Hostile Work Environment and the Centrality of the Medical Condition in a Government Employee Retirement Claim

Pithy quotes are replete throughout advisory or “self-help” books; it is a cottage industry involving coming up with linguistically sticky statements, like post-its tacked on to our sleeves in order to remind us of daily living tools to carry.  “Keeping the main thing the main thing” is one such quote, and numerous similar mutations, which remind us that prioritization of concepts, in any endeavor, is important to keep in mind, and to not allow for peripheral concerns to overwhelm and dominate.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers intending on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the centrality of the medical condition should always be paramount, penultimate, and properly placed atop the prioritized priority list of planned penmanship (such early morning alliteration is indeed a challenge).

This is normally not a concern; for, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, suffers from a medical condition, which is the primary basis for which such a life changing event must be engaged.  But in the course of encountering the adversarial administrative process — of the agency, the supervisor, coworkers, the H.R. Department, and in the end, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — it is easy to become sidetracked with issues of a hostile work environment, of harassment, increasing disciplinary measures, suspensions, initiation of a PIP, etc., and to forget that the centrality of the medical condition should be the guiding principle and light which drives the engine of success or leads to the drone of failure.

Getting sidetracked with peripheral issues remains the singular and problematic course of careening causal catastrophes; it is, as stated at the outset, the centrality of the medical condition which needs to be placed at the forefront, the mid-section, and the conclusory compendium of all carefully calibrated cases in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Catch of the Day

Restaurants announce it; law enforcement offices declare it; con artists make a living by it; and agencies sneeringly pounce upon them. They are the designated focus for the day, often longer, and sometimes until they disappear from the depths of abundance which the season and migration of schools allow.

When one is a Federal or Postal Worker, becoming the “catch of the day” can mean that you are the targeted one; the one whom harassment and daily persecution becomes the norm and routine, and having such a reputation allows for the safe haven of others who exhale a loud sigh of relief for being spared such an ignoble designation. Once the target, agencies never let up. Whether it leads to a PIP, multiple suspensions, letters of reprimand, sick and annual leave restrictions on usage, doesn’t quite seem to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the persecutors.

Yes, there are some countermanding moves: EEO complaints; grievance procedures filed; even lawsuits and resulting awards of significant verdicts, on rare but victorious occasions. But the human toil expended rarely justifies such moments of rare glory; and for the individual who suffers from a medical condition, the juggernaut of the agency’s reserves and reservoir of implements and infinite resources of persecution means that a time of respite is merely temporary.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which one must consider when the coalescence of a medical condition, agency actions, and the recognition that one is unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, comes to a tripartite sequence of combined consonance.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has the opportunity to receive an annuity, and still go out and begin a new career in the private sector, and make up to 80 percent of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.  It is a consideration which should always remain a viable option, lest one’s picture remain with a bullseye depiction alongside the declaration that you are the agency’s “catch of the day”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Be a Squirrel, for a Day

Watching them is an exercise of fascination; with nimble flight, to jump from a rooftop to the tip of a branch 10 feet away; scurry up and down trees with little thought (or is that merely a human projection without justification?) and no hesitation between the daredevil act and the graceful landing; and then to sunbathe in the midday warmth on a protruding ledge of the fence.

What a carefree existence; or so it would seem.  For, upon an extended observation, one realizes that there is never a moment when the squirrel is unaware of its surroundings, and that the anxiety-filled existence of human beings is not too different from that of the animal kingdom from which we conceptually separate ourselves, but of which reality forces a recognition of kinship.

One wonders how the ordinary individual can survive the daily stresses of life; but in turning to an uncomplicated animal such as a squirrel, you quickly realize that we are created as a bundle of stress-resistance nerves.  For the squirrel, the probability of a predator ready to pounce requires a heightened spectrum of awareness that approaches constant vigilance.  For the individual human being, the technological, artificial, but nevertheless just-as-real “stressors” of stimuli which require minute-by-minute responses, are readily received by the evolutionary adaptation first developed in the dangers of wildlife.

Thus, it is little wonder that when a medical condition hits an individual, the quickened pace of deterioration and progressive chronicity of the condition turns to debilitating impact.  By then, the stress-overload has reached its maximum impact.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition such that one must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time between the onset of the medical condition and the need to file is often short.  This should not be surprising, given that the Federal and Postal employee has often ignored or otherwise overcompensated for the warning signs of impending consequences.

OPM Disability Retirement can take some time to obtain.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, every Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the waiting time tends to be arbitrary, but in each case, somewhat lengthy.  Given that, once the crisis point of “needing” to file has been identified, it is important to take the next giant step and initiate the process.

And, like the squirrel of whom we imagine is merely frolicking in the sun, the lack of outward appearance of a need is never the true indicator of what is going on underneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Local Lawyers and Federal Issues

Federal and Postal employees are particularly susceptible to harassment and hostile work environments, for two primary reasons:  First, agencies (as reflected in terms of organic microcosms of collective individuals forming an organized unit, but represented by individual men and women) tend to view themselves as little fiefdoms, circled and protected by a moat of Federal Laws rarely understood by laymen, and further empowered by secrecy and the pervasive presence of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, and Second, through a maze and web of complex Federal Statutes, Executive Orders and internal regulations, with layers upon layers of bureaucratic anomalies, an entity which remains shrouded with an obtuse, obscure administration of procedures barely comprehensible by those who run the agency.

The third reason, of course, is that despite Federal Agencies popping up throughout every city in every state, local lawyers have failed to make it their business to become knowledgeable about Federal issues, Federal laws, and their impact upon the local population.

This is especially true of Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Fortunately, however, Federal issues are not limited to the state, county or city in which a legal issue arises; therefore, as an attorney who practices OPM Disability Retirement, representation can occur from one state in assisting the Federal or Postal employee from any other state — including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Europe, Japan, etc.  Federal issues know no boundaries; that can be a negative thing in terms of state sovereignty; but in terms of being represented for a Federal Disability Retirement case, it has the advantage of being competently handled by those who know the system.

As deteriorating work environments often lead to an increase in medical issues, so the Federal or Postal employee must often fall back upon leaving the system by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Being susceptible to a power-centered entity often has that sort of result:  of greater medical problems; an exponential explosion of discontent; an increase in the need for rehabilitative care.

Fortunately for the Federal and Postal employee, there is the added employment benefit of Federal Disability Retirement.  Tap into that which exists for one’s advantage; the benefit is there for a reason — not the least of which is because of the stressful environment created by the behemoth called, the Federal Agency.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Agency Pressures

Ultimately, the pressures which one’s Federal Agency places upon the Federal or Postal employee creates and manufactures a perspective that events have an urgency beyond the reality of the moment.  There is, further, a context of a build-up which is often lost; agencies view employees who have not been fully productive, in terms of “liabilities”, and begin to act and react accordingly.

From the employee’s viewpoint, actions initiated by the agency are often unfair, instigated without warning, and advanced with irrational promptness without regard to the particular situation of the Federal or Postal employee.  This is because much of the context which leads up to a decision is often kept in secret from the employee — internal discussions concerning the employee, etc.

A Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often embroiled in the midst of an employment dilemma — whether the near-certain imposition of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), which is essentially setting up the employee for failure; or continuation of systematic workplace harassment; the pervasive nature of a hostile work environment; suspension or restriction of sick leave usage; and multiple other pressure points.

From the perspective of the agency, their stated goal is to further effectuate the “mission of the agency”.  From the perspective of the employee, it is nothing more than undue pressure and harassment, and leaving one with little or no choice but to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits quickly, and immediately. But of course the Office of Personnel Management does not act in a quick or immediate manner, and so there is the problem of dealing with agency issues until the time of a decision.

That is all the more reason why it is important for the Federal and Postal employee to not wait until the last minute, and to begin to contemplate preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, with some time still ahead, both for planning and for handling potential agency issues.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Proper Balance

The Office of Personnel Management has sent out a number of denials in recent weeks, and the undersigned attorney has had multiple opportunities to review many of the cases which have been submitted at the Initial Stage of the process, by Federal and Postal workers who are or were unrepresented by an attorney.  

The spectrum of the quality of the applications vary; some have obviously engaged in some research, and attempted to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application by following some guidelines which have been put forth.  But in most cases, there is still the problem of an “imbalance” — of not reaching the correct median between the subjective and the objective; of an inability to stay away from the workplace issues, of harassment, of complaints about the Agency, etc.  

Remember that this is first and foremost a medical disability retirement application, and the operative term which should always be focused upon and emphasized is the “medical” aspect of the formulation.  While there is ultimately no formulaic Federal Disability Retirement packet (precisely because the particular medical condition which is unique to each individual resists any such attempt to package a Federal Disability Retirement application in a generic sort of way), nevertheless, there are certain key points which should be addressed and emphasized, while other “non-key points” should be avoided.  

Put in a different way, in proving that a medical condition prevents a Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, one must include multiple “essential elements” in meeting the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire