Federal Disability Retirement: Vows and Contracts

People take vows for various reasons: vows of silence, as a satisfaction of a prerequisite for initiation into a religious order; vows of marriage, for the union intended for a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice; vows of revenge, for a personal vendetta in retribution for actions suffered against one’s self or on behalf of another; and similar vows of unremitting focus until the satisfaction of such enduring commitment is accomplished.  Similarly, contracts are entered into each day, across the globe, between individuals, corporate entities and groups formed specifically for business and personal reasons.

Is there a difference between a “vow” and a “contract“?  On a superficial level, the former is viewed as a “higher order” semblance of the latter.  In a deeper sense, that is not only true, but all the more so — or, in erudite form, a fortiori.  For, to vow is to give of one’s self in totality of being; it is a gift of one’s self, often without any expectation of a similar receiving.

In contract law, of course, it is precisely the comparative analysis of a “consideration” provided and received, which determines the viability and sustainability of the agreement itself.  Far too often, Federal and Postal employees see their commitment to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service as a “vow” in employment, as opposed to a contract freely entered into, and just as freely abrogated when the need arises. This is seen when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition and must consider the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

The Federal or Postal employee treats the job as one of a “vow”, as if the significance of clinging on to the position is of greater importance than the detriment manifested to one’s health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, is merely a contractual annuity accorded based upon the status of the individual as a Federal or Postal employee, and further proven by a preponderance of the evidence.  No vows have been exchanged — neither of the silent type, implicit, nor explicit, and certainly not of an unequivocal or unremitting nature.

Contractual terms are meant to be asserted; and one of the provisions of the “contract” for all Federal and Postal employees, is that when the Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, then eligibility for Federal Disability benefits may be invoked.

To accept a contractual provision is never to take advantage of anything, unfairly or otherwise; rather, it is merely a satisfaction of terms. To do otherwise, and to confuse X as Y, as in mistaking a contract for a vow, is merely to bathe in a puddle of muddle-headed thinking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Government Workers: Sides (Part II)

Side orders are meant to compliment the entree; there are specific types of appetizers and addendum dishes which enhance the culinary delights, and those with more sophisticated and refined salivary receptors tend to make a magnified fuss about such issues, especially in posh restaurants where a display of the proper matching of manners, wines, menus and side orders are embraced with an upturned nose of superiority and a disdain for those who fail to follow the propriety of civilized society.

Choosing sides and the ability to do so, tells much about a person.

In restaurants, furtive glances are often exchanged when a person attempts to order in the original language of the cuisine; in sports, from an early age, choosing sides reveals one’s fealty, and ingratiating self-to-popularity by excluding those who are are estranged from the inner circle of cliques is the safer route to take.

Coordinating loyalties from an early stage in one’s career is merely an extension of both — of choosing the “right” sides to the entree of one’s profession.  For the Federal and Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the warning signals begin to blare early on.

Old loyalties begin to fray; more recent touches of camaraderie quickly crumble; and what we did for the supervisor, or that major project that we worked late nights for months on endless turmoil which resulted in accolades for upper management — and a satisfying pat on the back for the underlings — are all forgotten.  Clear lines to bifurcate which side you are on, fade with time.  During the 7th inning stretch, the white powder may have to be rolled upon the diamond again, to reestablish the boundaries of the game.

But for the Federal and Postal employee who dares to allow for a medical condition to impact the “mission of the agency”, and to begin to prepare to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the rules of the game itself begin to change radically.  No longer are there boundaries of proprieties; side dishes are not served to compliment, anymore; and there is no one left to be a part of your team.  You have now become the pariah, the outsider; the one estranged from the rest, while everyone else watches you with gleeful betrayal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Sides (Part I)

Was there a time when moral order, social propriety and conventional codes of conduct were bifurcated in such clear and identifiable demarcations, such that everyone knew the rules and roles by which to abide?  Or were there always overlapping and invidious borders which constituted conditional conundrums?  Movies of the old west are still enjoyed today, if not merely for entertainment, then for the simplicity of identifying the differentiation between good and evil, where the grey dawn of loss of certitude is rarely implied.

People take “sides” each and every day, but the lack of verifiability in determining who stands for what, and what issues are truly worth standing up for, has become a problem of infinite and exponential magnification of wide and confusing latitudes. There are some things in life where privacy must be guarded with the utmost of heightened protective instincts. “Choosing sides” is something we all learned in school; how we choose, and what titers of alarms we utilize, is all the more important when it comes to personal integrity and future security.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question of who our friends are, will quickly surface during the process.  Identifying the adversary is thought to be an easy process; thinking that a supervisor or coworker is a “friend” to be relied upon, is a more daunting and dangerous endeavor.  That is where the confidentiality of an attorney can be helpful.

The beauty of old films and archaic cowboy movies, is that the black-and-white film footage clearly and unmistakably identifies the man in the white hat.  That is the “good guy”.  Within Federal agencies, such clear identification for the Federal or Postal Worker who begins the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, is a rare occasion.

Choosing sides is important.  How one chooses; whom to rely upon; what advice to follow; all are confusing conundrums within a complex world of backstabbers, betrayals, and agencies populated by those who seek to become the next Lady Macbeth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Building Blocks

The analogy or metaphor in preparing, filing, and waiting (for a decision) in a Federal Disability Retirement application for FERS or CSRS employees, submitted for review before the Office of Personnel Management, is of a child with square building blocks. If at the first try, the outcome is a nod of approval, nothing further needs to be accomplished.  If, however, a third party (the Office of Personnel Management) comes along and knocks down the building blocks (analogy:  a denial from OPM), then the child must rearrange the building blocks anew, and perhaps add one or two more for reinforcement.  

Thus, depending upon the basis of OPM’s denial (which is often either irrelevant or self-contradictory, or both), one may want to reinforce that which was already gathered and organized, for a re-presentation of both the original evidence, and additional medical or other supporting evidence.  Again, if a third party (OPM) knocks down the second set of building blocks (a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage of the process), then it will be time for further reorganization, and for gathering of additional supporting building blocks.  When it gets to the Third Level of the process, the Merit Systems Protection Board, remember that all of the original building blocks of the process will still be there for the Administrative Judge to review.  That is the point of having the perspective of the entire process as one of “building blocks” — that the entire foundation is still there to be added to and reviewed, in the end, by an Administrative Judge.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire