Actions and Principles of Federal Agencies toward Their Employees with Disabilities before FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement

Can a person possess a core principle which declares that one should not be cruel to animals, but yet intimidate and harass a coworker?  Is it possible that one can state adherence to a philosophy, but act in ways contrary to such a declaration of fidelity to such a public policy?  Does authenticity and correlation between words and actions matter?

Of course, the simple answer is that hypocrisy has always been rampant throughout history, and one need only look at politics to come to the conclusion that speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth (as the proverbial adage is often conveyed) is a state of being that one can easily live with.  Thus the conundrum: Every and any question which begins with, “Is it possible that…” is one which has already been answered by the whims of history.

Public policy statements which declare that Federal agencies will seek every “reasonable” effort to accommodate an individual’s disability, are replete but often empty, precisely because words are open to interpretation.  And perhaps that is the “out” which many find easily excusable, in justifying the dissonance between words and actions.

Fortunately, for Federal and Postal employees, there is always the viable option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS. It is the “safety hatch” which can be used against agencies and the U.S. Postal Service in order to circumvent that self-contradicting public policy statement that medical conditions which impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, will be “accommodated” to the extent that such accommodation is “reasonable”.

Since that which is reasonable is open to interpretation, the reality of retaining a Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, becomes as rare as that individual who speaks and acts in consistent harmony of fidelity to both.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, where the impact is felt directly in the workplace, and where the supervisor who kicks his dog in the privacy of his home but volunteers his time with the local SPCA begins to speak earnestly about the “mission of the agency“, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in the end, principles and actions matter when it touches upon one’s personal health, and the need for restorative relief from a workplace which defies consistency of either.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Flashpoint

The flashpoint is the temperature at which an organic compound becomes combustible; during the entire time building up to that point, the rising temperature in combination with the chemical reactiveness of the substance was all the while sitting in preparation for the point of ignition; were there options to pursue prior to the point of ignition?  If there had been a change in chemical make-up, then perhaps the point of temperature-to-combination of substance would have altered, where either a higher or lower flashpoint would occur; or, the rise of the temperature, and the rate of acceleration, could have been changed.

Whatever the needed changes in order to avoid the flashpoint, however, one thing is clear:  the options are limited, and any altered states would merely delay the ultimate event of a flashpoint occurrence.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the flashpoint of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an inevitability which leaves the Federal or Postal employee similarly limited options.

One can continue in the mode of life which one finds one’s self in: of the daily treadmill of suffering through the workday with pain, profound fatigue and progressively debilitated emotional turmoil.  Or, one can wait for the Agency to initiate an adverse action, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), periodic suspensions or reprimands — or removal.  Or, one can begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Limited options do not necessarily constitute a flashpoint of negative consequences; yes, a fire bursting in a home is a tragedy, but then there are controlled fires and even naturally occurring ones in fields of decay which benefit the environment.

It is thus ultimately up to the Federal or Postal employee to determine the point of combustibility, and therefore the timing of the event identified as the flashpoint.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Kierkegaard’s Either/Or

Life is often a series of disjunctions and bifurcation of choices; in mathematics and logic, such series of “either/or” options or “if and only if” algorithms provide a neat analytical explication of a problem.  But in daily living, numerical precision is replaced by a complex series of pragmatic decision-making options which rarely fit into a predetermined set of constants.

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher of some note, whose work entitled, “Either/Or”, presented the stark choice of following a normative life governed by principles and ethics, or one of hedonism and self-interest. One might argue that there are always “middle grounds” where such choices overlap; but the clarified standards as presented allow for foundational paradigms to be followed; let life itself impart the complexities we create of our own making.

For Federal and Postal employees considering the important step of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately a bifurcation of stark options.  For, as there are no short-term disability benefits available (unless it is a work-related injury, in which case one may file for OWCP/Department of Labor benefits; or some private disability policies), the choice is to either remain with the agency and the Federal system, and continue to deteriorate with the progressive decline of one’s health, or to file for a benefit (Federal Disability Retirement), where the medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months and where one is separated from Federal Service upon an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The paradigms presented are clear.  The difficult part is in taking the necessary steps to choose between the disjunction of that which life presents, without getting caught up in the logical inconsistency of a world which believes itself to be rational, but acts in ways which are clearly contrary to its own normative constructs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement for Civilian Federal Employees: A Path to Consider

Of course, when a person begins his or her career with the Federal Government, the consideration of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit does not enter into the equation of accepting the position.  Most Federal and Postal workers would rather work and be healthy, than to resort to preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

Indeed, the problem with Federal and Postal workers is not that the option of Federal Disability Retirement is considered or taken; rather, the problem lies more in the fact that it is an option of last resort — which is probably how it should be, however necessary such an option must be for many Federal and Postal Workers.  But at some point in the linear continuum of a person’s career, where health and work collide and one must make a choice between the two, it is too often the case that the Federal or Postal worker has passed the point of “reasonableness” in preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

It is rare that it is ever “too late” to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (unless we are talking about missing the Statute of Limitations in filing); but most Federal and Postal workers, whether from a sense of duty, commitment, or sheer stubbornness, will work beyond the point of a well-reasoned and informed state of health or self-preservation. But however and whenever that point of finally choosing the path of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, comes about, one should prepare one’s case carefully; formulate the disability retirement application with care and foresight; and file it in a timely manner.  

When the time comes, and the path to a recuperative period of one’s life is finally considered, it should be done “right” — as much as one has invested in the effort of work itself throughout one’s career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Working with the Medical Condition

As the 2012 – 2013 Pro-football season comes to an end, with the approach of final playoff games and the Superbowl, the controversy and issues concerning the game itself — of injuries to players; of concussions and allowing for types of plays which have a high percentage of probability for injuries; of RGIII of the Washington Redskins being allowed to play despite clearly being injured; and of the culture of football which idolizes players who can endure pain — these will continue to be debated and discussed, and peripheral corrections and adjustments to the game itself appear to be an inevitability.

The counter to much of this debate has been twofold:  first, that those who play the game do so knowingly, and therefore cannot complain about the potential risks and hazards of the game itself, and second, that because the players are well-compensated, they therefore do not have a right to object to the inherent dangers of the game.  

For the Federal or Postal worker who has been working for many years in his or her job, and who is suffering from a medical condition, the entire controversy surrounding football players may be a distant and foreign concept.  For the Federal or Postal employee, enduring the medical condition in order to continue to work and to make a viable living is merely a daily necessity.  

There comes a point, however, where the medical condition can no longer be tolerated, and where filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes an option which must be considered.  Football is a well-compensated game; life in other sectors, like Federal and Postal workers who have worked diligently to pursue a career, engulfs a lifetime of commitment.  

Working through pain is nothing new for the Federal or Postal worker.  That occurs daily, all across the U.S.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, watching football on television is merely a pastime, and such controversies seem like a distraction to those who know, firsthand, what it means to endure a medical condition on a daily basis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Automatic Pilot

There is the classic story of the man who sued the seller of his Recreational Vehicle:  Having been told that his RV could be driven on “automatic cruise control”, he proceeded to follow the directions, then got up and walked towards the back of the RV in order to make some coffee.  He mistakenly interpreted what the salesman had said, that the vehicle “drives itself”.

While partially true, what he failed to understand is that the “pilot” of the vehicle still needed to steer the vehicle; it was merely the forward motion which was on automatic pilot — not where the vehicle was going.  The two distinguishing features — the “what” of X (the occurrence of a running engine and movement) and the “where” of X (the direction in which the vehicle is going) — should never be confused.

Similarly, the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, should never confuse the fact that he may still have a job, with the danger of not knowing what direction the agency is considering with respect to the employee.

Smiles and inquiries about one’s medical condition are niceties which are often indicators of a deeper motivation.  What the Supervisor “says” in showing concern about one’s medical condition, may betray a directional change which may never be overtly stated.  Waiting to suddenly one day have a collision with the agency may not be the best approach in preparing for one’s future.

While it is true that all Federal and Postal employees have up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM from the date of separation from service, you might consider being the pilot of that endeavor, instead of waiting for a sudden crash with the agency to occur.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire