Actions and Principles of Federal Agencies toward Their Employees with Disabilities before FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement

Can a person possess a core principle which declares that one should not be cruel to animals, but yet intimidate and harass a coworker?  Is it possible that one can state adherence to a philosophy, but act in ways contrary to such a declaration of fidelity to such a public policy?  Does authenticity and correlation between words and actions matter?

Of course, the simple answer is that hypocrisy has always been rampant throughout history, and one need only look at politics to come to the conclusion that speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth (as the proverbial adage is often conveyed) is a state of being that one can easily live with.  Thus the conundrum: Every and any question which begins with, “Is it possible that…” is one which has already been answered by the whims of history.

Public policy statements which declare that Federal agencies will seek every “reasonable” effort to accommodate an individual’s disability, are replete but often empty, precisely because words are open to interpretation.  And perhaps that is the “out” which many find easily excusable, in justifying the dissonance between words and actions.

Fortunately, for Federal and Postal employees, there is always the viable option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS. It is the “safety hatch” which can be used against agencies and the U.S. Postal Service in order to circumvent that self-contradicting public policy statement that medical conditions which impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, will be “accommodated” to the extent that such accommodation is “reasonable”.

Since that which is reasonable is open to interpretation, the reality of retaining a Federal or Postal Worker 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, becomes as rare as that individual who speaks and acts in consistent harmony of fidelity to both.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, where the impact is felt directly in the workplace, and where the supervisor who kicks his dog in the privacy of his home but volunteers his time with the local SPCA begins to speak earnestly about the “mission of the agency“, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in the end, principles and actions matter when it touches upon one’s personal health, and the need for restorative relief from a workplace which defies consistency of either.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: A Choice of One

A choice of one is not a choice at all, except in comparative contrast to the state of affairs one is left with. In life, however, that is often the only viable option offered: Either to remain in an unchanged state of being, or to adopt another set of circumstances which may offer only a limited attraction of availability.

But in choosing the alternative option in comparison to one’s present state of affairs, the evaluative process should not be frozen in present-time analysis; rather, if the given option allows for greater future promise and flexibility, as opposed to the current situation which may retain little to no hope for the future, then the qualitative attractiveness of the “other” may be of exponentially greater value.

One must always take care that one is comparing the valuation of items within a set of choices in terms of qualitative comparability; thus, the old adage and admonition of “comparing apples to apples, and not to oranges”, applies both in terms of substance, as well as future potentialities.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the “choice of one” is often what one must confront. For, not filing for Federal Disability Retirement will ultimately lead to separation and administrative termination. Or, one may simply resign from one’s Federal or Postal job, and walk away with nothing. Neither of the two previously-stated “options” are viable or rationally sound ones.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the “choice of one”. But it can still be considered a viable and fruitful choice, precisely because it accords a relative state of stability for one’s financial future, and further, it allows for the Federal and Postal employee to seek other employment in the private sector, and make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, and still retain the Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Not all options offered are equal. An ice-cream stand which offers only one flavor makes a limited presentation of attraction; but if the inner core of the singular flavor contains a mystery of hidden bursts of multiple sensory explosions which enhance the salivary delights of the customer, then you suddenly have a greater choice than merely a choice of one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Asymmetrical Lives

Asymmetrical systems are an important principle which dominates organisms and prevails in the world around us.  Symmetry involves balance and parallelism; a defiance through a counter-symmetrical eruption is normally an anomaly and deviation — a mutation in organic evolution which often results in extinction precisely because it is unnatural.

Humans live according to symmetrical principles.  Symmetry can involve a linear conceptual perspective; of a balance where childhood and youth is represented by X; young adulthood by Y; middle age with Z; and old age in retirement and calm.  But such a perception of linear quietude defies and ignores the realities of life’s disruptions.  Unexpected calamities, such as a car swerving into one’s path on any given day; being fired from a job because of an unforeseen reorganization at the management level; being inflicted with a medical condition such that the medical condition impact’s one’s ability to perform one’s chosen vocation; these are events which violate and infringe upon the linear symmetry we expect in our lives.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suddenly finds that a medical condition is no longer allowing him or her to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the asymmetrical condition is in contrast to others who are healthy, as well as to the expected path of one’s own career.  But in the artificial civilization of man’s own environment, symmetry and its opposite are what we make of it.  Since we are the masters of our own destinies, lack of symmetry does not necessitate extinction of an element of mutation.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee, filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a viable option precisely because it is an administrative process which was created in order to allow for the potential eventuality that some workers may become disabled from being able to fully perform one’s job.

Federal Disability Retirement is a concept which works within the system of asymmetrical principles; taking full advantage of it is precisely the reason why it was formulated in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Flashpoint

The flashpoint is the temperature at which an organic compound becomes combustible; during the entire time building up to that point, the rising temperature in combination with the chemical reactiveness of the substance was all the while sitting in preparation for the point of ignition; were there options to pursue prior to the point of ignition?  If there had been a change in chemical make-up, then perhaps the point of temperature-to-combination of substance would have altered, where either a higher or lower flashpoint would occur; or, the rise of the temperature, and the rate of acceleration, could have been changed.

Whatever the needed changes in order to avoid the flashpoint, however, one thing is clear:  the options are limited, and any altered states would merely delay the ultimate event of a flashpoint occurrence.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the flashpoint of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an inevitability which leaves the Federal or Postal employee similarly limited options.

One can continue in the mode of life which one finds one’s self in: of the daily treadmill of suffering through the workday with pain, profound fatigue and progressively debilitated emotional turmoil.  Or, one can wait for the Agency to initiate an adverse action, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), periodic suspensions or reprimands — or removal.  Or, one can begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Limited options do not necessarily constitute a flashpoint of negative consequences; yes, a fire bursting in a home is a tragedy, but then there are controlled fires and even naturally occurring ones in fields of decay which benefit the environment.

It is thus ultimately up to the Federal or Postal employee to determine the point of combustibility, and therefore the timing of the event identified as the flashpoint.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Choices Left

Options presented imply the availability of alternative picks; but such choices are real ones only if they don’t magically disappear when asserting one over another.

By analogy, Agencies in a Federal Disability Retirement case may claim that all sorts of accommodations have been attempted and provided; but if an ergonomic chair has been given to an administrative worker who suffers from psychiatric conditions which impact one’s focus, concentration, and cognitive capacities, the irreconcilable lack of correspondence between the attempted aid and the medical condition suffered, amounts to an ineffective attempt at accommodations at best, and at worst, a cruel joke.

But as Agencies enjoy patting themselves on the proverbial back, so statistically they can claim that 99.9% of their employees have been accommodated; it just so happens that either the Federal or Postal employees failed to take advantage of such empathetic attempts by the agency, or were not able to appreciate the full extent of such angelic endeavors.

Many medical conditions, of course, are unresponsive to any such attempts of accommodations, precisely because of the very nature, extent and severity of the conditions themselves.  This leaves one with the only choice left:  to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why the benefit was enacted; as such, there should be no reason why agencies should attempt to subvert or otherwise place obstacles in the quest for a goal which was intended to accommodate such non-accommodatable circumstances.  But then, the test of sincerity is not mere words, which can come cheaply, but through actions, which can result in a stark reality-check.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Recesses and Misguided Perspectives

Plato’s recognition of how perceptual fallacies occur became an incentive for his philosophical quest to unravel the essence of a thing, in contrast to the accidental qualities which may present themselves in their visual appearance. But misjudgments concerning what a thing “is” can occur not just because of visual disturbances; they can also result from subconscious misconceptions working in the far recesses of the mind, through isolation and fear.

Such an addition to the general philosophical inquiry would not progress until many centuries later, with the advent of Freud, Jung, psychology, and the recognition of the complexity of the human condition.  Indeed, the turmoil of human beings, especially in their interaction with relational issues, compounded in the workplace, the stresses of finance and the inability to make self-preserving decisions, often results from isolation and lack of proper guidance.  Guidance is part of the key to a release from worry, anxiety and effective decision-making.

For Federal or Postal employees who suffer from a compendium of complex medical conditions, including physical pain, psychiatric devastation from Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD; from profound exhaustion and fatigue; the medical condition itself may prevent one from tapping into the far recesses of one’s psyche in order to come to a proper decision on matters of great importance.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which allows for the Federal or Postal employee to reach a point of restorative quietude away from the requirements of employment burdens, in order to seek the medical help necessary.  It does not require a standard of “total disability”, but merely one of proving that the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It must be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and thus is not a determination made by one’s own agency.

Isolation, fear, and the dangers of misguided perspectives which arise from the dark recesses of one’s mind — they must be counteracted by having a clarity of purpose, direction, and goals which provide for a brighter tomorrow.  If the rise of psychology does not accomplish this, then what good does it portend?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement for Civilian Federal Employees: A Path to Consider

Of course, when a person begins his or her career with the Federal Government, the consideration of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit does not enter into the equation of accepting the position.  Most Federal and Postal workers would rather work and be healthy, than to resort to preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

Indeed, the problem with Federal and Postal workers is not that the option of Federal Disability Retirement is considered or taken; rather, the problem lies more in the fact that it is an option of last resort — which is probably how it should be, however necessary such an option must be for many Federal and Postal Workers.  But at some point in the linear continuum of a person’s career, where health and work collide and one must make a choice between the two, it is too often the case that the Federal or Postal worker has passed the point of “reasonableness” in preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

It is rare that it is ever “too late” to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (unless we are talking about missing the Statute of Limitations in filing); but most Federal and Postal workers, whether from a sense of duty, commitment, or sheer stubbornness, will work beyond the point of a well-reasoned and informed state of health or self-preservation. But however and whenever that point of finally choosing the path of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, comes about, one should prepare one’s case carefully; formulate the disability retirement application with care and foresight; and file it in a timely manner.  

When the time comes, and the path to a recuperative period of one’s life is finally considered, it should be done “right” — as much as one has invested in the effort of work itself throughout one’s career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Choosing from the Options

The self-evident approach to making a right choice is to first understand what one’s choices are comprised of; yet, for many, this necessary first step is never taken, and so the option taken is based upon the choices presented, and not upon the greater universe of alternatives available.  If the parent asks the child in an ice cream store, “Do you want chocolate or vanilla?”, the unsuspecting child will choose from the options presented — until the child observes the one standing in front, who has just received another flavor.  “How about that one?” is the natural next query.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is a universe of options which present themselves in concentric circles of choices within options within alternatives — but in order to make any positive steps towards accepting any of them, one must first be aware of them.

Thus, whether the agency moves forward to remove a Federal or Postal employee based upon reason X, may not be the only option if you don’t know that there may be an alternative option for removal, or to negotiate a delay of the option itself; whether OWCP/FECA, or Federal Disability Retirement, SSDI or VA benefits, or a combination of some or all to be approved; whether the basis should be medical condition A, B & C, or E, F & G, or a combination of some of each category; all such options need to be reviewed and the universe of alternatives explored, until the crucial decision is made of picking one over another.

Wisdom first begins with exploring the explorable universe; if one believes that one’s crib is the only universe in existence, then that will be the one which defines the confinement of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Different Pockets

There is often a confusion over different pockets and their intersecting relations — of SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance with the Social Security Administration); OWCP administered under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (OWCP/FECA); Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, as approved or denied by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and, in addition, there are those who are eligible for VA Disability benefits, for a Scheduled Award from OWCP, and complications which can occur with private disability insurance policies.

The general rule with respect to each can be summarized as follows:  Offset between FERS & SSDI (100% the first year, 60% every year thereafter); one can get approved concurrently for OWCP/FECA, but the Federal or Postal employee must choose to receive from one or the other, and not both; the Federal or Postal employee can receive a scheduled award while at the same time receiving a FERS Disability Retirement annuity, because a Scheduled Award is considered compensation for a rated injury, as opposed to continuation of one’s pay; there is no offset between FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement benefits and VA Disability benefits; private disability policies depend upon the contractual language of the policy itself, and must be reviewed individually as to any provisions of offset or dollar-for-dollar reduction of benefits based upon receipt of any other benefit.

These are the general criteria concerning the intersecting impact of each upon the other.  In the end, reaching into different pockets will normally result in an increase, and rarely (if ever) a decrease of benefits, even with offsets.  However, overreaching, as the case may be, can result in unintended consequences of overpayment and required repayment.  Be aware and informed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Clarification of Options

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often necessary to perform a methodological analysis similar to a “risk-benefits” evaluation before proceeding down the path in attempting to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The risks versus benefits analysis should already have been performed:  the necessity of filing because of one’s medical conditions should have answered any such issues arising from such a concern.  The “other” analytical approach, however, often revolves around the ever-prevalent and uniquely human ability to endlessly ruminate:  the “What if” syndrome.  What if I don’t get the disability retirement?  What if my agency terminates me before I get approved?  What if…

Such questions, while important to consider, should be first preceded by the overarching “what-if” question of all, which generally answers all subsequent similar questions:  “What if I don’t file?”  Presumably, one comes to a point in deciding to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition which has progressively or suddenly come to a point where it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Given that, the options to be clarified are quite simple:  If one does not file, then one will either have to continue working in the same or similar capacity; or one can resign and walk away, perhaps with a deferred retirement at age 65.  Are any of those options truly viable?  Ergo, many — if not all — of the other “what if” questions resolve themselves by first clarifying the penultimate what-if question.

Sequential clarification of one’s options is an important step in the reflective process of decision-making; take the time to consider the options; clarify the options; then, when the decision to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefitsbecomes a matter of necessity, move forward with the view that one will be approved precisely because the facts prove the case, without engaging in the self-defeating, very-human endeavor of self-doubt and questioning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire