Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Respective Positions

The position of the applicant is a uniquely vulnerable one; for, as one who is requesting a benefit from a governmental entity, he or she is essentially powerless to act except in response to the agency’s determination on approving or denying a Federal Disability Retirement application.

There are certain “pressure points” which can be attempted, the efficacy of which is questionable but nevertheless engaged in:  repeated calls (although one may suspect that excessive inquiries may ultimately reflect in a detrimental way); attempted influences via backdoor channels; or perhaps a request for a Congressional inquiry through one’s representative; and other similar methods — some more effective than others.  But it is ultimately the respective positions of the applicant-versus-agency which defines the underlying sense of powerlessness-versus-power; for, in the end, the agency can make any determination it wants, with a basis of rationality or one which issues a complex and garbled statement of reasonings which may not possess any meaningful import as reflected in the law.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a powerful agency which is granted a special position and status — one which is responsible for the administration of retirement issues impacting upon all Federal and Postal employees.  Such a position is indeed one of heightened sensitivity and responsibility; and while the respective positions of the “little guy” (the Federal or Postal employee) as opposed to the “big guy” (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) comes down to nothing more than individual human beings, it is the status granted to the latter which makes all the difference, and those within the agency should take such a position with the utmost of seriousness and gravity.

Ultimately, most case workers at OPM are doing the best they can with the tools and manpower provided; from the viewpoint of the applicant waiting for his or her Federal Disability Retirement application to be determined, however, that sense of vulnerability — where one’s future is “on hold” until an action is initiated by OPM — is what makes the entire process a frustrating one.

In the end, there is nothing which can change the respective positions of the applicant-versus-agency, until an approval from OPM is granted, and the status of “applicant” is then transformed into one of “annuitant” — at which point, a new set of respective positions are imposed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Expectation of Ethical Behavior

Ethics requires the containment and delineation of certain parameters of behavior.  The single intervening cause which provides for an exception to such constraints of behavior — as a practical matter — is the accumulation of power.  Power serves as an aphrodisiac which propels one to override any knowledge or sense of what it means to “behave properly”.

Just observe the behavior of those who are considered part of the “glamour” set — movie stars, politicians, wealthy entrepreneurs, etc.:  the common thread is that, because one acquires and retains money and fame (and therefore power), one need not be constrained within the parameters of ethics.  Just as individuals may act in certain ways, so agencies and conglomerations of individuals will act in a macro-reflection of how singular persons will act.

Thus, when a Federal or Postal employee begins the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, wisdom should guide the Federal and Postal employee to expect his or her agency to act in ways contrary to ethical behavior — if not outright violating any rules of ethics, at a minimum, to act in a harassing and mean-spirited manner.

Power brings out the worst in individuals, and in agencies; and when the “weakling” shows his or her vulnerabilities, the claws and fangs manifest themselves in the most ferocious of manners.  Ethics is for the protection of weaklings, and for manipulation by the powerful.  That is why it is often a necessity to seek the counsel and guidance of an attorney to countermand the actions of those who deem themselves to be powerful — by leveling the playing field.  Now, as to the power of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management… that is a different story altogether.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Agency Discretion

During engagement in the administrative process known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — applying for the benefit from the Office of Personnel Management — there is the ongoing fear by the Federal or Postal employee of being “fired” from one’s job.  The consequences of such an action, of course, can be rather severe.  

Often, losing one’s health insurance coverage, even if temporarily, can have a devastating impact (although, if it is any consolation, once one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits are approved by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM will pay to the health insurance carrier all premiums due and owing from any backpay, and the health insurance coverage will be reactivated as if there was never any break in coverage).  Or, the income from working as much as possible, or from use of sick leave, annual leave, etc., that was relied upon, will suddenly stop upon termination by the Agency.

Unfortunately, the courts and the Merit Systems Protection Board have been given wide discretion in initiating termination of a Federal or Postal employee based upon the “efficiency” of the Federal Service.  Many Federal and Postal employees fight against such termination and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to fight against such termination.  

While comment on the effectiveness of such a legal battle will be withheld, it is the opinion of this writer that a more efficient use of one’s resources is expended upon “negotiating” with the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service in formulating a compromise to effectuate the dual goals of the parties involved:  For the individual Federal or Postal employee, obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management; for the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, to rid itself of the employee and secure an empty positional slot to be filled by someone else.  

As two interests coincide, it is better to persuade the Federal Agency that such dual interests run on parallel paths, instead of intersecting as a collision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire