Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Clarion Call that Never Comes

Medical conditions are often subtle in their subversive impact — a slow, progressively deteriorating manifestation, characterized by pain, depletion of energy and stamina, and with manifestations of symptoms which may not be immediately noticeable with a passing glance.

Most of us meet and greet each other with hardly a glance; of “hello-how-are-yous” as polite niceties which are never meant to be seriously responded to; and in the course of such brief human contact, would not know — nor care to be informed of the details — of how a person truly “is” in the context of his or her life, medical condition, or well-being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, being ignored at work by one’s peers, coworkers and supervisors may have become a daily and expected occurrence.

In Medieval times, a clarion call represented a clear and loud trumpeting announcing an event, a call to action, or perhaps the arrival of someone of significance, relevance and importance.  For the Federal or Postal employee who may have to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, an expectation of an analogous call may never come, should not be waited upon, and likely will not occur.

Quietude is the pervasive norm in a society which is impersonal and unable to address each other with compassion or empathy.  Don’t expect a clarion call to be the focal point in deciding to act upon one’s medical condition; it is a call which will likely never be trumpeted, nor heard even if made.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Federal Disability Retirement: Fiscal and Other Cliffs

The general public is, by and large, rather puzzled by the inability of the Executive and Legislative branches to come to terms with the impending “fiscal cliff” facing the nation, precisely because they face such hard decisions on a microcosmic level on a daily basis.

In representing Federal and Postal employees to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is clear that the “everyday person” faces tasks and obstacles which require hard decision-making almost on a daily basis.

The surreal world of the Federal Government, where there is never a debt limit, and where the hardest task is determined by the difficulty of reelection, fails to properly recognize and appreciate the daily toil of its own workers.  Proper management at the highest levels of government should be presumed to take place, so that the “field workers” can continue doing their duties.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has come to a point in his or her life that the positional duties cannot be performed, anymore, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is one which comes with a harsh realization:  one’s chosen career may be effectively over; the camaraderie and interaction with coworkers will cease; the financial security of one’s future will be compromised, etc. But necessity of action results in the making of such decisions, and Federal and Postal employees must, and do, make such decisions on a daily basis.

They face fiscal and other cliffs almost daily; as greater responsibility falls upon those in higher echelons, it is a puzzle why there is a cliff at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Social Isolation

Federal and Postal employees who contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, often feel a profound sense of isolation.

First, of course, the agency itself has a tendency to treat the medically disabled Federal or Postal employee as a pariah; that, somehow, suffering from a medical condition is within the control of the sufferer.

Then, if the agency is informed of the very intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then certain consequential actions often follow:  a PIP may be imposed; leave restrictions may be enforced; an adverse action may be proposed, including a removal — often based not upon the medical condition, but all sorts of “other reasons” that have been tabulated, memorialized and recorded, by supervisors and fellow co-workers.  Yes, there is FMLA; yes, the Federal or Postal employee may file an EEO action or other potential lawsuit; but such counteractions fail to mitigate the sense of isolation and separation that the Federal or Postal employee feels, from an agency which he or she has expended one’s life and energies to advance for the cause of one’s career.

Third, when the Federal or Postal employee finally files with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM’s non-responsive attitude further exacerbates the sense of isolation.  A sense of closure is what one desires; of being able to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then to move on with life into the next phase of a vocation, the next step beyond.

One should always remember:  It is the very act of filing which is the first step in overcoming the profound sense of isolation; for, the act itself and the decision to move beyond, is the affirmative indicator that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Pushing the Reset Button

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is like the proverbial phrase of pushing the “reset” button.  While the phrase is overused and in many ways has lost its useful meaning, the conceptual underpinning implies that it allows for a fresh start.

The decision itself is often the largest hurdle to overcome; once made, it allows for a goal-oriented outlook on a different course of action, and often compels the Federal or Postal worker to manage one’s “life-affairs” with greater determination and incentive, perhaps because one is provided with another proverbial gift:  the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  For, the darkness which pervades is often characterized by the morass of daily pain, the chronicity of the pain, the endless and incessant meaninglessness — of the vicious cycle of coming to work only to survive; then to go home only to recuperate in order to turn right around and go into work for another day of survival; and, often, to an agency which eyes the Federal or Postal worker with suspicion and with little or no loyalty, compassion or sympathy.

Federal Disability Retirement is meant as a mechanism for recuperation from one’s medical condition — a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s particular kind of job, but which will allow for future work in another vocation.  It is the ultimate “reset button” — to allow for the beginning towards a different tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Man’s Best Friend

Dogs reflect the owner’s personality, character, and often even one’s appearance. Whether by intuition or by sheer chance, the choice which the master makes in the selection of a dog is more revealing about the former than the latter.  On the other hand, just as in marriage, where a man and a woman begin to think, act and live alike, perhaps it is merely that the master and the dog begin to assume the personalities, traits and characteristics of one another, over a period of time.  Certainly, there are instances where mismatches occur — as in an older couple rescuing a large dog out of sympathy, but who have neither the physical strength nor the means to manage its care.  Sometimes, the mismatch is merely apparent; what one finds is that the adoption of a particular breed of dog is “just what the doctor ordered”.

In making a decision about preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the initial reaction is simply one of doubt, hesitation and foreboding; for, throughout one’s life, one is taught to advance in one’s career, to “give it one’s all”, and that the Protestant Work Ethic is the essence of meaning which drives one forward from birth until death.  Circumstances dictate one’s life more than one would like to admit; the vicissitudes of life’s unexpected gifts and challenges require an acceptance without doubt or question.  Medical issues will often mandate a change; and while one may be reluctant to change a career, admit to a medical condition which requires a different pace of life, the acceptance of such a change will often prove to be a blessing.  Fear is often both a motivator, as well as the obstacle to change.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is indeed a change which is hard to accept for the Federal or Postal employee; but like adopting a dog which appears to be a mismatch to one’s personality, character, and style of living, it may prove to be the prescription which is necessary.  The real difference is that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will reduce the financial resources one receives; adopting a dog merely increases that which is essential to man’s happiness:  unconditional love, provided in the form of a slobbering canine tongue first thing each morning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: A Conscience for Work

It is a rare animal which one discovers, when a Federal or Postal worker looks forward to the day when he or she is preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

The concept of “conscientiousness” entails the traits of acting in accordance with the dictates of one’s conscience, and one’s conscience is formed and molded by the complex web of core and foundational beliefs — a system of accepted world-view developed throughout the course of one’s lifetime, refined by experience and applied through trial and error.  That concept is discovered in the Federal and Postal worker who has struggled and endured through the various medical conditions that he or she suffers from, and it is indeed rare that the Federal or Postal worker has a “desire” to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

Having said this, however, does not deny the reality that there is a “necessity” to file, when the Federal or Postal worker has come to a point in one’s life where “wants” and “needs” clash.  

One may want to continue to work; the reality of one’s medical condition, however, may dictate the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The fact that one has a conscience for work is a “good” thing.  However, where the desire for X contradicts the need for Y, and where Y entails a medical condition which is clearly preventing one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then the clash of “desire” as opposed to “need” must give way, where the former must be recognized as subservient to the predominance of the latter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Responsibility of the Applicant

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the importance of adequately conveying persuasive information to the Claims Representative at the Office of Personnel Management must be a primary goal of the Federal or Postal employee.  

Rarely does a doctor, without guidance and some “prodding”, execute an administrative duty such as preparing a medical narrative report for a patient, in a sufficiently excellent manner.  The work product of a doctor is normally defined by patient care, clinical examination, and prescribing an effective course of treatment.  It is up to the patient or his/her Federal Disability Attorney to remind the doctor as to “why” it is important to provide a medical narrative report in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Often, it is merely that the doctor does not understand the necessity of preparing a narrative report; or, as confusing as the entire administrative process of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is to the Federal or Postal employee, it is exponentially more confusing to the doctor, who is normally not part of the Federal workforce (unless he or she happens to be a doctor for the Department of Veterans Affairs, or is part of the Veterans Health Care System).  

It is ultimately the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee to convey persuasive evidence and argumentation to the Office of Personnel Management, in order to meet that burden of proof, of showing that by a preponderance of the evidence the Federal or Postal employee has proven that he or she is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. While medical records, treatment notes, office notes, etc., can often be persuasive on their own, the applicant must be able to formulate a statement and refer to “the law” in order to convince the OPM Representative that his or her case meets that burden of proof.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire