The Admixture of Incremental Deterioration of Health Conditions While on Federal Employment

Destruction rarely comes as a sudden, tumultuous event; that is why tornadoes and hurricanes are noteworthy news items.  Instead, it is the slow rot of incremental deterioration which represents the commonplace thread of destroying lives, sort of like the metaphorical water torture where the progressive drip of each drop of destructive degeneration defines the dilapidation of deferred degradation (have we now engaged in enough alliteration to satisfy one’s amusement?).

Life itself is complex; filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must contend with such complexities, and it is often prudent to “separate out” the admixture of various issues in order to arrive at the best decision for each particularized life and circumstances.  Like splitting a cluster of atoms, separating a neutron can result in an unexpected implosion if one does not have a clear path and exit strategy, including having full knowledge of the consequences potentially resulting from each action engaged.  To the extent possible, one should never begin a bureaucratic process without knowing the resulting impact, whether foreseen or unforeseen.

The decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management by the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, can never be taken in a vacuum; the medical condition may have had its inception several years before; the agency may have undergone multiple changes of supervisors, where previous bosses signed off on liberal use of SL, AL & LWOP; where travel was curtailed with a wink-and-a-nod, and a loosely-held network of implicit understandings allowed for continuation in a position despite one’s inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.

Then, one day, in walks a fresh face, and the other side of humanity suddenly disappears.  Complaints are whispered, or perhaps even officially filed as an EEO suit.  Stress levels are increased, and suddenly medical conditions which were previously managed and quietly maintained flare up into major impediments and life-events bordering on crisis and turmoil.

One must understand, however, that the progressive and incremental deterioration was always in existence; it is precisely because of the slow, almost imperceptible nature of the rotting which was occurring, that few noticed.  Federal Disability Retirement is often the most prudent exit strategy in solving the problem of the incrementalism of havoc wrought by years of aggregated difficulties.

The first step in the process of preparing to file a Federal Disability Retirement application, however, is to sift and separate the relevant from the ancillary, without unintentionally splitting the proverbial atom, and to recognize that the crisis point is less of a singular event, and more likely a flashpoint resulting from years of neglect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Those Moments of Enlightened Clarity

It occurs in momentary lapses of time, as if fate, the spirits and the ephemeral heavenly bodies are mocking us silently in childish teases of playful provocations.  They are brief segments of clarity, when all of the cylinders of life appear well-oiled, when the metaphorical pistons are firing simultaneously, and the fuel pump is injecting a sufficient amount of energy, and we feel on top of the world.

This is perhaps how man is supposed to live, is meant to exist, and is thought to represent the essence of his being.  But as Rousseau would quip, the ravages of society and civilization tends to weigh upon the natural state of man, and separate him from his true essence.

And so it often is with the daily fight with an agency.

It is interesting to study the entire history of the concept of “accommodations” in the field of disability law; for, what one finds is that entities, including Federal agencies, rarely attempt more than a show of appearance to accommodate an individual’s medical condition.  The unstoppable grind of a bureaucracy’s march forward will wear down the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.  Fighting through standard means of EEO actions, discrimination lawsuits, formal grievances and complaints may stay the progress for a time; but time itself is always on the side of the Leviathan known as the Federal agency.

Ultimately, the disadvantage is two-fold for the Federal and Postal employee suffering from a medical condition: the process itself, and the medical condition which continues to debilitate.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option which need not be considered the “nuclear” option, but rather an acknowledgment that agencies can rarely change itself to suit the individual, and instead, it is always the individual which must change to fit into the vast sea of an organizational morass.

As for those moments of clarity? They often come when an affirmative step forward is taken, as when the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that there is more to life than fighting against an entity which cares little for the human frailty of a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: The Reset Button

We often hear in geopolitical circles about international relations taking a fresh turn because of a metaphorical and figurative ”reset” button which has been pushed.

Whether any substantive changes have taken place; regardless of an alteration in the behavior of one or both parties; the important event which seems to predominate in such declarations of a new partnership or alliance, is that the words which are spoken are now rearranged, and the harsh language of previous decades, or perhaps not even a fortnight ago, reflects a forgiven past with happy days ahead.

Often, however, the lack of substantive change manifests itself quite quickly, as words have the extent of impact only within the context of that momentary declaration of purpose.  Beyond the statement itself, unless the alteration itself is imposed upon the substantive behavior of the individual, group, entity or country, the reality of an unchanged heart slowly reveals its true nature as circumstances test the essence of who or what a person or country truly represents.

The real problem with the concept of a “reset” button is that it only works if both parties to an accord push the metaphorical object.  Eagerness by one side to declare the change of relationship is often the rule, while the “other” party who is the one who really needs the resetting of behavior stands by in silent indifference with a wry smile.  Ultimately, it is the need for change which underlies the entire resetting of a relationship.

For Federal and Postal employees who have come to a point in their career where a medical condition continues to impact the ability to perform the essential elements of their job and positional duties, the proposal and imposition of adverse actions, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (commonly known as a “PIP”); suspensions; letters of reprimands; Leave Usage Restrictions; or Proposed Removals — all are actions by the agency which reveal that a resetting of the relationship between the agency and the individual is sorely in need.

The ultimate tool for that resetting of the relationship, is for the Federal and Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.  While taking such a step may not alter the behavior of the agency, it at least changes the relationship by letting the agency know that the underlying medical condition is the primary cause for the deterioration of the employer/employee relationship, and further, that the severing of ties will be the ultimate outcome.

Moreover, in the case of an OPM Disability Retirement, the pushing of the reset button is never to change the relationship for the benefit of the agency, but merely to change the relationship itself in order for the Federal or Postal employee to attend to the substantive importance of one’s health and wellbeing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Mourning for Things We Never Knew

We often reminisce for things we never knew, but imagined we once had or hoped to have; of small towns and neighborhoods where caring concern characterized a sense of community and belonging; or perhaps it was from our remembrances, formed and solidified from old television shows we grew up with, when once innocence of times of yore remained with us to form dreams of a brighter future.

Health and monotony tends to have a similar effect. The former, because we take it for granted; and the latter, because we mistakenly believe that crisis equals excitement, when in fact security of daily living without eruptions of emergency management is the quietude which most of us seek, though we fail to appreciate it.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, the times of yore when a life without pain is barely remembered, and where the lingering effects of an extensive medication regimen was once comprised of a single multivitamin pill, the thought of wanting to return to a “time prior to” is often at the forefront of daily reminiscences, and constitutes the limited hope for the future.

At some point, however, as medical conditions continue to deteriorate, and as the surgical interventions, palliative medical procedures and list of countermanding medication regimens increase in volume and expand in extent, it becomes clear that the impact upon one’s attempt to maintain an appearance of normalcy can no longer be tolerated.

When the Federal or Postal employee’s medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, it is time to consider preparing the steps to formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Such a Federal Disability Retirement application must be ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and because the waiting process can be quite lengthy, the initial steps should be contemplated fairly early in the recognition of medical condition-to-impact upon one’s job.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit there for Federal employees under either FERS or CSRS, and is a compensatory system enacted precisely for those Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform one’s job.

Longing for a time once remembered is an activity of comforting reminiscence; the reality of the present, however, awakens us from the slumber of such daydreams of an era once blinking on the horizon of a time long passed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire