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

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Wrong Sense of Shame

Having a sense of shame can reveal a heightened level of moral superiority; but as with all things emanating from the Good, those who lack a sensitivity to propriety will take full advantage of a misguided loyalty to ethical conduct.  Work and a duty to one’s vocation is a guiding principle for most Federal and Postal employees.  That is precisely why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is anathema to the Federal and Postal employee.

The committed Federal and Postal employee often has a warped and misguided sense of his ethical duty to work, and will allow for a medical condition to continue to exacerbate and debilitate, at the expense of one’s deteriorating health, all for the sake of commitment, devotion, and high ethical sense of duty to one’s mission for the agency.

Supervisors and managers recognize this, and take full advantage. But the Federal and Postal employee must by necessity understand that Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees precisely for the underlying reasons offered: When a medical condition impacts one’s health such that one can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is meant to be accessed precisely because it has always been part of the benefits package for all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Commitment to a mission is indeed commendable; blind devotion at the expense of one’s own health is somewhat less so — unless one counts the sneering approval of agencies who see such sacrifices as mere paths to the slaughterhouse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Temptation of More

It is similar to the proverbial truth of the “straw that broke the camel’s back”; or of the wise commoner who saved the king’s daughter from drowning, and who was offered a bounty of rice, to which he proposed the following: on each square of the chessboard, a doubling of the number from the previous square.  The temptation of the exponential factor is almost always unable to be resisted; that is the converse principle by which we live: by adding one (we are told), it will make our lives less complicated (so we believed).

Technology and the addition of each innovation would buy us more leisure time; work and stress would be lessened, because the salesman persuaded us that it would be so.  And so we have become accustomed, attuned, and trained to think in a linear, progressively upward trend; that the more we accumulate, the happier we will become, until one day the economics of aggregation become so burdensome that the weight of all of those additional threads of straw pile upon us with ever-growing pressures of daily living, and the salesman who sold that last gadget has walked away with the sack full of rice, content to have saved our lives (or laughing all the way to the bank with a knowing grin).

It is the conditioning of a cumulative-based society.  And, of course, when the burden is further exacerbated by a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to remain at the same purchasing power of economic viability, we are willing to sacrifice our health for the sake of more stuff.  For the Federal and Postal Workers who have dedicated their collective lives to furthering the mission of one’s agency, it is often a little more complex and complicated than just the economic issue; it is entangled with a sense of self-sacrifice, and a loyalty tending towards irrational discourse.  Perhaps this is a natural course for things; perhaps it is “the mission” which first tempted and attracted the Federal or Postal Worker to begin with.

In any event, Federal and Postal Workers fight to the end before contemplating filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and often to the detriment of one’s own health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there, however, for the 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. Whether under FERS or CSRS, it is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

While it is an annuity which will reduce the purchasing power of the Federal or Postal employee, the question which all Federal or Postal employees must ask is the following: What is the priority of one’s life, and at what point in our lives did we come to believe that acquiring things were more important than life itself?

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