It is an argument which cannot be won, and one which is avoided, if possible, but nevertheless I find myself engaged in from time to time. It is the argument of one’s historical background, and whether one has the viable power to justify the improper action (or inaction), and it goes something like this: “The Agency requires that…” Response: “Yes, but that is not what the Office of Personnel Management requires, and it is OPM who is the final arbiter in the matter.” “Well, that may be, Mr. ___, but I have been doing this for over 10 years and that’s the way it’s always been done.” Response: “Well, I have been doing this for over ___” “We are just trying to help.” Beware of the “helpful” agency.
In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, if an individual has not been separated from Federal Service for more than thirty one (31) days, the entire packet must go through the Federal Agency for which the applicant is working or was working. Even if the separation occurred over 31 days prior to the filing, certain Standard Forms must be obtained from the former agency. In “dealing” with the Agency, one often gets into the “back-and-forth” game of how a certain procedure needs to be followed, and that is when the childish playground game of “who has the greater historical experience” is often engaged in. At bottom, it all comes down to a power game. It is best to avoid it. It is best to be courteous and civil. But when the Human Resources person says, “I’m just trying to be helpful,” beware. You have probably just lost the game.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire