OPM Disability Retirement: The Crumbling Walls of Professional Conduct

The aged bemoan of modernity; youth view the present as merely fodder for change and future potential; and caught in between, somewhere in the netherworld of inertia, those inconsequential individuals relegated to the irrelevant category of “middle age”, who must stand by and witness the slow and progressive destruction of the past, the deterioration of cohesiveness of the future, and the present infirmity of impotence.

Medical conditions are funny animals; because they are personal in nature, the revelation of such private matters tends to scare people, because the emergence of such confidential conveyance violates the unspoken walls of professional distance; but for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service, it is often necessary to provide some component of one’s medical condition in order to ascertain and establish the extent of needed accommodations — for purposes of filing for FMLA, to take needed SL or LWOP, or to counter allegations of misconduct or violation of “leave policy”, etc.

Within the greater context of life, there is a sense there the walls of professional conduct which once protected privacy concerns and acceptable behaviors, are crumbling in modernity.  Anything and everything goes; there is no normative constraint, anymore, because the demarcation between private and professional have disappeared.

The same is true when applied to the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The entire bureaucratic process engenders privacy concerns because of the sensitive nature of the information which must be submitted.  But those are merely “side issues” which should be placed in their proper perspective; for, in the end, when the final wave of goodbye is motioned, and one has obtained an approval from OPM in order to exit with a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the crumbling walls of professional conduct as revealed by one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service will be but a far echo of past misdeeds, as one walks out into the future of a brighter tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Privacy Factor

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through one’s agency, en route to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under whichever various retirement systems (FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset), the inherent dangers of revelation, violation or dissemination, whether intended or otherwise, becomes a focused concern for every Federal or Postal employee engaging the administrative process.

The idea that a stranger may view one’s medical information is one thing — for, in that event, we have become used to the discomforting acceptance that strangers at a records copier service may inadvertently “view” such medical documents; or, that the necessity of the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must analyze and evaluate the medical information provided; and such instances are unavoidable and therefore marginally acceptable.

It is, rather, the viewing and dissemination of those whom we are familiar with, which tends to concern.  But to focus too obsessively upon such issues can distract and detract; the scent of vulnerability — a euphemism for people being nosey — is a natural result of bureaucracies, and Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service are rampant petri dishes for uncontrollable spread of viral prurient interests.  Fear of imaginative consequences can harmfully present an obstacle for progress.

Assume that the worst will happen, and when something less actually occurs, acceptance of such lesser results will be easier to embrace.  Medical conditions and information about one’s disability are indeed matters of privacy; but when a Federal or Postal employee voluntarily files for Disability with the Office of Personnel Management, the road from Point A to Destination B should be a straight line of focus, and not marred with distractions which ultimately have little consequential impact.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, 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

OPM Disability Retirement: Trust

Words have become increasingly malleable.  They can be reformed, restated, interpreted in multiple ways, and ultimately made to conform to what an individual desires it to mean.  Trust is based upon the mutual understanding of words.  As such, the breach of trust can come about quite rapidly, as the deterioration of such mutual understanding becomes apparent.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often an issue of “trust” between the Agency from which the Federal or Postal employee is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and the Federal or Postal employee him/her self.  The extent to which an agency is informed of the process; issues of confidentiality and whether privacy concerns are breached — all involve an issue of trust.

Unfortunately, trust is also an issue which, for whatever reason, is instilled as a desire in human beings.  Most people “want” to trust another individual, and because of this desire, it can be used as a predatory bait for those who may have motivations and reasons other than the best interests of the Federal or Postal employee.

Finally, what this author has always believed, is the following:  The test of sincerity is represented by past actions, not the mere speaking of words.  Yet, even actions do not constitute a complete source of reliability.  In the end, discretion calls for limited revelation of information.  An “only need-to-know, when necessary” rule should always be applied to confidential, private information.  And what can be more confidential and private, than one’s own medical condition in the preparation, formulation and filing of Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire