OPM Disability Retirement: The Crumbling Walls of Professional Conduct

The aged bemoan of modernity; youth view the present as merely fodder for change and future potential; and caught in between, somewhere in the netherworld of inertia, those inconsequential individuals relegated to the irrelevant category of “middle age”, who must stand by and witness the slow and progressive destruction of the past, the deterioration of cohesiveness of the future, and the present infirmity of impotence.

Medical conditions are funny animals; because they are personal in nature, the revelation of such private matters tends to scare people, because the emergence of such confidential conveyance violates the unspoken walls of professional distance; but for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service, it is often necessary to provide some component of one’s medical condition in order to ascertain and establish the extent of needed accommodations — for purposes of filing for FMLA, to take needed SL or LWOP, or to counter allegations of misconduct or violation of “leave policy”, etc.

Within the greater context of life, there is a sense there the walls of professional conduct which once protected privacy concerns and acceptable behaviors, are crumbling in modernity.  Anything and everything goes; there is no normative constraint, anymore, because the demarcation between private and professional have disappeared.

The same is true when applied to the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The entire bureaucratic process engenders privacy concerns because of the sensitive nature of the information which must be submitted.  But those are merely “side issues” which should be placed in their proper perspective; for, in the end, when the final wave of goodbye is motioned, and one has obtained an approval from OPM in order to exit with a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the crumbling walls of professional conduct as revealed by one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service will be but a far echo of past misdeeds, as one walks out into the future of a brighter tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Trust

Words have become increasingly malleable.  They can be reformed, restated, interpreted in multiple ways, and ultimately made to conform to what an individual desires it to mean.  Trust is based upon the mutual understanding of words.  As such, the breach of trust can come about quite rapidly, as the deterioration of such mutual understanding becomes apparent.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often an issue of “trust” between the Agency from which the Federal or Postal employee is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and the Federal or Postal employee him/her self.  The extent to which an agency is informed of the process; issues of confidentiality and whether privacy concerns are breached — all involve an issue of trust.

Unfortunately, trust is also an issue which, for whatever reason, is instilled as a desire in human beings.  Most people “want” to trust another individual, and because of this desire, it can be used as a predatory bait for those who may have motivations and reasons other than the best interests of the Federal or Postal employee.

Finally, what this author has always believed, is the following:  The test of sincerity is represented by past actions, not the mere speaking of words.  Yet, even actions do not constitute a complete source of reliability.  In the end, discretion calls for limited revelation of information.  An “only need-to-know, when necessary” rule should always be applied to confidential, private information.  And what can be more confidential and private, than one’s own medical condition in the preparation, formulation and filing of Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Timing and the Necessity of Sharing Information

The problem with sharing sensitive information with others is that the question of trust always enters into the picture.  As noted in a previous blog, a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be willing to submit sensitive medical information to one’s agency, at some point in the process.

Such submission — and therefore, presumptive “sharing” of such sensitive medical information — can hardly be avoided, because there are legitimate reasons why the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service must view and analyze the information.  Such mistrust of a Federal Agency is certainly not unfounded (yes, a double-negative is difficult to discern, but necessary nonetheless), and the concern rises exponentially based upon the nature of the medical submission, the prior historical encounter with the Agency in the arena of other litigation, adverse actions, legal forums, etc.  Then, the question of timing must be considered — for, if other litigation is pending, there is a question whether the submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application will impact any other pending issues.

Ultimately, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one assumes that the goal of the applicant is to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, and be separated from Federal Service as an obvious but necessary consequence; and, in doing so, to suffer the cost of revealing some sensitive medical information in order to achieve that goal.

In attempting to reach that goal, one must get beyond the intermediate “wall” — one’s own agency — in order to arrive at the destination — the Office of Personnel Management.  That wall must be allowed to display some personal information.  How; to what extent; to whose viewing; and when and for what purposes, must be contained and restricted based upon a standard of ensuring, to the extent possible, that such viewing is limited to those who have a “must see” position in order to complete the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Revealing Sensitive Medical Information

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often the expressed concern about submission of sensitive medical information — of who will view it, what it will be used for, how widely it will be disseminated, and for what purpose, etc.

If a Federal or Postal employee has not been separated from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or has been separated but not for more than thirty one (31) days, then the entire Federal Disability Retirement application must be submitted to the Human Resources Department of the particular agency for which the employee works.  Once there, control and containment of the sensitive medical information which is included in the Federal Disability Retirement packet is based upon the good faith of the agency.

Obviously, there are purposes for which certain individuals may need to view the medical information — e.g., for purposes of completing Standard Form 3112D, Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts, in order for the Federal Agency to determine whether or not accommodation or reassignment is possible or feasible based upon the extent, type and severity of the medical conditions suffered by the Federal or Postal employee.  Beyond, that, however, the medical information should not be viewed by anyone, especially in light of the fact that it is the Office of Personnel Management, and not the individual Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, which makes the determination of approval or denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

A “need to know” standard should be applied, of course, but such a standard is rather subjective and can be easily justified.  Whether the agency complies with any standard at all, of course, is questionable, and ultimately, no one will know but the eyes of those who see.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire