FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: ICM versus ICBM

During the Cold War era, the latter acronym was familiar to most, as fears were magnified as to the intercontinental capacity of the U.S.S.R. (those who can still decipher this immediately reveals one’s age).  In those days, one did not need to know the Eastern European countries by name; they all fell under the satellite rubric of the “union” of those with “the Bear”.  ICBMs were counted and their capacity and efficacy were determined by the exponential powers of the number of “warheads” attached.

ICMs, on the other hand, are a fairly recent phenomenon. They show the extent, or the lack thereof, in what agencies and individuals with minor fiefdoms will perpetuate.  They can also be metaphorical antonyms of ICBMs, in that when one possesses an ICM, it can result in the prevention of an ICBM being launched across the barricades of time.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, because of a medical condition which is impacting one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to utilize one’s hoard of ICMs.

Agencies often have no need or, rather, they will often disregard the need, to engage in utilizing impulsivity control mechanisms, because they have the power to hire, fire, reprimand, reassign or otherwise penalize the serfs of this world. But for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is important to apply the various impulsivity control mechanisms available, including resisting the urge to inform a supervisor until the proper time; the inclination to make derogatory references about the workplace in one’s Statement of Disability; and other impulses which may ultimately harm the goal of attainment sought: of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, granted through an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, in the end, the ICBMs remained in cold storage [sic], precisely because the greater instinct for humanity’s survival depended upon the evolutionary relevance of ICMs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Employee Medical Retirement: The Intersection of Interests

Throughout one’s life, most Americans have minimal contact with governmental bureaucracies and agencies, except to comply with Selective Service requirements, join the military, file tax returns, claim Social Security benefits in older age, etc. Such encounters are often considered bothersome, and many grumble and complain about the intrusive nature of such dealings. What is often not perceived, of course, is the vast amount of indirect statutory and administrative requirements placed upon private entities, which then shift burdens upon the private citizen, unbeknownst to the person entering the store, bank, etc.

For the Federal and Postal Worker, however, the daily bureaucratic encounters are part of one’s life. The Federal and Postal employee is part of that administrative process which impacts the private sector of the economy; they are, in essence, the “insiders” who make the mechanisms of government tick. As such, the Federal and Postal Worker often has little idea how the “private” individual views such inner workings, until he or she becomes just like the “outsider” and encounters a Federal bureaucracy in the same shoes as the private individual.

When the Federal or Postal employee finds it necessary to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such a clash and intersection of interests suddenly takes on a new perspective. In one fell swoop, the Federal and Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes both an “insider” as well as an “outsider” — the former, because he or she is still part of the Federal agency or Postal Service; the latter, because such dealings must ultimately be with an independent agency identified as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Such intersection of interests often becomes befuddling; for, no longer is the encounter embracing the administrative and bureaucratic work to which one is accustomed; rather, it is to stand in line like other private citizens to file a claim for benefits.

Such a state of being, for the Federal and Postal Worker, can be likened to the deceased individual caught in Purgatory; and, indeed, perhaps some sins unknown and not atoned for, have been placed upon such Federal and Postal employees to have to encounter OPM in such a state. Whatever the reasons, such an encounter can be just as much of an eye-opener to the Federal and Postal employee, as a private citizen who encounters the complex bureaucracy of the Federal government for the first time in his or her life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Bureaucracy

Most people, organizations and entities do not act with deliberate ill-intentions; rather, they fail to think, and actions emanating from thoughtlessness often constitutes the negation of good.  Bureaucratization often results in the unintended consequence of negating the good; for, in following a set pattern and algorithm of administrative procedures, consideration for individual circumstances cannot be excepted.

One can argue, of course, for the positive aspects of a bureaucracy — of the equal treatment of all; of applying the same standards and criteria across the board, regardless of individual needs; and there is certainly something to be said for expunging the capacity for human favoritism.  But bias and favoritism will always pervade; it will merely take on a more insidious form.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, encountering the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will become a necessary evil to confront.

The key to a successful interaction with the administrative process will be to reach beyond the faceless bureaucracy, and to make relevant one’s own particular and unique facts and circumstances.  That is a tall order to face, in the face of a faceless bureaucracy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Dealing with Adversity

How does one deal with adversity?  When the adversary is a faceless entity, a bureaucracy which acts as a behemoth of epic proportions, one must take care in choosing the proper battle to engage.  For, ultimately, the victory or loss of a battle is often determined by logistical considerations — of where and when it is fought.

Further, it is important to identify who the “enemy” is against whom one wages a battle.  Is it a separate entity, or is the real enemy one’s self?  When an individual is suffering from a medical condition such that one is weakened, others will often begin to smell the scent of such weakness, and begin to prey upon the deteriorated stateit is “worth the while” to fight against the agency, the system, and the entirety of the Federal Bureaucracy.

It is well and good to say, “I’m not giving up” and to fight for one’s rights, but at what cost?  At the cost of one’s health?

More often than not, it is a smart strategic move to leave the battle s of being.  That is the law of the runt; it is the rule of the world.  For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a position where one’s medical conditions have deteriorated to a point where he/she can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to consider whether cene, and go into the quietude of the morning sun, in order to find the space of recuperative peace, in order to come back to battle another day.

Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is just such a safety hatch; and whether you are under FERS or CSRS, it is a consideration worth noting, and taking, in order to regain one’s strength, to come back for another day — next time, from atop the vantage point of a hill, instead of looking up from the valley of death and destruction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

OPM Disability Retirement: Power, Persuasion and the Legal Argument

FERS & CSRS Disability retirement is no different, in kind, than other areas of law which intersect with individuals and personalities.  As an area of administrative law, and specifically, where a government entity (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) is involved, the Federal or Postal worker must encounter an agency which is large, powerful, and often immovable (sort of like Aristotle’s Primum movens, or the Prime Mover).  

The singular Federal or Postal worker may find the encounter with the Federal government to be a daunting, almost insurmountable task.  It is the classic meeting of two unequal forces; and, as such, there is always a question as to who will prevail.  

Fortunately, however, there are some mechanisms in place which allow for persuasive argumentation.  If a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Stage of the administrative process, then there is the Second, or Reconsideration Stage of the process, which places the disability retirement application in the hands of a different OPM case worker, in a different section.  If it gets rejected a second time, then it is taken entirely out of the hands of OPM, and will be placed before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Throughout the entire process, however, the Federal or Postal worker may feel lonely, small and irrelevant.  That is why the Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement must engage in substantive and persuasive legal argumentation.  Persuasion is the key where power is unavailable.  It is OPM which has the power; it is the Federal or Postal Worker who has the persuasive tools, and must use them to his or her advantage as the law allows.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Waiting to Get your Federal Disability Retirement Benefits?: Well Worth It

There are many stories out there.  Indeed, as many Federal and Postal Workers who live and work throughout the United States and in Europe, Japan, and across the spectrum of the world, there is a microcosmic, personal story to be told.  That is the point of Chekhov’s short story, “Grief”, in which the father needs to relate the narrative story of the tragedy of his son’s death.  

In the impersonal world within which we live our lives, as a cocoon untouched and untouchable, there are stories and tragedies which we know not about.  Then, there are the narratives of successful outcomes; of those Federal and Postal workers who have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, who — years later — relate tidbits of starting second vocations, of having the opportunity to rehabilitate from their medical conditions, and to start “new” lives.  

The “present” and “now” is always a time of anguish, especially if one is suffering from a medical condition, or is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for a Federal Disability Retirement case.  

Is it worth the wait?  To ask that in the present-tense is probably not the right question.  Rather, once a Federal or Postal worker has filed, has obtained an approval, and has taken some years to move on into another stage of life, the time to ask the question is probably in a retrospective manner:  Was it worth the wait?  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee who intends on filing must understand that it can be a long and frustrating administrative process.  Hopefully, however, the hope of the future is what makes the waiting worthwhile.  For, without the hope of the future, we would all be stuck in the drudgery of the present.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire