OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Loss of Identity

It is often the fear of losing one’s identity which prevents one from moving forward and doing what one must, what one should, and what one needs to do in life.

For some, it may involve the complexity of human interaction and involvement with people; for others, a sense of accomplishment and goal-oriented tasks; but for all, the identity of self developed through reputation, interaction, subjectively-held viewpoints and objectively-determined statements of fact: “others” see you as the Federal Air Marshal, the Auditor, the Mail Carrier, the Electronic Technician, the Air Traffic Controller, the Budget Analyst, the Attorney-Advisor, the Administrative Officer, and a multitude of other identifiable positions which grant to the Federal or Postal employee a defined role in the mission of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is precisely that objectively-applied identity, developed through years of self-identification combined with being defined by others, which in their cumulative aggregation, forms the knowledge of self over the years.  Such an identity becomes threatened, however, when loss of position becomes a reality in the fact of a medical condition which begins to prevent the Federal employee or the Postal worker from continuing in the role of the defined position.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who discover that the intersection of life’s misfortunes cannot be fully resolved in favor of what one wants, but must consider what is needed and required, the realization that loss of identity often raises the specter of roadblocks preventing the building of necessary steps, which then results in procrastination and greater loss due to delay, is a daily encounter with contradictions and conflicts which cannot be compromised.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, for the Federal employee or Postal worker who is under either FERS or CSRS, is a necessity mandated by circumstances beyond one’s control. It is when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, that consideration needs to be given to filing for disability with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The fear of loss of identity-through-job is ultimately an imaginary one, and one which belies the true essence of a person’s identity. One can get caught up in the “mission of the agency” or the camaraderie of corporate functions; but in the end, but for one’s health, very little retains meaning or significance; and to sacrifice one’s health for a bureaucratic entity which will survive long after one’s life, is a folly encapsulating tragic proportions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Agency Self-Interest

Self-interest is an interesting characteristic to observe — one which everyone possesses, but only the obtuse deny.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, be aware that the Agency has its own self-interest.

If the stated interest is couched in terms of the Federal or Postal employee’s “best interests”, it is good to be suspicious, or at least modestly cautious in embracing such a claim.  Such wariness in accepting the stated claim of one’s agency is obviously not a warning which most Federal or Postal employees would receive with any surprise; you have been Federal or Postal employees for many years, and those initial years of idealism and youthful enthusiasm have already been stamped out of you (let not the cynicism of this writer dampen the ardor of youth).

If one follows the advice of the Agency blindly, ask yourself the following question:  If you receive a denial at the First Stage of the process, will the agency respond in a helpful manner, or will they say:  It is not our responsibility — it is the Office of Personnel Management which makes the decision?  Is it a common experience that agencies defer responsibility when something goes wrong?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Using an Agency’s Action

Agencies will often act in predictable fashion; they act based upon prior actions engaged in; they act as an organic constituent of procedures and policies previously followed (often blindly and without thought) in the past; they act in self-interest, and often with a very narrow, myopic path and goal.  

If an agency ignores the medical conditions and the documentation submitted showing the medical conditions of a Federal or Postal employee, and removes an individual from his or her Federal position based upon reasons other than one’s medical inability to perform one’s job (whether intentionally or because no one bothered to look at the medical documentation), then the resulting action can obviously impact a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Often, the Agency’s general counsel will be the first person to finally listen to reason, and by then an appeal has been filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board, for the sole and narrow purpose — not of overturning the termination or getting one’s job back, but — of rescinding the adverse decision of removal and reissuing a removal based upon one’s medical inability to perform one’s job.  

This course of action, however, is not always necessary.  Often, the adverse action, the delineation of poor performance, etc., can be directly tied to one’s progressively deteriorating medical condition, and the Agency’s own actions can be used to one’s advantage in proving a Federal Disability Retirement case.  Each case is different, and discretion in fighting for that which is helpful, and recognizing that what may “appear” to be adverse, is actually to one’s benefit, is the key to winning a Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire