The “Nuclear Option” after an Illness or Injury in the Federal or Postal Workplace

It is a parliamentary procedure justified by those who invoke it because the circumstances are of such dire contextual urgencies as to necessitate extreme measures.  Such urgency of action is often characterized in a vacuum — a declarative shrill of voices that such an option could not be helped because of the counteraction (or non-action) of the opponent.

Medical conditions have a true tendency to do just that.  Insidious in their inherent nature, they persistent despite every application of treatment modalities, leaving behind confounded minds who spent years and unaccounted energies and accumulated student debt in order to attain the medical knowledge to combat such conundrums of configured confusions.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the invocation of the nuclear option is often seen as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

Such a characterization is an acknowledgment that the option chosen is one of “extreme” measures, forced because of a lack of choice.  But that would be a misnomer.  For, the “extreme” measure taken would actually be the other options remaining: Stay with an agency and struggle each day while attempting to ignore the pain of progressive physical deterioration or the despondency of psychiatric turmoil, and continue to be subjected to the constant and persistent harassment by supervisors and coworkers; or resign, walk away, and have nothing to show for the years of invested sacrifices given to one’s Federal agency or Postal Service.

No — the “nuclear option” for a Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not the preparation and submission of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application; rather, such an option is best characterized by the other options remaining.  In the end, it is how one characterizes one life, which forms the true character of the individual.

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

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Need versus Necessity

Needs can be variegated, and can be satisfied partially, delayed for further fulfillment at a later time and event, or controlled by sheer will and self-discipline.  They can also depend upon the particular individual, circumstance and personality and/or character of an individual.  They can vary based upon the subjective perspectives of an individual.

Necessity, by contrast, implies an objective determination of a mandated requirement.  It is not to be questioned; it is unequivocally “needed”.  As a prerequisite for completion of a linear production line, a necessary cause, while perhaps insufficient in and of itself to satisfy the entirety of the sequence of events, is nevertheless a required X in order to even consider the completion to Y.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that the medical illness or injury impacts one’s performance, for a time — undetermined, perhaps, in the beginning of the process — Federal Disability Retirement benefits, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may merely be viewed as a need, and therefore one which may be delayed, considered, and perhaps looked upon merely as one option among others.

As the medical condition continues to progressively deteriorate, it is the seriousness of the nexus between the medical condition and one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, which ultimately begins to determine the need and transform it into a necessity.

Whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must make that time of determination — that personal choice — of when the transformation occurs; but because Federal Disability Retirement takes on average 8 – 10 months to obtain, from the start of the process to its conclusion, it is well not to wait for the transformation from “need” to “necessity”, to be further characterized as the third step in the evolution — one of critical crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: To File or Not to File

The famous Shakespearean refrain is from Hamlet’s soliloquy, and concerns the choices of one’s life, of comparative analysis of meaning, value and purpose; but ultimately it is a question of choices — akin to Camus’ evocative essay in The Myth of Sisyphus.  Choices are what confront us daily; and some, unless we opt to proactively pursue the right path, are lost forever.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has been separated from Federal Service, the angst of filing often prevents them from choosing.  But with a legal Statute of Limitations barring the Federal or Postal worker from filing after one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service, it is at a minimum important to file, than not to, in order to preserve the right to potential eligibility of benefits.

Not to file within the deadline bars the Federal and Postal employee from ever making an argument, ever seeing whether one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; by filing within the deadline of one (1) year, one can always likely supplement one’s case, make further arguments, reinforce one’s case after the deadline; but if one fails to file within the statutory deadline, then one is silenced forever.

The choice of Hamlet is indeed a stark one, and one which Camus reiterated as one of “why” in facing the existential reality of survival; for Federal and Postal workers who face a statutorily-imposed potential for being barred forever, a similar encounter with reality must be faced:  to file or not to file.  Only the former choice makes sense, while the latter option propels one into the great void of nothingness and nihilism — a state of non-existence which one should never choose.

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 and Postal Disability Retirement: The Initial, Reactive Response

When a denial is received at the first stage of a Federal Disability Retirement application process, the initial, reactive response is often one of two avenues, both of which are the wrong paths to venture down:  either a Federal or Postal employee immediately writes an angry, emotional response or he/she gives up and decides that the statements made, the reasons given, etc., in the denial letter from the Office of Personnel Management are too powerful and overwhelming to overcome.  

Both responsive avenues constitute the wrong approach; neither responsive approach reflects the true state of the case.  

While there may be cases where the applicant has failed to make even a minimal attempt at meeting the burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement application, such a case is one in which the undersigned attorney has never encountered.  For, there is a presumption (a truthful one, I believe) that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is never out of choice, but always out of necessity.  

Federal and Postal workers don’t file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without good cause.  In a denial letter from the Office of Personnel Management, the statements made and the claims of rational discourse as to the reasons for the denial, do not mean that they are true.  Just because OPM says so, doesn’t make it true. Careful thought, reflection, and thoughtfulness of strategy in responding to an OPM denial is what is needed.  Do not react — at least, not initially.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The "No Other Choice" Case

Then, of course, there are cases where an individual has “no other choice” than to file for disability retirement. Sometimes, it is a chance that is taken — the chance of paying an attorney. Yes, adverse removal actions can impact one’s chances of obtaining disability retirement benefits. A case study: A recent client was removed from a Federal Agency for criminal conduct (obviously, no names will be used, and the facts will be somewhat altered to protect the client’s confidentiality of information). The individual was nowhere near retirement age; but suffice it to say that he/she had been a loyal employee for 20 years. He/she had a medical condition — a psychiatric condition, which pre-dated the criminal conduct. He/she hired me to obtain disability retirement.

What choice did the person have? He/she really had “no other choice” other than to walk away with nothing, or take the chance of paying an attorney (in this case, me). I was blunt about the entire affair: Normally, I am able to get most of my clients approved at the first or second stage of the process, and I will normally ascribe a “success-rate” to a case; in this instance, the probable rate of success, in my opinion, was lower than my normal prediction. Nevertheless, he/she wanted to go forward with it. I contacted the doctors and guided them into writing a forthright medical report; today, the client is receiving his/her disability retirement annuity. Did the person “deserve it” despite the criminal conduct? Absolutely! His/her medical condition pre-dated the criminal conduct, and in fact was a major factor in the actuation of the criminal conduct itself. I am happy for the client, and from a professional standpoint, it is always satisfying to win a case where a client entrusted a case in which he/she had “no other choice” — but once the choice was made, to have made the right choice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire