CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Sand Castles

Walking the beach in the winter months, one can imagine the activity of the previous summer; of the gaiety of childhood mirth; laughing squeals of delightfully unrehearsed cacophony mixed with the rolling sounds of surf and sun swept music of hollow reeds bending in the dunes of nature’s creation; and of sand castles constructed for a day, only to disappear in the silence of night as the tide comes, toppling the singular turret and washing over the parapet walk, never to be inhabited again but for a future summer to come.

It is those very sand castles which we build, and to which we cling, then refuse to allow nature to sweep away, thinking somehow that through sheer human will and dominance of stubbornness, we can betray and defy the fragile nature of our being.  Clinging to bygone feelings of security and warmth is a characteristic of human folly.  We do it to our own detriment.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a point of “letting go”.  Often, the time to do so has passed by; but so long as one is within the legal, statutory timeframe, it is never too late as a practical matter to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, a Federal Disability Retirement application is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For many Federal and Postal Workers, the recognition of making “that dreaded change” is a difficult decision to make; and like sand castles built for eternity in a child’s mind, the reality is that very few things in life last longer than the pull and tug of the tides of change which inevitably wash away the dreams we once held.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGil, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Paradoxical Soiling of Sacrament

Can a person enter a religious institution (i.e., a church, a synagogue, etc.) without an intent to worship, but merely as an onlooker, and yet assume the role of a congregant without soiling the sacrament of its grounds? Tourists do that all the time, and perhaps mere “visitors” who desire to “try out” a church or other institution.

Is there a paradox in taking pictures of old Roman grounds of sacred pasts? Do we somehow justify actions by assuming one role (e.g., as a tourist and not a member) without the intent of what is originally meant of the place we visit? Can a person lie to one’s self, or unintentionally deceive others merely be entering a place of worship, or does one declare the status properly by having a digital camera in tow?

Similarly, if a Federal or Postal Worker goes to work without declaring one’s medical condition, and is able to for many years mask and conceal the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is there anything wrong with such deception — except perhaps that one is doing grave harm by progressively and purposefully deteriorating one’s own body?

Federal and Postal Worker have a tendency to do that, and in today’s harsh and competitive work environment, holding onto one’s job at all costs appears to be the rule of thumb, until it becomes apparent to everyone around, and lastly to one’s self, that one cannot continue in the same vein, any longer.

In that event, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, becomes the only viable option left; assuming, of course, that one has a body, mind or soul left to enjoy in retirement. But that is always the paradox of soiling any sacrament — especially the sacrament of one’s own body.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Price of Good Intentions to Deceive

Can one possess good intentions to deceive?  Such a paradoxical claim would normally constitute what is commonly referred to as an oxymoron, as the concept of “good” would countermand the opposing construct of deception.  Thus, it is not the intention itself which makes for the conundrum, but rather the originating focus of the will to act.

For the Federal and Postal employee who masks one’s medical conditions, whether of a physical nature, a psychiatric condition, or concerning the medications which are prescribed and taken at the direction of one’s medical provider in order to alleviate the symptoms of the condition and perhaps as a palliative measure, the price which one pays for not immediately informing one’s agency may range from nothing, to unforeseen consequences far into the future.

Is it technically “deception” to engage in a negative — i.e., to not immediately inform?  Is there an affirmative duty to convey or otherwise divulge such private information, if the medical condition has not yet become so apparent as to openly manifest an impact upon one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job?

Conversely, does the supervisor and the agency perform a service of “good” if performance ratings continue to reflect superior or outstanding, when more recent work has clearly diminished in volume and/or quality, but because of past performance and an ongoing sense of loyalty, the supervisor wants to just “sign off” by regurgitating past evaluations and assigning a current date?

Ultimately, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, one must at some point divulge the medical condition, if not merely at the time of filing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application through the agency’s Human Resources Department.  The timing of such divulgence, however, can sometimes impact the reactionary impulses of an agency.  In the end, the Agency must complete SF 3112D in response to the applicant’s filing; and whether the agency was previously informed or not, an effort to see whether an appropriate accommodation can be made will become an integral part of the process.

From the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of timing — of the good or neutral intentions of the applicant — rarely comes into play.

As for any “deception” involved, the only one who would be harmed by any such intention would be the one who bravely attempts to continue working through the pain of the condition itself, and the harm which continues to progressively deteriorate the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to perform all of the essential elements of one’s position.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Cost of a Veil

Veils are meant to conceal, either in part or in full; and the color of such concealment is of significance to indicate the state of sacrament or ceremony.  Apart from religious significance and communicated traditions, however, most veils themselves are neither visible nor apparent, but rather silently form a conspiracy of covering up and setting aside, like backyard refuse and debris in the corner shed or behind the closed door of a garage.

Physical pain can be veiled; aside from an involuntary twitch or wince which might provoke the onlooker to make a query, or a sudden gait dysfunction which, no matter how hard one tries to correct, forces the stiffening of one’s limbs or spinal column.

Psychiatric conditions may be more difficult to conceal; from explosive emotional turmoils rendered by Bipolar Disorder, to the uncontrollable lethargy impacted by Major Depression; to the paralyzing effects of a panic attack or Generalized Anxiety Disorder; the human psyche is often the first to reveal itself as the gateway to a malignancy.

But beyond the human capacity to conceal and place a veil upon one’s life, what is the cost of such concealment?  It is the further downward spiral; and, perhaps one’s employing agency never notices the invisible veil, and grants superior performance reviews; but through it all, at the severe and irreparable cost to one’s health.

For the Federal and Postal employee who lives and works with the constant veil of fear in being exposed with a medical condition which prevents one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an option which should be seriously considered.  Whether you are under FERS or CSRS, the base annuity will allow the Federal and Postal employee to lift the veil and proceed forward with one’s future, perhaps into a second, alternative vocation.

And as a final note:  there is in most cultures a great significance in the human act of lifting one’s veil — to reveal that which is beneath, and to come out from behind the concealment.  It is often a sacramental act, and one which allows for revelatory exposure, out from under the darkness and into the full light.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Law & Life’s Pragmatic Reality

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, one of the ways to establish the nexus between one’s medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, is to show a “service deficiency”. But as most Federal and Postal employees systematically receive satisfactory or higher ratings of workplace appraisals, and are passed through without thought in order for managers and supervisors to avoid contentiousness and adversarial encounters with their employees, it is rare that anyone can show poor performance and tie such a service deficiency to one’s medical condition.

Does one need to go to the supervisor and point out the service deficiencies and ask that the supervisor rate him or her as sub-par?  No.

Does one have to grieve or contest a superior appraisal?  Again, the answer is, No.

The intersecting contradiction between law and life often manifests itself in such circular absurdities.  But how the law is read; the knowledge of a myopic understanding of the law without the greater context of the entirety of the evolution of case-law opinions and further expansive interpretation of the originating statute, can leave one to believe that the law makes no sense, and fails to reflect the pragmatic issues of reality.

Hint:  Most Federal and Postal employees do not have a service deficiency; but since Federal Disability Retirement rules, regulations and statutes require that one’s medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months, does that mean that one must show a devastation of one’s work ethic for a full year before you can even file?  No.

The conflict between law and the pragmatic reality of life is merely an apparent one; once the truth is unraveled, there really is no conflict at all, internal, apparent, or otherwise, and Medical Retirement applications submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, in fact reflects the reality of life quite well.  One needs to merely figure out and think away any such apparent self-contradiction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire