Federal Disability Retirement: Options

Often, in life, we believe that others walk around with esoteric knowledge unavailable and unreleased; it is considered from the viewpoint of what is, in philosophy, identified as an “epistemological privilege” — that as others have private thoughts which are inaccessible to us, so there must be a vast array of knowledge similarly situated.

Experience teaches us to become suspicious of others, as somehow the inner workings of power and wealth tend to bypass most of us, and the list of uninvited guests to cocktail parties reserved exclusively for the select few parallel a privileged club of partisan divides.  But the truism of life’s encounters also unleashes another candid tautology:  most things are quite self-evident, and Ockham’s razor is the general principle of prevailing determinism.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are puzzled, dismayed, confused and confined by a lack of awareness concerning one’s options when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, information gathering should always be the first step in the process.

Perhaps conundrums will still arise, or confusion may develop resulting from a compounding aggregate of “too much” information “out there”.  Further investigation may be warranted; but in the end, most Federal and Postal employees realize that the options are limited, and the choices relatively uncomplicated.

Federal Disability Retirement remains a preferred option for many, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, over OWCP-based claims (because Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, ultimately); beyond staying with the job (because it will normally turn out that doing nothing will only make the situation worse, in most instances); or expecting an accommodation or reassignment (not likely to happen, as agencies and the U.S. Postal Service rarely look out for the best interests of the Federal or Postal worker first).

In the end, options depend upon knowledge; for, as the corner ice cream shop of yesteryear had but two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, so the modern-day chain sensation may tout 50 or more; but we tend to always come back to the basics, where we find that multiplicity of additives does not make for real alternatives in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Misplaced Guilt & Apologetic Defeatism

There is, of course, such an animal as ‘misplaced guilt‘; it is in consequence of attributing to the wrong object of remorse a sense of honor or fidelity; and the resulting behavior of such inappropriate placement is often actions of an apologetic nature, self-defeating attitude, or an admixture of both.  Such a chemistry of discord can have subtle, unintended (or was it subconsciously intended?) and negative results for the Federal Employee or U.S. Postal Worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

In life, it is often the simple and direct approach which prevails; those who are unaware of their surroundings and forge ahead without sensitivity to others, often accomplish much; and while unfortunate, it is those very people who act with empathetic restraint and in consideration for others, who often get left behind.  And so it is with filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM —  that the person who hesitates and apologetically formulates one’s Statement of Disability (as responsive to Standard Form 3112A), will subconsciously desire a denial.

Statements of disability made with hesitancy; with a sense of apology or remorse; of guilt for even applying for the benefit; all such mind-sets manifest themselves in the narrative of one’s disability.  Yet, it is a misplaced guilt.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the Federal employee’s compensation package, and it is there precisely to allow for the Federal or Postal employee to recuperate, acquire a certain standard of financial security, and perhaps provide an opportunity for a second chance at another productive vocation.  There is no room for misplaced guilt, and certainly no place for an apologetic defeatism in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in a flash, they will jump upon such an approach and take advantage of such misplaced vulnerabilities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Entrenchment versus Fidelity to a Promise

People often have a general sense of obligations and duties, and remain steadfast in fidelity to promises made.  Ultimately, it is actions which confirm the sincerity of words, and not an abundance of additional verbiage.  But fidelity to a course of action can constitute an entrenchment of actions without regard to changing circumstances or the vicissitudes which accompany a career or a course of events.  Intersecting issues will often require a changing response; a change in plans does not necessarily constitute a violation of a promise; rather, it may in fact be the very fulfillment of a promise.

And so it is with Federal and Postal employees who confront and must deal with a medical issue; those projects which were spearheaded by a particular person; those mission statements and goals intended — suddenly, multi-tasking must be pared down to a single duty; time must be taken to attend to one’s medical conditions; the course of action intended must be altered, modified, and sometimes abandoned.

If the essence of X becomes damaged, do its attributes remain untouched, also?  Or must the dependencies be transformed in order to preserve the essence? Staying on a course when the context has encountered dramatic alterations, can be viewed as either foolhardy, stubborn, or valiant.

When a Federal or Postal Worker who is suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, it is time to evaluate and review the course of one’s career.  Opting to preserve one’s health and to prepare and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is not an abandonment of purpose; rather, it is a recognition that life’s unexpected turn has forced a change of course — honorable in intent, and necessary in preservation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: In a Perfect World & Secondary Constructs

In a perfect world, one can propose a hypothetical construct where efficiency of service occurs without thought; where administrative processes are available without glitches or unforeseen hazards; and where the workplace environment is daily supportive and sensitive to the needs of injured and disabled workers.  But of course the corollary of such a construct is that, if indeed a perfect world existed, then much of the world which is established to combat, prevent and counteract the imperfect world would have no need to exist.

It is similar to the problem of those in philosophy who attempt to argue as follows:  How do we know that the world before us is not merely a dream? The answer:  The very reason why we can distinguish between dreams and reality, is presumably because we must first acknowledge the reality of the world; dreams are secondary; the mistake we make is when we make that which is primary into a secondary construct.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee who is engaging the services of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management should be well aware that they are not entering a perfect world.  This is a world of administrative nightmares; of expected denials and delays; and further, a world which is neither sensitive to, nor recognizably aware of, the underlying human suffering which accompanies each and every Federal Disability Retirement packet.

Further, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement case, it is important to keep the essential elements of a Federal Disability Retirement application in a streamlined, focused presentation; otherwise, if you present the argument as a dream-like world, you will get a return response in a nightmarish fashion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Always Returning to the Basics

It is always important to return to basics when considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Just as we are all well-aware of the concepts of a “return to nature”, or going “back to our roots” — such fashionable sayings remind us of the need and the necessity of embracing the foundational virtues which make up any endeavor or activity — so it is with a return to basics in a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Whether it concerns the issue of the medical condition itself; the issue of accommodations; whether “light duty” or “modified duties” have been offered; whether there are EEOC issues, work harassment, Performance Improvement Plans initiated; whether one is being presented with a Proposed Removal based upon factors other than one’s physical or psychiatric inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job — all such issues must draw a line directly to the basic component of:  How does it impact the performing of the essential elements of my job?  Thus is the nexus created; thus does one go back to the basic components of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

While such an approach may not return us back to nature, it will provide a framework for a successful OPM Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Fish or Cut Bait

Colloquial expressions often develop over time because of their shorthanded effectiveness; they are the antiquated equivalent of text-messaging abbreviations, but with greater meaning and potency because of their time-testedness and allowance for a slow, evolutionary progression within a society.  Such expressions allow for a blunt statement which removes all doubts as to meaning; and the statement itself is all that is necessary, with surrounding silence revealing all.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a person contemplating initiating the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement must ultimately come to the decision of moving forward, or not.

Such a bifurcation of clarity in making the decision is necessary both for the sanity and health of the Federal or Postal employee who must make the decision, as well as for the agency who either wants full productivity from its employees, or an ability to “accommodate” the medical condition (in accordance with the governing laws concerning the legal issue of accommodations in the workplace) in order to reach an acceptable level of productivity.

Fish or cut bait; in four words, such a colloquial expression says it nicely:  Initiate the process, or live with the pain and progressive deterioration.  Already, in the very act of trying to explain or “add on” to the expression, nothing of value has been accomplished because the expression itself is sufficient.  As such:  silence.

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

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Vicious Cycle

The circle is the sign of perfection; from the center, the equality of distance to the perimeter of the geometric figure; it also represents an endless cycle, whether of a process, a routine, or of life itself.  The qualitative nature of the circle, however, can be quite different from individual to individual.  Thus, for some, it is described as a “vicious cycle”  — where the circularity of a process feeds upon itself.

Entrance into the repetitive viciousness of the cycle often begins with an interruption, an incident or an issue which does not get immediately resolved in a positive manner.  For the Federal or Postal employee whose options have become limited because of a medical condition, the circularity of the vicious cycle involves the attack, counterattack and adversity engaged in between him/herself and the agency for which he/she works.  Thus, going head-to-head with the agency in a repetitive, endless cycle is an obvious indicator that it is time to contemplate Federal Disability Retirement.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the issue of an agency’s attitude towards the whole process should be taken into account — NOT as to the impact that the agency may have upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but rather, on the more important issue of whether one has a choice to file or not.

That endless cycle — that perfect geometric circle?  It also represents the truism that once the roller coaster begins, it self-perpetuates, and keeps going on the same, repetitive, circular, and endless path of adversity and persecution.  Only the Federal or Postal employee him/herself has the power to get off from the endless cycle — by filing for Federal Disability benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Leverage

The ability to negotiate an advantageous settlement of an issue is dependent not merely upon the possession of leverage, but upon the effective use of that leverage.  Such effective usage would require, first and foremost, a dual presentation:  First, recognition of the value of such leverage, and second, the ability to have the opposing party believe that the value is exponentially exaggerated.  Once these dual components are satisfied, one can be assured that a favorable settlement can be reached.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one often finds that the Federal or Postal employee is involved in multiple facets of collateral litigation or adverse actions with the Agency.  As part of a “global settlement” of legal issues, the agency will inevitably offer the Federal or Postal employee a “disability retirement”.  Yet, the first recognition of order which the Federal or Postal employee must address, is the fact that the agency is not the entity which can grant a Federal Disability Retirement.  Only the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can grant or deny a Federal Disability Retirement application to the Federal or Postal applicant.

Can the support of the agency help?  Yes — if formulated properly.  Be aware, however, as case-law supports OPM’s contention that settlements of collateral issues should not be used as a basis for obtaining the support of an agency in an application for Federal Disability Retirement.  A balancing act must be adopted.  And, as always, Federal Disability Retirement is first and foremost an issue of one’s medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The World in Which We Live

Various social commentators have observed the contradiction that, while we live in an increasingly global economy, individuals feel a greater sense of isolation; thus, the conundrum that the world is no longer an expansive, unreachable universe, but in private lives, the uniqueness of the individual is lost and forgotten.

Whether because of the stresses of isolation, or because of the fast-paced, technologically-driven world in which we live, or some organic-based reasons, one may never know; nevertheless, the exponential explosion of psychiatric illnesses erupting in our society cannot be denied.

There was a time, perhaps a decade or so ago, when a stigma was attached to medical conditions and disabilities which were deemed “stress-related“, and which encompassed depression, anxiety, uncontrollable panic attacks, agoraphobia, etc.  One cannot mark a clear demarcation of when the approach and societal attitude, let alone the medical community’s acceptance, of the wide array of psychiatric conditions, changed.

For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, however, the level of approvals versus denials between cases involving psychiatric conditions, as opposed to purely physical medical conditions, has become indistinguishable.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management does not review or analyze cases based upon psychiatric conditions — so long as one can tell, purely from an “outsider’s” perspective — any differently from “physical” medical conditions.

This is obviously a “good” thing, because psychiatric medical conditions are just as valid, serious, “real”, and devastating, as the most serious of “physical” medical conditions.  The world in which we live has certainly changed; OPM has evolved with the new world, and we are all the better off for it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire