OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Need versus Necessity

Needs can be variegated, and can be satisfied partially, delayed for further fulfillment at a later time and event, or controlled by sheer will and self-discipline.  They can also depend upon the particular individual, circumstance and personality and/or character of an individual.  They can vary based upon the subjective perspectives of an individual.

Necessity, by contrast, implies an objective determination of a mandated requirement.  It is not to be questioned; it is unequivocally “needed”.  As a prerequisite for completion of a linear production line, a necessary cause, while perhaps insufficient in and of itself to satisfy the entirety of the sequence of events, is nevertheless a required X in order to even consider the completion to Y.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that the medical illness or injury impacts one’s performance, for a time — undetermined, perhaps, in the beginning of the process — Federal Disability Retirement benefits, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may merely be viewed as a need, and therefore one which may be delayed, considered, and perhaps looked upon merely as one option among others.

As the medical condition continues to progressively deteriorate, it is the seriousness of the nexus between the medical condition and one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, which ultimately begins to determine the need and transform it into a necessity.

Whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must make that time of determination — that personal choice — of when the transformation occurs; but because Federal Disability Retirement takes on average 8 – 10 months to obtain, from the start of the process to its conclusion, it is well not to wait for the transformation from “need” to “necessity”, to be further characterized as the third step in the evolution — one of critical crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Agency Stubbornness

The quality and characteristic of “stubbornness” encompasses a refusal to be persuaded by logic, reason, or any other similarly acceptable criteria of linguistic methodology normally employed in discourse, conversation or discussion on a matter.  Federal Agencies and the U.S. Postal Service are both equally notorious for retaining, maintaining and adhering to such a characteristic, and that is true in circumstances involving termination, medical disability, and agency actions governing administrative actions and sanctions, whether neutral or punitive.  

Often, because a Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition will need to begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a parallel set of circumstances begins to develop —  more absences; more need to file paperwork requesting leave, whether Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay; and the concurrent events which begin to coalesce involve the conflicting needs of the Federal or Postal employee and the requirements of the Agency to continue to meet and accomplish the goals of Federal Service.  

The result is often one of adversarial clashing:  a removal action by the Agency; potential loss of Health benefits (more often than not temporary, but nevertheless of concern) for the Federal or Postal employee; a rush to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; a sense of “emergency”; a stubbornness on the part of the Agency in its adherence to remove the Federal or Postal employee once its heels have been “dug in”.  

It is important to try and address such issues and attempt to head them off in as predictable a fashion as possible.  However, when such a clash between Agency interests and Federal or Postal employee needs come to an inevitable confrontation, it is important to at least establish a “paper trail” for future use.  Annotating the facts is an important tool to utilize — in shorthand, it is called “evidence“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire