Federal Disability Retirement: Those Moments of Enlightened Clarity

It occurs in momentary lapses of time, as if fate, the spirits and the ephemeral heavenly bodies are mocking us silently in childish teases of playful provocations.  They are brief segments of clarity, when all of the cylinders of life appear well-oiled, when the metaphorical pistons are firing simultaneously, and the fuel pump is injecting a sufficient amount of energy, and we feel on top of the world.

This is perhaps how man is supposed to live, is meant to exist, and is thought to represent the essence of his being.  But as Rousseau would quip, the ravages of society and civilization tends to weigh upon the natural state of man, and separate him from his true essence.

And so it often is with the daily fight with an agency.

It is interesting to study the entire history of the concept of “accommodations” in the field of disability law; for, what one finds is that entities, including Federal agencies, rarely attempt more than a show of appearance to accommodate an individual’s medical condition.  The unstoppable grind of a bureaucracy’s march forward will wear down the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.  Fighting through standard means of EEO actions, discrimination lawsuits, formal grievances and complaints may stay the progress for a time; but time itself is always on the side of the Leviathan known as the Federal agency.

Ultimately, the disadvantage is two-fold for the Federal and Postal employee suffering from a medical condition: the process itself, and the medical condition which continues to debilitate.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option which need not be considered the “nuclear” option, but rather an acknowledgment that agencies can rarely change itself to suit the individual, and instead, it is always the individual which must change to fit into the vast sea of an organizational morass.

As for those moments of clarity? They often come when an affirmative step forward is taken, as when the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that there is more to life than fighting against an entity which cares little for the human frailty of a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: That “Aha” Moment

There are moments when one comes to a realization of solving a problem, or perhaps of  breaking through an obstacle in the process of a creative endeavor; or even in making a simple decision — of overcoming the problem of how to systematically eliminate “other” options and alternatives in order to arrive at the most intelligent decision.  Some identify such moments as “aha” experiences; others, merely the result of systematic activity leading to a fruitful conclusion.

In coming to a decision to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, some will look upon the decision and the realization for the need to file, as a life-changing event, where one has finally overcome the mental obstacle that it is somehow a demeaning and diminishing decision to admit the manifestation and impacting consequences of a medical disability.  But one should always be aware of the fact that, in pragmatic terms, it is merely a decision that one must change vocations and attempt to become productive in some other capacity in life.

The hard work of life does not disappear merely because one has an “aha” moment; rather, it is the systematic living which occurs after such an experience, which will test the will and character of a human being.

Federal Disability Retirement is not an admission of defeat; it is not a filing for “total disability“; rather, it is merely an identification of the inconsistency between one’s medical condition and the particular kind of job which one finds one’s self in.  Far from a termination of a process, it is merely the beginning of the road to recovery and a venture into a different vocation and realm.

That realization — that it is merely a change of circumstances — is the true “aha’ moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: On the Other Hand

On the other hand, there is no such thing as a “lost cause” case.  To assert such a conclusion would be to presumptively admit defeat.  In Federal Disability Retirement cases, there is always a good chance of prevailing, whether or not a mistake was made; whether or not a doctor annotated, on a particular day in a moment of hope, that the patient showed “hopeful improvement”.  Yes, it is the job of the Office of Personnel Management to cling onto such peripheral statements, and to magnify such statements such that they appear to encompass the essence of the medical condition.

It is always with some amusement that I hear an agency Human Resources person state something to the effect of:  “Well, you know, Mr. McGill, this is not an adversarial process.  We and the Office of Personnel Management are merely here to determine the eligibility of the Federal worker, and to make sure that he or she fits the criteria.”

Not an adversarial process?  Is the Office of Personnel Management “there” to help you?  Is that why, in their template denial letters, they latch onto the most peripheral of issues and emphasize those points which allegedly present a problem, and ignore the rest of the medical evidence?  Any Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS would be wise to see the entire Federal Disability Retirement process as one of an “adversarial process”.  If you don’t, you proceed at your own peril.  On the other hand…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire