OPM Disability Retirement: Confirmation of Worth

Recognizing the value of Federal employees with medical conditions

Diamonds demand it and markets survive by it; investments grow or shrink according to assessed worth, and relationships are maintained by the relative perspective of individuals entangled.  Worth, or the value of a thing, is determined in a capitalist society as a result of increase in demand, and scarcity of supply.

But what of the worth of an individual, as opposed to an inanimate object?  Do we treat it in the same manner?  Should it be?

When first the concept of “human capital” was introduced to the lexicon of capitalist verbiage, it was meant to convey the value of workers in a society consumed by material wealth; but over time, one could argue that the very introduction of such a concept on an equal footing with valuation of goods and services, only resulted in demeaning and dehumanizing the uniqueness of each individual.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, that very concept of the equality of value between one’s humanness and the worth of services provided, is all too real.

Suddenly, it becomes apparent and self-evident that the two are inextricably entangled:  One’s worth as a human being cannot be separated from the value of the work provided.  The compound concept of “human” and “capital” are inseparably linked, like siamese twins sharing a vital organ, never to be surgically extricated, forever compartmentalized into a conceptual embrace of blissful togetherness.  But that is precisely the time when the value of the individual should be recognized, apart from the worth of the services provided.

A medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, should be valued independently, until the medical condition can be resolved.  But as agencies fail to do this, so the Federal or Postal worker has an option to maintain his or her dignity throughout the process:  to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As value is a relative concept, so the confirmation of worth is relative to the capital investment which a society is willing to put up with; and the confirmation of the worth of an individual should always be paramount in viewing the pinnacle of human essence, as above the primates of an evolutionary yesteryear, and just below the angels gently strumming the harps on a morning when the breeze whistles a tune of hope.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Heidegger, Being, Essence and Value

Heidegger represents a culmination of sorts — of a philosopher caught in the historicity of his own time and making (with allegations of collaborating with the Nazi party), while proposing a methodology of modern philosophy which embraces the issues important to modernity — essence, value, and the meaning of one’s existence.

In this society of technological adaptation, where the separation of humanity from machines, and the chasm of isolation which expands exponentially, resulting in greater incidents of psychiatric desolation; it is important to pause and reflect upon the value of the human being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who has worked tirelessly to “advance the mission of the agency”, but who now finds him/herself with a medical condition which prevents him/her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job — how does the agency act/react?  Does it manifest compassion, empathy, and most importantly — loyalty?

In order for the conceptual paradigm of “loyalty” to have any meaning, it must be bilateral — meaning, inclusive in both directions.  But too often, loyalty is based merely on “what has he/she done for the agency today?”  The meaning of one’s existence is too closely tied to one’s work; the value of human worth is too easily discarded when one’s work is disrupted; and the truth of one’s being is too readily revealed when a medical condition intersects and interrupts one’s ability/inability to perform one’s job.

Heidegger, in the end, was probably right; the “things” we do are mere distractions to the ultimate fate of our being; but in the meantime, we must continue to strive, to live.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which exists in order to continue to live.  It allows for a Federal or Postal worker to continue in another vocation, and to have that rehabilitative period to focus upon the important things in life:  of health, of value, and of family relationships.  Don’t tie yourself too closely to some faceless agency’s “mission”; the first and primary mission is the worth of the individual human being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Service Disability Retirement: Agency Support

Sometimes, the question comes up as to whether or not it is important to have the blessing or support of the Agency or the USPS, when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. My answer to such a question is fairly uniform and redundant:  this is a medical disability retirement; it is unwise to proceed to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits on the assumption that your Supervisor or Agency will be supportive, for there is no guarantee as to what “supportive” means (they may have a completely different understanding or definition of the concept than you do — something which you probably learned over many years of working in the Federal Sector), and further, the primary focus from the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management, is upon the medical evidence presented and how the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of your job.  The Supervisor’s Statement should be minimized in importance and relevance, as much as possible, by ensuring that the rest of the disability retirement application is “excellent”.  By doing this, you neutralize any undue dependence upon an Agency’s alleged “support” of your application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Each Step is a New Review

There are only one of several ways in which a Federal disability retirement application under FERS or CSRS can be lost: Either a Judge at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals renders a final opinion denying a Federal or Postal Employee his or her disability retirement, or the Federal or Postal employee simply gives up.  As to the former:  Even then, if the Federal or Postal employee has not been separated from service for more than one (1) year, he or she may file a new application for disability retirement. 

Thus, we are left with the latter:  a disability retirement applicant simply gives up.  By “giving up” is meant:  the next step is not taken; the time-frame within which to file a Request for Reconsideration or an appeal is allowed to “lapse”; or, if an appeal is taken, it is done with resignation and surrender.  Nothing good can come out of such an approach.  Each step of the process in a Federal disability retirement case must be attacked aggressively.  Each step must be looked at as a potential place for a new review. Think about it in reverse:  If you don’t take the next step, then nothing good will certainly happen, so what is there to lose?  Indeed, there are times when a client hires me to file a Request for Reconsideration or an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the mere filing of my appearance into the case persuades and convinces the OPM representative to reverse course and grant the disability retirement application.  The point of making such a statement is not to “brag”, but to make the larger point:  good things can happen only if you affirmatively act.  Otherwise, you are left with what King Lear said to his daughter Cordelia, that “nothing can come from nothing”. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire