Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Watchful Eyes

The falcon flies in our midst; with an unknown distance of its perimeter to prey, it suddenly appears, perched with watchful eyes for squirrels, rabbits, other birds, etc.  Its flight is silent and graceful, and long before people realize its presence, the silence and sudden muteness of wildlife activity reveals the fear imposed by its mere appearance.  It flies silently, swiftly, and with a grace which demands awe and respect.  From its high vantage point, the targeted prey below rarely stands a fair chance of avoidance.  Those eyes are focused, with a singular vision operating to corner, catch and consume.  Organisms under a microscope must feel a similar sense, if indeed they become aware of being studied and prodded.

People, too, who are being surveilled and inspected; there is often a sixth sense of being constantly and vigilantly watched.  Federal and Postal Workers who are under the onerous burden of a Performance Improvement Plan (the acronym of a “PIP”) have that same sense.  It is not a positive or productive feeling; it is, instead, a dread of knowing that the “watching” part is merely a prelude for further actions forthcoming, like the noiseless glide of the hawk above.

Being under the constant gaze of a predator often requires preventative action on the part of the prey; for Federal and Postal Workers who come to recognize that his or her job performance is deteriorating because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be the best option and course of action to take.  Because it is taking such a long time to get an approval these days, preparatory steps should be taken early.  Waiting for a separation from service, while still allowing for time thereafter to file, is normally not the wisest course.

As it is always better to be the “watcher” than the “watched”, so the Federal and Postal employee who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should take the affirmative steps to prepare for an eventuality — that time when, like the hawk who has made a decision to target its prey, the Federal or Postal Worker has a place of refuge to enter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Futility of Waiting

The waiting game is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of any endeavor; for, in the end, dependence upon a third party to act, when the other person, entity or agency, may in fact never act, merely increases the sense of frustration.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) or CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System — that grand old system which some were fortunate enough to squeeze into before the mid-80s when abolition and transition to FERS occurred), Federal and Postal employees will often think that they must “wait” for their agency to act, to perform some duty, to respond, to do something… when in fact waiting normally results in further non-action.

Since the preponderance of the evidence in proving a Federal Disability Retirement case is solely upon the Federal or Postal worker who applies, it is rare that waiting for anything from one’s agency will bear any substantive fruit of any kind.  While medical conditions continue to progressively worsen, one is left waiting; while time continues to march on, one is left waiting; and while resources get depleted, and more and more SL & AL is used up, the Federal and Postal worker is left with the proverbial empty bag.

No, there is ultimately nothing that needs to be waited upon in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  While dreams of the future are made with the stuff of patience, it rarely includes waiting upon an agency of the Federal Government to prepare one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Better to go chase a cloud in the sky than to expect anything helpful.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Agency & the Burden of Proof

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the burden of proving one’s medical inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, always remains with the individual Federal or Postal applicant.

Certainly, there are actions by the agency which may add to such proof (e.g., declaring that the Federal or Postal worker is “not fit for duty” will further concretize an assessment made by a third party; or initiating a separation from Federal Service based upon one’s medical inability to perform the essential elements of the job will trigger the Bruner Presumption, which then invokes a rebuttable presumption and shifts the “burden of production” (note that it is not the shifting of the “burden of proof” — a conceptual distinction important to recognize) over to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Waiting for one’s agency to act upon anything is, however, a very dangerous venture to begin with; thinking that one’s own agency will provide the proof necessary to establish one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits would not only be dangerous, but foolhardy.  For, at its most fundamental level, the fact that the very entity which makes a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application (OPM) is one which is separate and independent from the agency for which one works, creates a chasm which only further magnifies the inherent problem.

OPM pays little to no attention to what the agency does — except, perhaps, when the agency attempts to directly confront and challenge a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Otherwise, don’t look for help from one’s agency (generally speaking) when one is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; such unfounded reliance will only disappoint, at best.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Excessive Reliance

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is never a good idea to proceed with excessive reliance (or any at all, for that matter) upon expected or presumed actions on the part of one’s Agency.

The preponderance of the evidence in proving a Federal Disability Retirement application is always upon the Federal or Postal worker, and one should affirmatively and pro-actively proceed without regard to what the Agency will do, says it will do, or might do during the process.

Yes, the Agency has its portion to complete; yes, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does review the entirety of the Disability Retirement packet, including the standard forms which the agency must complete, along with other personnel information that is forwarded to OPM.

But the crux and essence of a Federal Disability Retirement applications always remains the medical information gathered and submitted, along with the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in conjunction with the asserted nexus constructed between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s job.

Any other approach is merely to run a fool’s errand for a fiefdom from which one is attempting to flee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Acts of Futility

It was Heidegger who observed that our everyday lives were merely distractions in order to avoid the ultimate encounter with our own mortality — a revelation too profound to contemplate, and thus we engage in meaningless and monotonous projects in order to shift our focus away from the stark reality of life and death.

It is indeed the human species which continually and perennially embraces various acts of futility, despite irrefutable evidence that such actions lead to no fruitful or purposive outcome.  But to cease such engagements would be to stop and think; and reflection would mean a forced quietude in which contemplation upon the state of one’s being would be unavoidable; and from there, the vast void of nihilism might encroach, and so perhaps resumption of purposeless, repetitive treadmill-like engagements are best for sanity and survival.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that one is prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, however, contemplation in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a necessity which cannot be avoided.   Further, the greatest singular act of futility in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is to wait upon an agency to act; for, as agencies exist in order to appear to act with purpose, but where inaction allows for greater exigencies and justification for existence; as such, agencies rarely act, and when they do, they do so to the detriment of the Federal or Postal employee.

Thus, the hard rule should always be:  be proactive and do not wait for an agency to accommodate or otherwise assist you.  Distractions and diversions are fine in life; but when the necessity arises to attend to one’s medical needs, you need to act, and act in the best interest of one’s own being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire