FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: Sifting

Life requires sifting through a sieve; otherwise, the unwanted and undesirable particles of coarseness and garbage will become part and parcel of the component of one’s daily living.

Have you ever watched how the screen picks up, prevents and protects against intruding contaminants attempting to interlope?  How dust sticks to likeness and filth collects upon kindred spirits?  Are we talking about particles and contaminants — or of humans by analogy and metaphor?  Those descriptions which fit the picture frame of sifting screens can certainly apply to life’s encounter with fellow humans; how we change filters, when, and to what degree, applies to human interaction, as well.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement through one’s agency, and ultimately with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often a metaphorical sifting process which applies beyond changing the filter of one’s heating and cooling system.

It involves the prioritizing of important and significant issues; of whether work should prevail over health; of recognizing true friends and colleagues, of those who show loyalty beyond one’s contribution to the workforce and reveal an empathetic soul when needed; of securing future needs and differentiating between that which is necessary as opposed to sufficient; and in the end, of crystallizing human relationships, where the refractory nature of family, friendships and filial fondness may flower with a collage of hues and colors bending with the corridors of time.

Does all of that occur with merely filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  It is a difficult process, evolving through the origination of a medical condition, and it is often the time when triumph treasures the tragedy of origins, and where sifting of life’s undesirable particles begins.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Difficulty of Accommodation

For Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the issue of accommodation must be addressed at some point, and one often wonders why a Federal agency is either unwilling or unable to accommodate the medical disabilities of a Federal or Postal employee.  

The line between “unwilling” and “unable” is often a complex one, because Agencies must contend with an obligation to attempt to accommodate the medical disability, but remember that such an attempt and obligation is merely one of “reasonable” accommodation.  This means that an implicit cost-benefits analysis is quickly engaged in, where the effort, likely success, extent of any workplace adjustments, whether in the end the essential and core elements of the job functions can be accomplished even with the reasonable accommodations, etc., can successfully be implemented.

An appearance of attempting to accommodate is often all that is indulged, and so the reality is that the Agency seems more unwilling than unable. Further, the simple fact is that, many medical conditions — e.g., those which are psychiatric in nature, are simply medical conditions which are termed “non-accommodatable“.  For, regardless of what workplace adjustments are made, a Federal or Postal worker suffering from Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, delusory thought processes, etc., where symptoms upon one’s focus, concentration, ability to have a reasoned perspective, etc., are all impacted, and therefore is inconsistent with any cognitive-intensive work.  As such, the medical condition becomes “inconsistent” with the particular duties of the job, and therefore it is an unreasonable and unattainable goal to consider any accommodations.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire