good health, solid relationships and productive careers, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who begins to 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, serious consideration should be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted, reviewed by and approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Application: The tools we have for use

The foundation is always “all-important”; but there are other tools at one’s disposal, and the question is:  Do we know and recognize what those tools are, and if not, how can we use them out of ignorance?

How does SSDI intersect with FERS Disability retirement – not the issue of offsetting the concurrent payments after approval of each (that is merely a monetary calculation that has nothing to do with getting a FERS Disability Retirement application approved); rather, should an approval of an SSDI application have a legal impact upon a FERS Disability Retirement?  How about a denial – but one with a statement in the SSDI denial letter acknowledging that the FERS Disability Retirement applicant is unable to perform the duties of his current/former employment, but may be able to do “other employment”?

How should a mixed removal be utilized to its most effective manner?  If a person is removed partly for his or her medical inability to perform the essential functions of the job, but also because of AWOL issues or excessive LWOP usage, does it undermine the application and efficacy of a Bruner Presumption argument?

What should be done with a Department of Veterans Affairs rating?  Is it always persuasive, never determinative?  Even if persuasive, should it always be introduced, or is discretion the better part of valor – or, in the case of a FERS Disability Retirement application, the better part of value in using it as “proof” for a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Should medical documentation be indiscriminately submitted?

In other words, in a FERS Disability Retirement application, does the FERS Disability applicant have any rights as to dissemination of medical documentation, especially those portions which do not go to the substantive centrality of one’s claim in requesting a Federal Disability Retirement approval?  To what extent can the FERS Disability Retirement applicant and his/her attorney have the right to act as the “gatekeeper” in providing sensitive medical documentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Tools – we have them; but of what use, efficacy or relevance are they, if they are left in reserve without pragmatic utilization?  And, as to the “reserve” – should the FERS Disability Retirement applicant keep in tow any of the tools, or should they all be used in an aggregate, cumulative powerhouse of aggressive and forceful argumentation?

Tools – to have them is one thing; to use, another; but more than that, to know what to use, when, how, and to what applicable relevance; that is the power behind the inertness of that which can be enlivened by knowledge, information and discretionary utilization.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The factors to consider

Whenever a problem arises, are you the kind of person who immediately rushes headfirst in order to “solve” it?  Are you like a first responder who by necessity, duty or conscience of being, sprints to save and runs to resolve?  Or, in contradistinction to circumstances that require thoughtless effort but urgent actions, do you consider the factors and ask the question, What criteria must be applied?  What would be considered a resolution of the problem, as opposed to a temporary cessation of a crisis-driven implementation?

The two are somewhat dissimilar, of course, in that the first example often does not have the luxury of pausing for a query, and the latter may allow for an ebb of questioning.

Thus, one would not want a philosopher pondering the conundrum of existential posits when the primary pipe draining sewage away from one’s home has a crack that is growing into an open fissure.  On the other hand, if repetition of recurring problems have haunted for some time, and the solution appears to require something beyond mere pragmatic settlement but a higher order of principled restraint, the factors leading to an overarching criterion may be mandated for a more far-reaching solution.

This is true in much of life.  There are many who repeat the same thoughtless actions only to find that the temporary solution comes back with ever greater fervor; few who ponder the underlying principles; and lesser still of a community of thoughtful cadavers who awaken from the slumber of daily monotony to consider the underlying factors that gird the first principles of life itself.

What factors need to be considered?  Where do we go from here?  Can we live on such reduced income?  Can we make it to the age of retirement, or the required combination of service time plus age, and still be in good enough health to enjoy some semblance of a retirement?  Will my agency continue to harass, employ mechanisms of onerous leave restrictions, and ultimately impose the sanctions of constant workplace hostility, and can I survive them all?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a crossroads of sorts, where the medical condition, the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and the pressure that can no longer be withstood with the coalescence of such onerous burdens, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step in resolving the repetition of a horrendous culture of dismay.

Life is never perfect, but when a problem which appears persistent and chronic will not simply go away because being a first responder is not the right solution to the difficulty, then the Federal or Postal employee must consider the factors that underlie the problems which constitute the principles inherent, and move forward with pragmatic steps towards a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The silence erupting in the room

You go out for a moment – perhaps to smoke a cigarette (do people actually do that these days?), to “freshen up” (is that necessarily a sexist presumption, in that women are the only ones who need to do so, or wasn’t it more likely just a euphemism to avoid the crass declaration that one has to “go to the potty”?) or just to get away from the din of dinner conversation; and, upon reentering the room those eyes look askance, askew, and away from you.

What happened?  Does suspicion abound, or is it merely paranoia that prevails?  Does sudden silence simultaneously synchronized with one’s reappearance constitute enough evidence to conclude that the gossip previously directed at someone other than yourself had shifted to include the reentering individual just previously having disappeared for a brief interlude?

Perhaps, instead, just before coming back to join the fray, there had been a pause in the conversation; or, it just so happened that everyone was taking a sip or gulp of whatever people were drinking, and as you reentered, the cumulative silence just so happened to prevail at the precise moment of appearance.  Coincidences of such natures do occur; yet, there is always that nagging feeling that the exact opposite is true – that, yes, they were all talking about you, and the embarrassing silence suddenly pervaded like a heavy London fog suddenly extracting its shroud of mystery and burden of conversation upon a topic well-worn by clawing swipes and innuendoes otherwise left undefended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, that is often the fear and the gloom of dread, isn’t it?  That you – the absent Federal employee; the Postal worker who has filed for FMLA protection; the Federal employee who has been on extended LWOP – are the subject of constant gossip, and the grumblings and lies disseminated become the silence erupting in the room.

In the end, there is little that can be done about people who engage in gossip, whether in the bathroom, the kitchen or at the workplace; people will talk, and somehow believe that it makes them superior.

Ultimately, the best revenge is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and file it through one’s agency or U.S. Postal Service H.R. Office, and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to escape from the din of cheap talk and chicanery, such that it becomes irrelevant whether, upon reappearance into a roundtable full of gossipers, the silence erupting in the room had to do with you, or just a mere coincidence of unexplainable phenomena coalescing just at the moment of reentrance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire