Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The problem perspective

Does “positive thinking” actually work?  Or, is it one of those pithy approaches to life, where the “throwaway” line is used to dismiss unpleasantries and negative influences that might otherwise disprove the obvious — that life is difficult enough without listening to the difficulties of others?  Then, there is the “problem perspective” — of seeing everything as a problem as opposed to a solution or opportunity, and to see the world as a glass half-empty in contradistinction to a half-full universe.

Objectively, of course, both descriptions reflect the same objective reality; the contention is that “how” we view the world (i.e., our subjective perspective upon the world around us) influences the manner in which we approach the objective world in deliberating, solving, resolving, tackling problems, embracing situations, etc.

The “problem perspective” describes a person who sees everything from the vantage point of a problem.  It is all well and good, of course, to speak about having a “positive” frame of mind when things are going well; it is when actual, objective problems and difficulties arise in one’s life, that the “real test” of whether “positive thinking” works comes into question.

Objectively, of course, one could argue that, whether one possesses a “positive” mindset, a “negative” perspective, or a somewhat neutral approach, the outside world (that “noumenal” universe that Kant referred to) cares not a twit about what we “think” (i.e., the phenomenal universe that Kant distinguished — the one that we actually have access to) about it — for, it still exists whether we have a positive, negative or neutral perspective, anyway.

It is when the objective world impinges upon the subjective perspective with an undeniable negation of the positive — as in, a medical condition that debilitates and makes for a painful existence, whether physically or cognitively — that the test of whether a “positive” outlook works, or whether a “negative” perspective makes a difference, tests our daily lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the approach one takes may indeed make a difference with a real distinction.  Yes, the end of one’s Federal or Postal career may be coming; and, yet, the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service may well move to terminate you based upon your growing inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job.

In the end, such a “problem perspective” is a very real one, and becomes a problem precisely because there is a combination of both the “objective” world (the medical condition itself) and the “subjective” one (what to do about it; the next steps to be taken; the decision to be made, etc.).

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not only be the best “next step” to take — it may be the “only” one in the sense that all other options are undesirable: to stay and suffer; to resign and walk away without doing anything; or to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In the end, all “problem perspectives” need a positive solution, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is the best and positive solution for a Federal or Postal employee needing to resolve the problem perspective where one’s medical condition no longer allows for the fulfillment of all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Employment: Mansions with many rooms

There is room enough, and the imagery posed by the concept presents the warmth of an open invitation, whether the guest is willing, able or otherwise unprepared for such unconditional hospitality.  Mansions often pose a stoic, cold and unwelcoming façade, and it is always the people who inhabit them and the guests who frequent such expansive and impersonal grounds that make the difference between icy relationships of uncaring attitudes steeped in jealousies engendered and encouraged by competition, envy and mistrust, or the comfort of caring families.

It need not be a steadfast rule that the larger the house, the less amiable the people; or, its corollary, the smaller the abode, the qualitative and proportionate substance involving mirth, laughter and joy.  It is, perhaps, the feeling that geometric expansion and distance between rooms correlates with a certain stoicism that encourages lack of closeness; whereas, if you have to double-up in bunks and share bathrooms, wait upon one another just to get by a narrow passageway, you are forced to tolerate the quixotic eccentricities and foibles of each other, and quick and easy forgiveness is not too far away when you have to live in close quarters where anger, holding grudges and carrying pockets full of resentments simply will not do, as such overloads of unnecessary burdens tend to weigh each other down into a pit of misery that cannot withstand a house full of people.

Once, a local pastor quipped, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  True enough, and one might add:  “And when gathered into close quarters, the ugliness shows through all the more.”  Perhaps it is that the heavenly mansion has many rooms, not because so many people are expected to arrive as permanent residents; rather, because angels and spiritual entities who have crossed the irreversible divide care neither for cramped spaces nor of expansive comfort, but live contentedly wherever they are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who work for a Federal agency or a Postal facility, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the mansion with many rooms is likened to the particular workplace that one spends so much time in.  Then, when you become the subject of gossip, the trigger point of harassment and the butt of whispered jokes because you have taken so much time off, filed for FMLA protection as well as grievances and EEO Complaints to try and ward off the constant adversarial actions directed against you, it may be time to consider a change of residences.

No, this is not to imply that you should consider the “spiritual” world; rather, to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as with the proverbial mansion with many rooms, it is not the place itself that makes much difference, but the people whom you are surrounded by, and when a medical condition begins to impact your ability to perform the essential elements of the job, it is perhaps time to seek another with many rooms, or a smaller house with friendlier occupants.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Reality of Accommodations

Medical conditions test the value of a worker; for, while people may engage in theoretical discussions of “cost-benefits analysis“, where the cost of X is compared and contrasted to the benefit of Y, such that the hypothetical analysis results in a business decision based upon pure economic need — the reality of such an approach rarely gets a true test beyond such dinner table discussions.  But when a Federal or Postal Worker begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition visibly impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then the economic paradigm of a cost-benefits analysis is applied, whether overtly or in a more subtle, inconspicuous manner.

The agency may recognize the need to allow for temporary suspension of certain positional duties — travel may be taken up by some other employee; heavy lifting may need an additional helper; telecommuting may be a viable option.  The cost of such temporary measures is felt in the work left undone; the benefit is accrued by the experience, wisdom, and knowledge of the disabled retained worker.  In rarer occasions, a formal request for an accommodation may be submitted by the Federal or Postal Worker, and an administrative process of attempting to provide a legally viable accommodation may ensue; but that is a rare process, indeed.

The reality of accommodations in the Federal sector is one of practical need versus the trouble such attempts bring; for the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, the true option left is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Such an option results from an agency being tested — and loyalties revealed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Medical Retirement: Reassignment Considerations

In considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the issue of possible reassignment will arise — normally as a rather secondary and unimportant facet of the process — as an obligatory agency action.

SF 3112D is a form which the agency must complete.  The form essentially affirms that the agency attempted either of 2 things:  tried to “accommodate” the Federal or Postal employee, or tried to find a suitable “reassignment” to another existing, available position.

As to the latter, case-law has made it clear that in order for an offer of reassignment to preclude the Federal or Postal employee from continuing with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, such light or limited duty offer must be at the same pay or grade of one’s current position (there are some complicating details connected with the enunciated standard, but for present purposes, this general rule will suffice).

Sometimes, the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will find a lower-paying position, and offer it, and the employee will gladly accept it because it allows for continued employment.  But one must understand that, if down the road, the Federal or Postal employee finds that he or she is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of that “lower” position, then it is from that “lower” (and often of lesser responsibilities) position that one will be filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

Just some thoughts to ponder; for, as a general rule, the greater the responsibilities of a position, the lesser the standard of meeting the threshold for a Federal Disability Retirement; and, conversely, the lesser the responsibilities of a position, the higher requirement to prove one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: OPM over OWCP

I still get many emails and phone calls about the onerous, “over-the-top” behavior, and the bullying tactics of OWCP/DOL temporary total disability payments & requirements — everything from constant, incessant and unending, harassing letters, to requiring further evaluations from second and third opinion doctors (or so-called doctors), to constantly requiring one’s treating doctor to justify the continuing disability status, thereby endangering the continuation of the doctor-patient relationship.  And who can criticize or blame the doctor for wanting to drop a patient for the amount of hours he/she has to put into, for “non-medical” issues, and for the time expended which the doctor will never be paid for? 

Yes, Worker’s Comp pays more.  Yes, it is non-taxable.  Yes, there are monetary reasons for staying on OWCP.  But the truth is, money doesn’t buy peace of mind or a life of lesser stress.  OWCP is meant to be a temporary means of providing income — it is not designed for the long term, and indeed, the Office of Worker’s Compensation makes that abundantly clear by their actions.  OPM Disability retirement under FERS or CSRS pays much less, but it allows for independence and a semblence of freedom, not even to mention a life of some dignity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire