OPM Disability Retirement: Concealment through Repetition

It is often through mindless repetition that concealment of truth can be accomplished, and with insidious efficiency.  For, repetition of tasks; redundancy of toil; convenience of engagement in life’s duties and obligations without thoughtful input; these can all be performed in monotonous automation without the participation of the one true essence of human uniqueness and identity:  the creativity of thought.

Life sometimes deadens the soul; or, more accurately, it is we who, as the gatekeeper of sensory impressions which bombard us daily, allow for the toxicity of life to invade and destroy.  Of all moral failings, however, one of the greatest is to allow for the mundane to conceal the truth.  That is often what the human toil of work allows; for, when a medical condition, whether physical or psychiatric, creeps in subtle hiding but progressively deteriorates and eats away at the body or soul, the desperate need to hide behind the mindless repetition of work allows for a semblance of mundane continuation of daily routine, and to trick the mind into thinking that all is well.

It is tantamount to the Maginot Line which the French had erected, consisting of fortifications, armaments and weapons’ placement in anticipation of an outdated strategy of waging war:  it provided a semblance of security, and allowed people to mindlessly live life.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the refuge behind work; the responses to agency actions of retaliation; the prolonging and procrastinating of the one true essence of necessity — of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits in order to attend to one’s health — allows for the repetition of monotony to conceal the singularity of focus which is required to move forward.

Filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is not the “be all or end all” of solutions; but it unravels a truism which prevents inertia of creativity, by allowing one to secure an annuity for the future, and to go back to the foundation of human essence: health, creativity, and the discarding of the repetition of the mundane.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Accommodations and the Elegance of the Hedgehog

A French film (The Hedgehog) loosely following upon the novel (The Elegance of the Hedgehog), focuses upon the hidden life of an unnoticed individual, and through her providing a platform of unraveling the fears, aspirations, class differences and how we treat (or mistreat, as the case may be) each other based upon appearances and social constraints.  It is always the character of the child who uncovers the secret, as in the story of the emperor without clothes, and in this story, as youth has not yet been scarred by the juggernaut of societal preconceptions.

It is in the secret (and secretive) life of a janitor (for the French, the more refined title of a “concierge”), who hides her intelligence and love of literature for fear of appearing pretentious and thus facing the potential and threat of loss of her job attending to wealthy tenants — where the authenticity of a life’s worth reveals itself.  How the greater society reacts to an aberration of an entrenched social order disrupts the conventional manner in which people get along in a community.

The story presents lessons far-reaching beyond the obvious; and reaches into depths untraveled, including for Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition and must contend with supervisors and agencies which view with suspicion workers who are “different” and do not follow the traditional routine of work and productivity. For it is precisely the Federal and Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, who must often walk with hesitancy and fear when they are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.

Like the main character in The Hedgehog, revelation of the “secret” of one’s true being — of the medical condition, whether physical or psychiatric — would mean the potential adverse reaction of the agency.  Instead of providing for an accommodation of such a revealed “secret”, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will instead counter the situation with predictable aplomb, and begin the systematic harassment and intimidation to further complicate matters.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is quite often the best option for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition.  Like the character in the Hedgehog, the fear of retaliation for revelation of a “secret” which others believe to be disruptive to the social order, forces one to conceal that which proves to be the essence of humanity — that vulnerability is the true test of who we are.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Loyal Mascot

Mascots are loyal by definition.  As they symbolize the team, organization, group or particular population as a representative spokesperson, any conduct of disloyalty would be considered anathema to the entity.  The converse concept, of course, is rarely investigated, but should also “by definition” be true: the organization or entity should remain loyal to the mascot through whom the representative reputation is upheld.  However, when the symbol of the mascot no longer serves the purposes of the entity, the appearance may be altered; a wholesale exchange for another symbol may be entertained; or perhaps the very need for the mascot may be scrapped.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has sacrificed a good part of his or her life to the advancement of “the mission” of the agency, the feeling of being a mascot is often an effervescent quality.  Missions and causes are meant to be motivational focal points; a foundational rationale greater than one’s own lifetime of incrementally monotonous trivialities will provide a sense of purpose and destiny.

Such effervescence of feelings, however, can suddenly end, when an intersection of one’s destiny is interrupted by a medical condition.  For, it is precisely the harshness of a medical condition which suddenly awakens the soul, and contrasts those things once thought to be important, against the being-ness of mortality.  For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition suddenly impedes the Federal or Postal Worker’s ability and capacity to further “the mission” of the agency, contemplation in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, should always remain a viable option.

It is unfortunately a time when being the mascot for the agency may need to end.  The failure of effectiveness may result in the agency taking steps to terminate “the mascot”; but before that occurs, it may be better to take hold of the reigns of destiny, and begin the process of securing one’s future without regard to what the agency may or may not do.  Loyalty is supposed to be a bilateral venue of concerns, but is almost always to the benefit of the larger organization at the expense of the individual.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to consider the future and to leave the days of symbolism behind.  As medical conditions awaken the prioritization of life’s elements, so filing for Federal Disability Retirement is often the first step in recognizing that the days of the mascot may be over, and to come out from behind the symbolism to step into the fresh air of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Social Isolation

Federal and Postal employees who contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, often feel a profound sense of isolation.

First, of course, the agency itself has a tendency to treat the medically disabled Federal or Postal employee as a pariah; that, somehow, suffering from a medical condition is within the control of the sufferer.

Then, if the agency is informed of the very intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then certain consequential actions often follow:  a PIP may be imposed; leave restrictions may be enforced; an adverse action may be proposed, including a removal — often based not upon the medical condition, but all sorts of “other reasons” that have been tabulated, memorialized and recorded, by supervisors and fellow co-workers.  Yes, there is FMLA; yes, the Federal or Postal employee may file an EEO action or other potential lawsuit; but such counteractions fail to mitigate the sense of isolation and separation that the Federal or Postal employee feels, from an agency which he or she has expended one’s life and energies to advance for the cause of one’s career.

Third, when the Federal or Postal employee finally files with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM’s non-responsive attitude further exacerbates the sense of isolation.  A sense of closure is what one desires; of being able to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then to move on with life into the next phase of a vocation, the next step beyond.

One should always remember:  It is the very act of filing which is the first step in overcoming the profound sense of isolation; for, the act itself and the decision to move beyond, is the affirmative indicator that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Federal Agencies

Why do some Federal Agencies (and the Postal Service) act in non-supportive, negative ways, while others go out of their way to support their employees?  The answer to such a question essentially is as complex (or simplistic) as individuals themselves; for agencies are made up of individuals, and the reaction of an agency is often a reflection of the individuals who lead the agencies. 

When it comes to an employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement, this is often important to understand, because while Agencies (i.e., supervisors) cannot ultimately block a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, they can sometimes make the process more difficult for the applicant, by engaging in certain tactics (e.g., placing a person on AWOL as opposed to LWOP; delaying the writing of a Supervisor’s Statement; the H.R. Department being obstructionist, etc.) 

In dealing with an Agency, it is important to remain courteous, but not weak; professional, but not a “pushover”.  Further, it is important, where possible, to have an attorney deal with the Supervisor or the H.R. Department as a “buffer” between the Applicant and the Agency, to de-personalize the process.  When Agency Supervisor’s take things personally, problems arise.  It is as if all of the pent-up angers of accumulated personal slights come roaring to the forefront.  One should always try and avoid such personalization of the process, and allow for the smooth transition of the employee to becoming a Federal Disability Retiree.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Service Disability Retirement: Don’t Act with Haste

This time of year can result in Federal and Postal employees acting “in haste” — of resigning; of receiving a denial on a disability retirement application and not properly making a decision for one’s future or self-interest; of responding to Agency actions in ways which will not benefit one’s future.  The “Holidays” can be a trying time; those considering filing for disability retirement under FERS & CSRS should take the time to consult with an attorney to review all of the options open, before making any hasty decisions which may impact one’s future and career with the Federal Government.  Remember, even if the Agency is making noises to file an adverse action during this time, or is about to place you on a PIP, or is calling you in for an “investigative interview”, there is always time to respond, and in most cases, a request for an extension of time to respond should, and will, be granted.  Retaliatory agencies and supervisors love to use this Holiday Season, when time is shortened, to file all sorts of adverse actions.  Don’t respond in an inappropriate way; consult an attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire