Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Paradoxical Soiling of Sacrament

Can a person enter a religious institution (i.e., a church, a synagogue, etc.) without an intent to worship, but merely as an onlooker, and yet assume the role of a congregant without soiling the sacrament of its grounds? Tourists do that all the time, and perhaps mere “visitors” who desire to “try out” a church or other institution.

Is there a paradox in taking pictures of old Roman grounds of sacred pasts? Do we somehow justify actions by assuming one role (e.g., as a tourist and not a member) without the intent of what is originally meant of the place we visit? Can a person lie to one’s self, or unintentionally deceive others merely be entering a place of worship, or does one declare the status properly by having a digital camera in tow?

Similarly, if a Federal or Postal Worker goes to work without declaring one’s medical condition, and is able to for many years mask and conceal the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is there anything wrong with such deception — except perhaps that one is doing grave harm by progressively and purposefully deteriorating one’s own body?

Federal and Postal Worker have a tendency to do that, and in today’s harsh and competitive work environment, holding onto one’s job at all costs appears to be the rule of thumb, until it becomes apparent to everyone around, and lastly to one’s self, that one cannot continue in the same vein, any longer.

In that event, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, becomes the only viable option left; assuming, of course, that one has a body, mind or soul left to enjoy in retirement. But that is always the paradox of soiling any sacrament — especially the sacrament of one’s own body.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Price of Good Intentions to Deceive

Can one possess good intentions to deceive?  Such a paradoxical claim would normally constitute what is commonly referred to as an oxymoron, as the concept of “good” would countermand the opposing construct of deception.  Thus, it is not the intention itself which makes for the conundrum, but rather the originating focus of the will to act.

For the Federal and Postal employee who masks one’s medical conditions, whether of a physical nature, a psychiatric condition, or concerning the medications which are prescribed and taken at the direction of one’s medical provider in order to alleviate the symptoms of the condition and perhaps as a palliative measure, the price which one pays for not immediately informing one’s agency may range from nothing, to unforeseen consequences far into the future.

Is it technically “deception” to engage in a negative — i.e., to not immediately inform?  Is there an affirmative duty to convey or otherwise divulge such private information, if the medical condition has not yet become so apparent as to openly manifest an impact upon one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job?

Conversely, does the supervisor and the agency perform a service of “good” if performance ratings continue to reflect superior or outstanding, when more recent work has clearly diminished in volume and/or quality, but because of past performance and an ongoing sense of loyalty, the supervisor wants to just “sign off” by regurgitating past evaluations and assigning a current date?

Ultimately, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, one must at some point divulge the medical condition, if not merely at the time of filing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application through the agency’s Human Resources Department.  The timing of such divulgence, however, can sometimes impact the reactionary impulses of an agency.  In the end, the Agency must complete SF 3112D in response to the applicant’s filing; and whether the agency was previously informed or not, an effort to see whether an appropriate accommodation can be made will become an integral part of the process.

From the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of timing — of the good or neutral intentions of the applicant — rarely comes into play.

As for any “deception” involved, the only one who would be harmed by any such intention would be the one who bravely attempts to continue working through the pain of the condition itself, and the harm which continues to progressively deteriorate the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to perform all of the essential elements of one’s position.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Threatened Order

One’s orderliness of life is dependent upon the next person; and like the proverbial domino which stands precariously wedged between the one previous and the one subsequent, the universe of stability is dependent upon the static nature of the surrounding environment.

Thus, in the antiseptic neighborhoods around the country, the quietude of the next door neighbor ensures the peacefulness of one’s heart.  If a violent eruption or turmoil occurs next door, and the flashing lights of law enforcement blink through the closed blinds and curtains of your house, you feel violated.

The principle has been tested and verified, that one’s own order in a physical, as well as psychological sense, is only as secure or vulnerable as that maintained by the next person.  For, we do not view ourselves; we view the world around us, and especially our peers, neighbors, coworkers and extended families, and it is by judging the stability of our surrounding environment by which we determine the security of our own lives.  That is why when a person becomes disabled, it threatens the relative peace and security of supervisors and coworkers within the agency, and they react accordingly.

In advising Federal and Postal Workers throughout the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question which is often asked is the timing of when to inform one’s Supervisor as to the intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, the time to inform should normally coincide with the actual event of filing, unless there is a valid reason to preemptively inform the agency.

The reaction of an agency is rarely different is substance from one’s neighbor or relative; the disruption of one’s antiseptic and ordered life is seen when a blemish occurs upon the landscape of a cosmetically airbrushed photograph.  When a slight rumble is heard, one looks immediately to the domino standing to the fore and the aft, in the known language of shipmates drifting rudderless in the vast sea of our own making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Agency Tendency

A Federal or Postal Worker who has worked for any number of years, already knows (intuitively) what the Agency’s response is going to be when he or she files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS:  Self-protection, minimal cooperation, and a “know nothing” and “do nothing” approach.  This is merely the tendency of most agencies.  Every now and then, there is an exception to this general perception of how a Federal Agency will respond and react; normally, however, any such exception is merely a reflection upon an exceptional individual — a supervisor who is truly looking out both for the best interests of the agency, as well as for a Federal or Postal worker who deserves praise and cooperation as he or she enters into a difficult phase of life. 

Agencies tend to respond in a “self-protective” mode; of covering itself; of being uncooperative, thinking that an individual who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is (A) no longer of any use to the agency, (B) reflects badly upon the overall perception of the agency, or (C) is merely faking the disability.  The truth of the matter is that a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits has probably exhausted all possible alternatives, and has killed him/herself in trying to continue to work.  However, sympathy and empathy are two emotions which Agencies sorely lack in, both qualitatively and quantitatively; and as with all tendencies, it is good to be aware of them, if only to be on guard.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Time, Terms & Conditions

Never wait upon a Federal Agency to determine the time, terms and conditions for filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  While there are rare instances in which a potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement feels an utmost sense of loyalty, such that he or she absolutely must inform the Agency of the impending desire and intent to file an application for disability retirement, in most cases it will simply backfire.  Yes, there are those rare instances when an Agency reciprocates the many years of loyalty given; but even in those rare instances, there is nothing that the Agency can do which is of such value in a Federal Disability Retirement case which would warrant or justify the anticipatory probability that the reaction to such information may be to have enough preparatory time to undermine such an application.  Yes, the Supervisor’s Statement could be helpful — but won’t the supervisor likely be helpful anyway, if he or she already has such a reputation, whether or not a potential applicant informs the agency (via the supervisor) a month or two beforehand?  It is the applicant who is always at the disadvantage; as such, the applicant who intends to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should be the one who controls the time, terms and conditions of when the Agency will be informed of any potential disability retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire