Medical Retirement for Federal Government Workers: Sides (Part II)

Side orders are meant to compliment the entree; there are specific types of appetizers and addendum dishes which enhance the culinary delights, and those with more sophisticated and refined salivary receptors tend to make a magnified fuss about such issues, especially in posh restaurants where a display of the proper matching of manners, wines, menus and side orders are embraced with an upturned nose of superiority and a disdain for those who fail to follow the propriety of civilized society.

Choosing sides and the ability to do so, tells much about a person.

In restaurants, furtive glances are often exchanged when a person attempts to order in the original language of the cuisine; in sports, from an early age, choosing sides reveals one’s fealty, and ingratiating self-to-popularity by excluding those who are are estranged from the inner circle of cliques is the safer route to take.

Coordinating loyalties from an early stage in one’s career is merely an extension of both — of choosing the “right” sides to the entree of one’s profession.  For the Federal and Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the warning signals begin to blare early on.

Old loyalties begin to fray; more recent touches of camaraderie quickly crumble; and what we did for the supervisor, or that major project that we worked late nights for months on endless turmoil which resulted in accolades for upper management — and a satisfying pat on the back for the underlings — are all forgotten.  Clear lines to bifurcate which side you are on, fade with time.  During the 7th inning stretch, the white powder may have to be rolled upon the diamond again, to reestablish the boundaries of the game.

But for the Federal and Postal employee who dares to allow for a medical condition to impact the “mission of the agency”, and to begin to prepare to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the rules of the game itself begin to change radically.  No longer are there boundaries of proprieties; side dishes are not served to compliment, anymore; and there is no one left to be a part of your team.  You have now become the pariah, the outsider; the one estranged from the rest, while everyone else watches you with gleeful betrayal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Sides (Part I)

Was there a time when moral order, social propriety and conventional codes of conduct were bifurcated in such clear and identifiable demarcations, such that everyone knew the rules and roles by which to abide?  Or were there always overlapping and invidious borders which constituted conditional conundrums?  Movies of the old west are still enjoyed today, if not merely for entertainment, then for the simplicity of identifying the differentiation between good and evil, where the grey dawn of loss of certitude is rarely implied.

People take “sides” each and every day, but the lack of verifiability in determining who stands for what, and what issues are truly worth standing up for, has become a problem of infinite and exponential magnification of wide and confusing latitudes. There are some things in life where privacy must be guarded with the utmost of heightened protective instincts. “Choosing sides” is something we all learned in school; how we choose, and what titers of alarms we utilize, is all the more important when it comes to personal integrity and future security.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question of who our friends are, will quickly surface during the process.  Identifying the adversary is thought to be an easy process; thinking that a supervisor or coworker is a “friend” to be relied upon, is a more daunting and dangerous endeavor.  That is where the confidentiality of an attorney can be helpful.

The beauty of old films and archaic cowboy movies, is that the black-and-white film footage clearly and unmistakably identifies the man in the white hat.  That is the “good guy”.  Within Federal agencies, such clear identification for the Federal or Postal Worker who begins the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, is a rare occasion.

Choosing sides is important.  How one chooses; whom to rely upon; what advice to follow; all are confusing conundrums within a complex world of backstabbers, betrayals, and agencies populated by those who seek to become the next Lady Macbeth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Conversely, the Roles to Perform

Speaking extemporaneously, or in an impromptu manner, can have dangerous consequences, precisely because it diverges from a prepared text or speech.  Comfort zones define most people.  For government agencies and Federal bureaucracies, there are “Standard Operating Procedures”, and in some ways, to adhere to an SOP provides for a fair application of a “one size fits all” approach, thereby preventing allegations of favoritism, actions tantamount to insider trading, or cronyism.

Agencies and organizations tend to react in predictable ways.  Because of such predictability, Federal and Postal employees who have had a “good” relationship with one’s supervisor or manager will often make the mistake that, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such a positive relationship will continue even after informing the agency that one will, has, or intends to, file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

But the mistake in making such an assumption is that the relationship itself necessarily contains an implicitly conditional factor:  continuation of work which benefits the supervisor or manager through a positive reflection of performance, with a greater reflection of good upon the agency as a whole.  Once that conditional element is neutralized, the benefit to the supervisor and the agency is negated, and the relationship itself becomes unnecessary, null and void.  Adversity begins to appear.  Animosity, contention and suspicion abounds.

Federal Disability Retirement by the Federal or Postal employee must be viewed as a medical necessity for the individual; but for the agency, it is like the man who attempts an impromptu remark, and finds that an action outside of the bounds of a standard operating procedure has been disallowed; it’s just that no one told me so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Performance of Roles

Discussions concerning “performance” can often have implicitly negative connotations; for, the term itself can refer to a ‘faking’ of what one truly believes or does, as opposed to the substance of who a person is.  Thus, in the recent nationally-viewed debates, there is widespread discussions about the “performance” of X; whether he “looked” strong, firm, in command of the facts, etc.  Such evaluative statements, of course, appear in obvious contrast to the inverse:  Was X in fact in command of the facts; was he in fact firm, etc.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important while in pursuance of the administrative process, to recognize the performing roles of each entity, and not to confuse them.  To confuse an enemy for a friend can result in disastrous consequences; to mistake a friend for an enemy can change the course of one’s life; to fail to recognize the proper roles in life, can alter one’s future forever.

Supervisors, managers, and those who are superior in rank and position, should never be considered as confidants, as a general rule.  When one is about to separate from Federal Service, or have an underlying intent to do so, should fill one with caution in approaching people to whom information may be disseminated.  Proper roles dictate certain predictable behavior, and in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to acknowledge the roles which each person plays, and to act accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Clarity in the Minefield of Procedural Opposition

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, can be a daunting and intimidating process without the opposition — whether intended or not — from one’s Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  With such “opposition”, life can be made that much more difficult unless one knows one’s rights and the legal obligations of the Agency.  Human Resources Departments of various agencies often reveal peculiar characteristics.

On the one hand, the original raison d’être (the originating reason or purpose for existing) was presumably to assist the employees of the Agency in any and all personnel matters — from payroll issues, to job classification concerns, to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.  However, whether it is because “Management” co-opts the personnel in the Human Resources Department; or whether the employees in an Agency Human Resources Department merely take it upon themselves to become contrary and resistant to the needs and concerns of the very employees for whom the H.R. Department’s originating reason for creation are there for; regardless, it has become a commonplace paradigm that there exists an oppositional attitude towards the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Recognizing this “fact” is important before proceeding down the administrative morass of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Once recognized, it is important to be prepared to understand how one will, and must, maneuver through the administrative procedures in order to reach the ultimate goal — a favorable decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Agency Collateral Actions

Often, in the preceding years before preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there is a “history” of events between an Agency and the Federal or Postal employee.  Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and such a trite adage is certainly true for the Federal and Postal employee.  

Whether in the form of an EEOC complaint or a response to an adverse action which promulgates an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, or multiple other legal forums and responses, actions, etc., there may be a settlement of the issue, and the settlement of such collateral issues may involve a provision concerning Federal Disability Retirement.  

If in fact there is a reference concerning Federal Disability Retirement by the Agency as part of a “global settlement” of collateral issues, it is important to make sure that there is enough specificity in the language to make it worth one’s while to have the provision inserted in a settlement agreement to begin with.  Thus, a generic statement such as, “Agency endeavors to assist the employee in filing for Federal Disability Retirement” would not be very helpful, precisely because the term “assist” can be interpreted in multiple ways, and normally the way that an Agency will interpret the term will not in the least be helpful to the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Language is a tool which must be used carefully; the effectiveness of language, as with any tool, depends upon the competence of the user.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Agency’s Personnel Department

It is always important for each individual, worker, and organizational entity to understand the “role” of one’s position, and that is often the problem with an Agency’s Personnel Department — the “Human Resources” Department of an Agency.  

The irony of being called “Human Resources” is probably not lost to most people, but it is the classic irony of being designated as X and acting in an anti-X manner.  The role of Human Resources Personnel, one would implicitly (and explicitly) expect, is one of assistance of a Federal or Postal worker in the filing, submission and attempt to initiate administrative personnel actions, including Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS.  

Yet, too many Federal and Postal employees have a sense (and often a justified one) that in attempting to obtain the assistance of the Agency’s Personnel/Human Resources Department in the processing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, that the H.R. Department is more of a hindrance than a help.  Now, such broad generalizations are often unfair to particular Human Resources personnel who are in fact very, very helpful to the entire process — but, then, all such generalizations tend to create an unfair net and capture those who run counter to the very generalizations espoused.  That is the very definition of a generalization.  

The role of an H.R. person is (or should be) one of neutral assistance.  Yet, because “management” and those who will remain with the agency long after a person has gone out on Federal Disability Retirement will be the ones with continuing power and influence within the agency, it is often to those “others” that the Personnel Department favors and shows a continuing bias for.  This is what is called “human nature”.  When human nature and human resources collide, it is often the former which wins out, to the detriment of the latter. That is why having an attorney — an advocate for one’s position — is often an important tool to utilize.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire