Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Suspect

Newspaper stories are replete with articles involving scams, dishonesty and crimes of financial improprieties; that is not surprising, given the nature of what constitutes “newsworthiness”.  Fraudulent claims involving disability applications are trumpeted loudly to reveal the disintegration of a system requiring structural integrity.  Of course, no one makes the distinction that such claims of fraud almost always involves the “other” disability system, and not the option available to Federal and Postal employees through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Just as all politicians are lumped together, so the aggregation and broad-painted brushing of anyone receiving a “disability” annuity is to be expected.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a different animal from the “other” disability system, and with good cause:

First, Federal and Postal employees do not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits until and unless it becomes a necessary option to take.  The general public cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, they complain that Federal and Postal employees have it “easy” with their Federal or Postal jobs; on the other hand, they grumble that receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits is taken advantage of by unscrupulous Federal and Postal employees. But if the employment itself is so easy, why would the Federal or Postal Worker take a lesser income by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  The fact is that most Federal and Postal employees work hard, and well beyond their rate of compensation, in furthering the mission of their agency or department; and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the furthest thing from the mindset of a Federal or Postal employee.

Second, because of the reduction of income accorded by an approved Federal Disability Retirement, many Federal and Postal employees must go out and seek employment in the private sector.  Yes, they can continue to receive the disability annuity so long as they remain under 80% of what the former Federal or Postal position currently pays; and yes, the combination of both the annuity and the employment income can aggregately comprise more than what the former Federal or Postal position was paying; but that is the very attractiveness and intelligence of the incentivized system. It encourages the Federal and Postal Worker to remain productive, and to “pay back” into the system. In essence, it is a self-paying enterprise.

And, Third, because Federal Disability Retirement recognizes that the disability is tied to a particular kind of job, there is very little room for abuse within the system.  One is encouraged to remain productive, and such an incentive allows for the system to remain economically viable.

In these difficult economic times, people are often afraid of considering filing for “disability” benefits; but for Federal and Postal employees who have given their time, life and (often) health in the pursuance of an agency’s mission, being treated like a “suspect” in a broadly-painted indictment is not only unfair, but reprehensible.  The Federal and Postal Worker has nothing to be ashamed about, and the fact that the general public may harbor some hidden resentments during these trying economic times, is merely a reflection upon the often petty nature of humanity, and not a true gauge of the work ethic of Federal and Postal employees throughout the country.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

USPS Postal and Federal Gov. Disability Retirement: That False Sense of Loyalty

Longevity often masks itself for loyalty; yet, when an organization is so large and impersonal such that each cog in the wheel merely represents an irrelevant fraction of the larger entity, then the relative importance of the individual becomes correspondingly diminished in relation to the greater whole.

Loyalty has always implied the concept of bilateralism; but within an organization which has become a virtual Leviathan, it becomes an unilateral concept.  For Federal and Postal employees, length of service and commitment to the agency’s “mission” will often engender a strong sense of loyalty.  But such loyalty is misplaced if it is paid with the price of one’s medical health, whether physical, emotional, or psychological.

One of the greatest obstacles which forestalls a Federal or Postal employee from filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a sense of shame and misguided loyalty to one’s agency.  Somehow, the Federal or Postal employee thinks that he or she is “letting the agency down” by filing for Federal Disability Retirement and separating from Federal Service.  But such a sense of loyalty is misplaced, misguided, and at best a self-immolation of purposes.

Look to see how the agency treats you in actions, not in terms of how you perceive how the world should be.  While honor is a virtue to be applauded, failure to preserve one’s health is a folly which cannot be afforded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Shrines of Our Own Making

For some inexplicable reason, we construct shrines which are deemed sacred, without ever evaluating whether or not the sanctity of the structure deserves our unwavering devotion and commitment.  Shame, embarrassment and the cognitive infrastructure of self-worth often remain the singular obstacles in preventing the Federal or Postal employee from filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

It is the mental constructs of our own making — the shrines of sacred sanctimony — which obstruct the linear progression from a life of constant turmoil to one of relative peace.  And so we are admonished that having a medical condition is somehow shameful; that taking off too much time from work to attend to one’s health somehow devalues the inherent worth of a person.  And we come to believe such folly despite the source of such value-driven thoughts, and make shrines and sacred temples of societal determinations despite the harm to one’s existence.

Life without health is less than a full existence; the self-harm and self-immolation one engages in by continuing on a course of destructive behavior, in ignoring the deterioration of one’s health, is in itself a form of sacrilege; the deconstruction of those very temples we find ourselves trapped within, is often the first step towards recovering one’s health.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which all Federal and Postal employees who are suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — should be looked into.  But the first step in the entire process is to revisit the shrines of our own making, and to determine which sacred cow is blocking the entranceway to a life of fulfillment, as opposed to mere existence of being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Misplaced Guilt & Apologetic Defeatism

There is, of course, such an animal as ‘misplaced guilt‘; it is in consequence of attributing to the wrong object of remorse a sense of honor or fidelity; and the resulting behavior of such inappropriate placement is often actions of an apologetic nature, self-defeating attitude, or an admixture of both.  Such a chemistry of discord can have subtle, unintended (or was it subconsciously intended?) and negative results for the Federal Employee or U.S. Postal Worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

In life, it is often the simple and direct approach which prevails; those who are unaware of their surroundings and forge ahead without sensitivity to others, often accomplish much; and while unfortunate, it is those very people who act with empathetic restraint and in consideration for others, who often get left behind.  And so it is with filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM —  that the person who hesitates and apologetically formulates one’s Statement of Disability (as responsive to Standard Form 3112A), will subconsciously desire a denial.

Statements of disability made with hesitancy; with a sense of apology or remorse; of guilt for even applying for the benefit; all such mind-sets manifest themselves in the narrative of one’s disability.  Yet, it is a misplaced guilt.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the Federal employee’s compensation package, and it is there precisely to allow for the Federal or Postal employee to recuperate, acquire a certain standard of financial security, and perhaps provide an opportunity for a second chance at another productive vocation.  There is no room for misplaced guilt, and certainly no place for an apologetic defeatism in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in a flash, they will jump upon such an approach and take advantage of such misplaced vulnerabilities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: When It Is the Right Time

Most people know; and still others, know that the “right” time has already passed, and is long overdue.  Doctors have already shaken their heads in disbelief, disgust or with regretful expressions of facial futility; family members have begun to whisper behind backs; friends have stopped asking to include you for events which may require physical exertion or extensive conversations which require focus, concentration or cognitive stamina.

Federal and Postal employees all across the United States, and overseas where Civilian workers are stationed, put in long and dedicated hours to accomplish the mission of agencies.  The general public at large has been allowed to critically eye the Federal or Postal worker because they are being paid through high taxes, etc.  But Federal Disability Retirement is not a “handout”; it is merely an employment benefit which allows for disabled workers to go out and remain productive in the private sector, by being allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays — and thereby continue to pay back into the system through paying of taxes, and essentially keeping it a “self-paying” system.  

No amount of shame or embarrassment should accompany the decision to file for Federal Disability benefits.  It is simply an acknowledgement which has already been realized by friends, family, and often one’s own treating doctor:  the right time has come because you have already “fought the good fight“, and it is time to move on to the next phase of life, and allow for the recuperative period of life take its course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire