Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Watchful Eyes

The falcon flies in our midst; with an unknown distance of its perimeter to prey, it suddenly appears, perched with watchful eyes for squirrels, rabbits, other birds, etc.  Its flight is silent and graceful, and long before people realize its presence, the silence and sudden muteness of wildlife activity reveals the fear imposed by its mere appearance.  It flies silently, swiftly, and with a grace which demands awe and respect.  From its high vantage point, the targeted prey below rarely stands a fair chance of avoidance.  Those eyes are focused, with a singular vision operating to corner, catch and consume.  Organisms under a microscope must feel a similar sense, if indeed they become aware of being studied and prodded.

People, too, who are being surveilled and inspected; there is often a sixth sense of being constantly and vigilantly watched.  Federal and Postal Workers who are under the onerous burden of a Performance Improvement Plan (the acronym of a “PIP”) have that same sense.  It is not a positive or productive feeling; it is, instead, a dread of knowing that the “watching” part is merely a prelude for further actions forthcoming, like the noiseless glide of the hawk above.

Being under the constant gaze of a predator often requires preventative action on the part of the prey; for Federal and Postal Workers who come to recognize that his or her job performance is deteriorating because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be the best option and course of action to take.  Because it is taking such a long time to get an approval these days, preparatory steps should be taken early.  Waiting for a separation from service, while still allowing for time thereafter to file, is normally not the wisest course.

As it is always better to be the “watcher” than the “watched”, so the Federal and Postal employee who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should take the affirmative steps to prepare for an eventuality — that time when, like the hawk who has made a decision to target its prey, the Federal or Postal Worker has a place of refuge to enter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

USPS and Federal Civil Service Disability Retirement: Human Beings and Railroad Tracks

The metaphor of trains and railroad tracks are numerous and infinite in their applicability and relevance:  train wrecks; inability to stop; actions which proceed with a directional course towards a cliff; predetermined path of existence; and many others, some which invite ontological and teleological issues concerning free will and the ability to have an omniscient vantage point.

For Federal and Postal employees who are suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition(s) impacts one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential functions of one’s job, the analogy to a train ride is quite accurate.  For, the course of one’s career is often one which is set at the very beginning — an upward trajectory with expected grade-promotions and regular step increases; a sense of working for an agency with a mission, a purpose, and (perhaps most importantly) a steady paycheck.  But a pre-set course has a disadvantage:  a track from which one cannot stray; yet, if continuing onward, a certainty for a collision, headlong into subpar performance evaluations, a PIP, disciplinary actions, and potential terminations.

A train wreck waiting to happen.

About the go over that proverbial cliff.  Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit available for all Federal and Postal workers, whether under FERS or CSRS, if you meet the minimum eligibility requirements.  Fortunately, humans are not trains; free will and the ability to change course in life is an innate potentiality of the human soul.  But free will, in order to have any effect, must be acted upon.  Mere thought is not the same as action; it is, ultimately, human action which leads to change.  Just some thoughts to ponder.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: A Sudden Awareness

One often muddles through life, so long as nothing extraordinary occurs.

A medical condition may begin to impact the Federal or Postal employee, perhaps in a peripheral, non-threatening manner, at first; then, over time, a series of events occurs; perhaps, like the domino effect we witness in a causal calamity of sequential occurrences, to wit:  the medical condition; a second condition, this time requiring a new medication regimen; side effects; further manifestations of symptoms; a new diagnosis; missing more work than usual; sidelong glances from supervisors and coworkers; and before one realizes the full import of what has happened, one suddenly becomes aware that no longer is one considered that “star employee” by the agency, but a malingerer, a problem-child, and one who is teated in a fashion as in the old remnants of leper colonies.

When such a time erupts, and at a moment of such awareness, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

While not offering the perfect solution, it does allow for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, a way out of an otherwise untenable position:  a time for recuperation; a level of financial security; a potential for engaging a second vocation and earning additional money above and beyond the disability annuity.  That sudden awareness is an indicator; in a similar manner to the revelation of symptoms, which is a signal of the body trying to warn a person of an impending medical crisis, so the awareness that one’s peers, coworkers and supervisors are viewing you in a different light is a triggering mechanism which should be heeded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Automatic Pilot

Then there is the story of the individual who was driving an RV, set the acceleration mechanism on “auto”, and left the driver’s seat to go and make some coffee.  Obviously, one need not have too great an imagination as to what happened next.

“Auto pilot” is a concept which one considers in the context of comfort and alleviation of human effort; by allowing for machines and artificial intelligence to dominate and take over, such technological advances allow for human beings to engage in other pursuits.  The problem with such a perspective, however, is that most people go through life on auto-pilot to begin with; and allowing for machines and smart-technology to engage in human action merely perpetuates further thoughtless action.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one will encounter many steps and stages of the phenomena identified as “auto-pilot” — both at the Agency level, as well as the case-worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Whether because of being overworked, or after years of mundane administrative tasks which dull the intellectual capacities of the human brain, it is often difficult to “jolt” the worker into focusing upon one’s particular Federal Disability Retirement application.  While one can argue that, “If you have seen one, you have seen them all”, it is important to acknowledge that one’s own Federal Disability Retirement application is unique precisely because each medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties is identifiably singular in relevance and importance, and as such, “shaking up” the sleeping giant of auto-pilot is crucial in getting a Medical Disability Retirement claim to successful completion and approval.

To do this, it is wise to make certain that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is well-formulated, streamlined, and presented in a coherent, comprehensible whole.  That way, if one encounters an auto-pilot, it will not end up like the driver of the RV and result in a vehicle driving over the proverbial cliff.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: After the Storm

Particularized geographical locations will have differing stories.  Rarely are two stories the same, and indeed, that can be the case even between neighbors who are twenty feet apart.  It is the uniqueness of each situation which defines the situation.  A storm can come — whether in terms of the “objective” world, or perhaps through psychological and emotional turmoil —  without but a passing notice to a friend, neighbor, or coworker.

For the Federal or Postal worker contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the “storm” which must be endured is the medical condition itself, and its impact upon one’s livelihood, one’s life, and future stability for one’s family.  It is a process which is independent of one’s geographical location.  It is a condition which, often, coworkers only suspect, and is unfortunately hidden and kept from supervisors and managers, for obvious reasons.

The physical storms which come and go will leave behind a trail of visible devastation; what agencies and supervisors do will often leave residual damage far greater than physical devastation can betray.  It is the storms of daily life which need attending to, as opposed to a one-time life-event.  If that “storm” of a medical condition has come to a flashpoint where one can no longer work at a Federal or Postal position, then it is time to begin preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Only the individual who suffers — silently, and in fear — can make that determination.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Pilot

It is actually a misnomer to connect the terms “automatic” and “pilot” , precisely because the former term completely and unilaterally undermines the latter.  Think about it:  the entire concept of the term “pilot” denotes and encompasses the ability of an individual to control the destiny, direction and distance of that which he is maneuvering; once it is turned over to an engineering phenomenon which performs the activity with data already inputted by others, such control is lost, and the fullness of what it means to pilot a vehicle becomes meaningless.

It is, ultimately, a question of who controls the destiny.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question is often one of being pulled and controlled by one’s circumstances, or becoming the pilot of one’s destiny and proceeding to dictate the terms and timing of one’s future.

Agencies by nature like to have control; whether it is in hiring, promoting, separating or engaging in adverse actions, agencies enjoy being the determining entity in all aspects of a Federal or Postal employee’s life.  One can wait for an agency to make a determination on one’s career or future; and, to that extent, they become the “automatic pilot” of one’s destiny.

It is up to the Federal or Postal employee to make a decision as to whether or not one should erase the former term, leaving one with the unmistakable role of being the pilot who determines one’s own destiny.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: During the Lengthy Process

During the “waiting time” of the lengthy process in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to begin the secondary process of preparing for the next “phase” of one’s life.  

Many Federal and Postal workers unfortunately view the waiting period — that period when one’s Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed, and is waiting for a determination by a Case worker at the Office of Personnel Management — as a time where everything is on “hold” because the lack of a determinative decision results in a paralysis of an ability to plan for the future.  However, submission to such paralysis would be a mistake, and a misuse of the most valuable resource which one has:  time.  For, ultimately, one must make future plans based upon an assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved.  

This assumption is based upon the factual underpinnings of the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself:  it was filed with the support of a doctor; the Federal or Postal worker is unable to continue in his or her job; the medical condition is expected to last a minimum of 12 months.  If all three of these basic criteria are met, then one must proceed with the assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will ultimately be approved.  

Based upon the foregoing, the time of waiting should be spent — not in anxious despair and despondency because of the wait — but rather, in preparing for the future.  To allow for those things which one has no control over to control one’s life would be a foolish endeavor.  OPM will ultimately make a decision, and whether at the First Stage of the Process, the Reconsideration Stage, or before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board, one should be preparing for the next phase of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire