Federal Disability Retirement: Vows and Contracts

People take vows for various reasons: vows of silence, as a satisfaction of a prerequisite for initiation into a religious order; vows of marriage, for the union intended for a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice; vows of revenge, for a personal vendetta in retribution for actions suffered against one’s self or on behalf of another; and similar vows of unremitting focus until the satisfaction of such enduring commitment is accomplished.  Similarly, contracts are entered into each day, across the globe, between individuals, corporate entities and groups formed specifically for business and personal reasons.

Is there a difference between a “vow” and a “contract“?  On a superficial level, the former is viewed as a “higher order” semblance of the latter.  In a deeper sense, that is not only true, but all the more so — or, in erudite form, a fortiori.  For, to vow is to give of one’s self in totality of being; it is a gift of one’s self, often without any expectation of a similar receiving.

In contract law, of course, it is precisely the comparative analysis of a “consideration” provided and received, which determines the viability and sustainability of the agreement itself.  Far too often, Federal and Postal employees see their commitment to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service as a “vow” in employment, as opposed to a contract freely entered into, and just as freely abrogated when the need arises. This is seen when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition and must consider the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

The Federal or Postal employee treats the job as one of a “vow”, as if the significance of clinging on to the position is of greater importance than the detriment manifested to one’s health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, is merely a contractual annuity accorded based upon the status of the individual as a Federal or Postal employee, and further proven by a preponderance of the evidence.  No vows have been exchanged — neither of the silent type, implicit, nor explicit, and certainly not of an unequivocal or unremitting nature.

Contractual terms are meant to be asserted; and one of the provisions of the “contract” for all Federal and Postal employees, is that when the Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, then eligibility for Federal Disability benefits may be invoked.

To accept a contractual provision is never to take advantage of anything, unfairly or otherwise; rather, it is merely a satisfaction of terms. To do otherwise, and to confuse X as Y, as in mistaking a contract for a vow, is merely to bathe in a puddle of muddle-headed thinking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Expectations

Expectations are peculiar anticipatory states of being; based upon an accurate assessment of factual considerations, they can comport with a true sense of reality; dependent upon an unrealistic foundation of pure desire and want, it can lead to a devastating loss of trust.  In order to avoid unrealistic expectations, it is necessary to evaluate and assess, as much as possible, facts from past experience, objective present circumstances, and projection of fairly accurate intuitions for the future.

For Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a realistic expectation as to all aspects and corridors of the benefit itself is necessary in order to survive the entirety of the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal.

From evaluating the strength of one’s medical support, to the ability to convey a persuasive argument and case to an agency which reviews tens of thousands of Federal Disability Retirement cases; from a realistic timeframe of the entire process from start to finish; to financial considerations and future earnings potential and whether one can work in another job or vocation.  All such considerations should be evaluated and discussed.

In the end, however, the Federal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits often is confronted with limited choices: to continue working under the same conditions, that is, doing with the same tasks in the same Federal occupation (normally not an option, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is considered in the first place); to walk away without filing for disability retirement benefits (almost never an option — self-evidently so); or filing for disability retirement benefits (the necessary option, and why it is being considered in the first place).

It is the expectations which often dismay, however, and it is a good idea to keep that animal in a cage of realistic assessments.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Expectation of a Rational Basis

Giving a “reason” is the basis of rationality.  In some sense, such a statement is merely a tautology, a redundancy in propositional logic (as pointed out by Wittgenstein), or what Kant had termed as an analytic a priori statement, where the subject (“reason”) is essentially identical to the object (“rationality”) in definitional terms.  But it is precisely the providing of a reason which forms the proper basis for proceeding in a rational manner.

Thus, if a X states that it will rain today, the follow-up query might be:  “Why do you believe that?”  If X answers, “Because I say so,” such a “reason” would not be an acceptable basis to act upon, precisely because it is neither a valid reason nor a basis of rationality.  Contrast that to the following:  “Because the national weather service, after an extensive study of the weather patterns for the past two weeks, has concluded that there is a 97% chance of rain today.”  Now, one may argue that predictions concerning the weather are notoriously unreliable to begin with; but nevertheless, the latter forms a basis for proceeding in a rational manner, while the former gives us no such foundation.

Similarly, in all sectors of one’s life, one has an expectation of giving and receiving “reasons” for which to act upon.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, we are expected to provide reasons for why a Federal or Postal employee is “eligible” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Conversely, it is a “reasonable” expectation to receive a “reason” when a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at any stage of the process.  Templates used by OPM will often only present the most superficial of reasons; and some reasonings as proposed by OPM may be self-contradictory.

In the end, whatever the reasons given, the Federal or Postal disability retirement applicant must respond with reasons why OPM is wrong, or provide a rational basis for a difference of opinions.  But that is another matter for a different blog altogether — the very issue of “opinions” and what should be the foundation of a valid one.  For, after all, we each of us possess them, and a scant few make much of a difference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Tying Together the Loose Strands

When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, and prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management begins.  

One may conceptually distinguish between a “formal” beginning of the process, as opposed to an informal or “real-time” beginning; but in any event, from a retrospective vantage point, it is clear that the “beginning” occurred at that point when the coalescence of medical-to-job impact manifested itself and it became obvious that the Federal or Postal employee could no longer continue in the same fashion as before.  

During this initial part of the process, when the Federal or Postal employee is simply struggling to survive — by going to medical appointments; attempting to continue to work; trying to ignore the reality of the medical condition by striving to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job as before; attempting to maintain the same balance of work-to-personal life, etc. — there is rarely a coordination of efforts, and the disparate strands of life’s compartments never come together in any comprehensible manner.  

But at the “formal” point of preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to engage in the “tying” together of the disparate strands of life — if only to package a cogent and coherent presentation of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

Life may be a series of messes; a successful Federal Disability Retirement application, however, should be a serious compilation of proof, evidence, argumentation and logical structure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Time, Expectation & Patience

Time is the basis and essence of frustration.  Often, in becoming involved in the administrative process and procedure of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the “time factor” is the part which concerns the Federal or Postal employee most.  

During the initial stages of the process, where a certain level of activity is experienced — of requesting the medical documentation and narrative reports from the doctors; of formulating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A); of submitting the preliminary application through the Agency (or, if separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, to file it directly with the Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA); and then receiving a CSA Number from the Office of Personnel Management, then…the wait.  Activity is the fodder which satisfies time; frustration with time is the chasm between expectation and reality; where there is inactivity, waiting without a specified end in sight is what frustrates most individuals. With the Office of Personnel Management, the greatest difficulty is now in gauging that “end-point”, because OPM continually falls behind in their estimate of time for decision-making.  

The process is a frustrating one; inactivity without an end only exponentially magnifies such frustration.  Ultimately, however, there is no other choice but to wait; for the Office of Personnel Management is the singular arbiter of the decision-making process in Federal Disability Retirement claims.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire