OPM Disability Retirement: Those Fall Leaves

The time of change and spectrums of colors beyond mere rainbows of solitude; it is often poetically described as the season of deterioration, of old age before the winter of mortality.  Fall brings about a freshness of cooler winds, a precursor of foretelling that those dog days of summer have come to an end.  Ever look at the fallen leaves and mistake them for something else — an animal, perhaps, or a figure of caustic imagination?

Such projections erupting from our own fears and hesitancy reveal the true state of our being.  The leaves bring color to an otherwise dreary existence; once fallen, they can take on whatever hopes, dreams and fears we wish to accentuate.  Looked upon from a distance, shapes of crinkling leaves can take on forms enhanced through our imaginations.  It is only when we deliberate, walk up closer, and verify, that we can ascertain with a semblance of certitude that it was not what we thought, or that it constituted nothing more than our fears gone awry.

Fear and imagination tends to do that; until we take affirmative steps to ascertain, verify and concretize, what is left in a muddle remains so.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who sit and fret over one’s future because of a medical condition which has begun to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the fear of future forebodings becomes an exponentially-enhanced subject of terror and trembling, so long as pragmatic steps of self-affirmation are avoided and neglected.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may seem like a small step, or perhaps a too-large one in supposing an end to an otherwise successful career.  But sitting in fear and loathing is never a solution; one must, by affirmative steps and bounds, break the isolation of fear and move forward with life.

As the fallen leaves of Fall are merely a season of change, and the colors which surround the spectrum of life’s spector, to remain as a spectator to the vastness of change is to allow for the vicissitudes of misgivings to shake the essence of purpose.

Like the crinkled leaf which sits afar and takes on a gargoyle-like appearance, it is only when those first steps are embraced towards ascertaining, verifying and establishing that the very fears we once took comfort in, are but mere wisps of whispers dissipating into oblivion, once we take those initial steps in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, in order to defy the foreboding of the winter season yet to come, but where our future lies not in fear but in securing a semblance of stability through a benefit available but for want of hesitation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Catch of the Day

Restaurants announce it; law enforcement offices declare it; con artists make a living by it; and agencies sneeringly pounce upon them. They are the designated focus for the day, often longer, and sometimes until they disappear from the depths of abundance which the season and migration of schools allow.

When one is a Federal or Postal Worker, becoming the “catch of the day” can mean that you are the targeted one; the one whom harassment and daily persecution becomes the norm and routine, and having such a reputation allows for the safe haven of others who exhale a loud sigh of relief for being spared such an ignoble designation. Once the target, agencies never let up. Whether it leads to a PIP, multiple suspensions, letters of reprimand, sick and annual leave restrictions on usage, doesn’t quite seem to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the persecutors.

Yes, there are some countermanding moves: EEO complaints; grievance procedures filed; even lawsuits and resulting awards of significant verdicts, on rare but victorious occasions. But the human toil expended rarely justifies such moments of rare glory; and for the individual who suffers from a medical condition, the juggernaut of the agency’s reserves and reservoir of implements and infinite resources of persecution means that a time of respite is merely temporary.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which one must consider when the coalescence of a medical condition, agency actions, and the recognition that one is unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, comes to a tripartite sequence of combined consonance.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has the opportunity to receive an annuity, and still go out and begin a new career in the private sector, and make up to 80 percent of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.  It is a consideration which should always remain a viable option, lest one’s picture remain with a bullseye depiction alongside the declaration that you are the agency’s “catch of the day”.

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 Disability Retirement: Chronic Medical Conditions and the Dissonance of Society

Society proceeds with a dissonance of perspectives and beliefs; and the macro-approach of such societal values and norms is reflective of the individual microcosm of such self-conflicting belief systems.

On the one hand, we are taught that the physical universe is what constitutes the entirety of our existence; that consciousness, metaphysics and transcendent spectrums of existence are mere vestiges of our ancient, unsophisticated past.  On the other hand, society attempts to maintain a position that encompasses compassion, values of empathy and caring for those less fortunate.  But if a Darwinian approach of pure materialism is embraced, where survival of the fittest ensures the propagation of the hardiest of species, while at the same time negating the possibility of the existence of a metaphysical foundation for our existence, how can the truncated belief-system work in practical terms?

Witness the workplace:  an explosion of laws are enacted to allegedly protect those who suffer from medical conditions; yet, concurrently, one sees the exponential occurrence of workplace harassment and abuse.  Cognitive dissonance?  The runt of the litter is always shunned by the rest, if only because the “rest” — despite being siblings — have an innate sense that there is something “wrong” with the runt.

In the Federal Work Sector, Federal and Postal employees have legal rights intended to protect Federal and Postal Workers from workplace harassment, hostile work environments, etc.  Further, Federal and Postal Workers have the option and alternative to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which allows for an escape from such a non-supportive environment, in order to enter into a rehabilitative period secured by a monthly annuity, and perhaps to engage a second, more conducive vocation consistent with one’s medical conditions.

Such a paradigm of offering Federal Disability Retirement benefits reveals a side of human nature which is indeed compassionate and intelligent.  But it in no way undercuts the ugly side of human nature — of the workplace harassment which such Federal and Postal employees must often endure for their chronic medical conditions.  The cognitive dissonance of the human species is indeed confounding; but perhaps it is precisely the complexity of our nature which reveals the mystery of the unexplainable, and while Darwin may have a point, such a purely materialistic approach can never fully explain the proverbial ghost in the machine.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A Hostile Work Environment

Unfortunately, reality often outperforms and upstages any attempt at fictional characterization of the workplace.  Often, the meanness and temperamental behavior of a supervisor in the “real” workplace can never be properly represented by an actor’s attempt in a sitcom or a drama; the persistent, irrational, capricious and outright cruel behavior and acts of “the boss” or one of his/her underlings can never be accurately depicted in fiction.  Further, the reality of the consequences of such behavior can be devastating.  Workplace stress resulting from demeaning behavior, intentional acts to undermine, cruel and arbitrary acts against a specific employee, can all result in serious medical consequences.  

It is all well and good to talk about internal procedures — of filing an EEOC Complaint; filing a grievance; filing a complaint based upon discrimination, etc.  But beyond such agency procedures to protect one’s self, there is the problem of the eruption of a medical condition, be it Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, physical symptoms of IBS, chronic pain, headaches —  some or all of which may result from such stresses in the workplace.  There is no diagnostic tool to establish the link between the medical condition and the workplace stress.  

For Federal and Postal employees thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is the context of harassment & stress in the workplace, and then the medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Sometimes, it is difficult to bifurcate the two.  That which is difficult, however, must sometimes be accomplished in order to be successful.  The origin of the medical condition may have to be set aside, because it “complicates” the proving of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  If one is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the story — however real — of the workplace harassment, may have to be left behind.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Interaction with EEOC & Other Legal Processes

I am often asked if other legal processes already filed — an EEOC Complaint, a corollary adverse action being appealed, etc. — will have an impact upon a Federal Disability Retirement application.  My general answer is, “No, it will not have an effect upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement.”  The second question which often follows, is:  What if the EEOC filing contradicts the Federal Disability Retirement application?  While the full answer to such a question will differ from case to case, depending upon the peculiar and particular circumstances of each individual case and application, my standard response to the second question will often contain a responsive query:  Have you ever heard of an attorney speaking out of two or three (or four) sides of his mouth?  As attorneys, we make multiple (and sometime contradictory) arguments all the time.  I am not concerned with the factual or legal arguments in a concurrent/parallel EEOC case; my job is to make sure that my client obtains a disability retirement — and if it somewhat contradicts the arguments made in an EEOC complaint, so be it — for, after all, I’m merely an attorney, and such inherent contradictions only prove the fact that lawyers have at least four sides to every mouth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire